- Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Before Texas begins its first season under Charlie Strong, we're taking a deep dive into all the talent he inherits in 2014. Our Burnt Orange Breakdown series takes a closer look at each scholarship player returning this fall and what we can expect from him. We're going down the roster from No. 1 Shiro Davis all the way to No. 99 Desmond Jackson.
No. 68 Desmond Harrison
Senior offensive tackle
Recruitment rewind: The Houston native finished his high school and prep school ball in North Carolina, then went to Contra Costa Community College in California. His Texas connections made the difference during his recruitment, and the three-star tackle chose UT after official visits to USC, Oklahoma, Arizona State and NC State. After some NCAA delays, Harrison enrolled late in the summer of 2013.
Career so far: When Harrison first joined the program in 2013, the coaching staff hope he would be able to take over the starting left tackle job. But a strange issue involving invalidated BYU independent study credits required Harrison to sit out the first two weeks of fall practice. By the time he returned, on Aug. 20, it was too late for him to win the job. He played in seven games, dealt with a minor ankle injury at midseason and never enjoyed his breakthrough.
Best-case scenario for 2014: Harrison is 6-foot-8 and 318 pounds, the kind of mammoth lineman you want protecting the blind side, and he's currently penciled in to start at left tackle. Texas' new coaching staff sees a big man with big potential, and they're hoping they can get 13 quality games out of him. He's shown flashes of brilliance in practice but still hasn't put it all together.
Worst-case scenario for 2014: Harrison pretty much has to be the solution at left tackle. Texas could try moving Kennedy Estelle or Kent Perkins over there, maybe, but right now the backup left tackles seem to be Darius James and Camrhon Hughes. The Longhorns are betting on a big year from Harrison, and they need one. He's a former basketball player who's still working to master the finer points of playing tackle. If he can't get the job done, Texas might have to do some serious reshuffling up front.
Future expectations: Mack Brown said over and over Harrison would be an NFL draft pick, maybe even a first-rounder, and was one of the best-looking linemen he'd ever seen. At his size, he might get drafted no matter what he does in 2014. But Harrison has one season to prove he can live up to that great potential. If he comes through and starts playing as well as advertised, this Texas offensive line could be one of the better units in the league.