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Monday, January 21, 2013
Harrison adds to questions on O-line

By William Wilkerson

Go ahead and pencil Texas’ newest commitment Desmond Harrison (Contra Costa College) in at left tackle.

Then what?

Donald Hawkins
Juco transfer Donald Hawkins started at left tackle for the Longhorns in 2012 but might switch positions in 2013.
The 6-foot-8, 310-pound lineman, who chose the Longhorns over Arizona State, Oklahoma and USC on Monday, is going to protect David Ash’s blind side next year. That much is known.

What’s left up for debate is what the rest of the line is going to look like.

Will current left tackle Donald Hawkins shift inside to left guard, giving Texas two experienced and capable linemen to protect its quarterback? But if that happens then Trey Hopkins will be uprooted from his left guard position. He was perhaps the Longhorns’ best lineman in 2012. Where does he fit in?

Dominic Espinosa is the most scrutinized of the five current linemen by a wide margin, but he’ll be bringing two years of starting experience to the fold in 2013 (and he’s healthy). Does Texas really want to remove that from the equation?

Does Texas mess with the cohesion in place between right guard Mason Walters, the leader of the group, and right tackle Josh Cochran, who has started his first two years on the 40 Acres?

What’s all this mean for backups such as Kennedy Estelle, Curtis Riser, Garrett Porter and Sedrick Flowers? There’s a lot of talent among those four but little room for them to show it.

And what about this ballyhooed class of offensive linemen joining the fold? Many expect Darius James, the No. 1 center in the country, to be in the mix somewhere. Kent Perkins, too.

By the way, Texas might have another offensive lineman join the mix when three-star recruit Rami Hammad announces his commitment on Wednesday. He’s coming off an official visit to Austin.

While the answers to those questions might not be known right now, what is certain is that offensive line coach Stacy Searels has options, and that’s never a bad thing.

Yes, Texas’ offensive line took a few steps forward in their progression last season. But there’s plenty of room for improvement.

The Longhorns were seventh in the Big 12 in scoring offense (35.7 points per game), sixth in rushing offense (171.5 yards per game) and sixth in total offense (434.6 ypg).

It’s up to Searels to figure out who to put where to garner the most improvement. Start with Harrison at left tackle and go from there.