If you were to describe the perfect offensive lineman, it would sound something like this:

  • Around 6’6′ – 6’8″
  • Over 300 Pounds
  • Athletically built-not sloppy
  • Big enough to hold hid ground against the pass rush
  • Fast enough to get to the second level on run plays
  • Strong enough to pancake a defensive end

Desmond HarrisonAll these things can be said about the newest member of the 2013 Longhorn football team, Desmond Harrison. Harrison’s arrival can not come soon enough for a Texas team that desperately needs a dose of nastiness in the offensive line.

The time and effort that offensive line coach Stacy Searels and Offensive Coordinator Major Applewhite expended to land Harrison shows just how much of a priority solidifying the tackle position is for 2013. Having Desmond Harrison on campus makes EVERYONE better and here’s why:

  • Championship teams are built from the inside out-specifically the offensive line.
  • A strong offensive line extends drives: punts become field goals; field goal become touchdowns. More touchdowns leads to more victories. Victories are a good thing. They keep people employed. They keep fan bases happy. They keep stadiums full. They keep bank accounts full.
  • Jonathan Gray and Malcolm Brown have larger holes to run through. Bigger holes mean more rushing yards. High rushing totals allows for play action passing. Ash is a much better quarterback when there is a running game that can put up big numbers.
  • David Ash has more time to progress through his reads and has larger throwing lanes. A comfortable David Ash with wide throwing lanes makes Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis better receivers.
  • Extended drives leads to a rested defense. If their offense isn’t on the field, that severely restricts the other team’s ability to score points.

Adding Harrison will lead to some changes in the offensive line depth chart. If Harrison is everything he’s expected be, he’s penciled in as the starting left tackle from day one. This will prompt last year’s Juco signee, Donald Hawkins to shift inside to either guard or center. Another possibility at the center position would be Mason Walters. Either would be an upgrade over incumbent Dom Espinosa, who was often over powered by the bull rush and lacked the speed to get to the second level. Not to mention the debacle that was the West Virginia game, but there’s no reason to beat a dead horse here.

Is Harrison a sure fire starting left tackle in the NFL? If I could answer that with any degree of certainty my bank account would look much more attractive than it does now. However, I can saw with a high level of confidence that he has enough God-given athletic ability to have a chance to hold up a jersey at the draft and flash a Hook ‘Em for the cameras.

The question surrounding Desmond Harrison is the same one that has surrounded every other elite prospect that has walked into DKR: Will that talent be developed to its full potential? Will he get stronger? Will he get faster? Will his tendency to play too tall and rely on his freakish athletic ability be corralled and coached into flawless technique paired with unreal athleticism?

I have faith in Stacy Searels, Major Applewhite, and Bennie Wylie. I am supremely confident that Harrison is the real deal and will be an impact player from the first snap of the 2013 season.

Take a look at his film (#68) and see what you think. Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. Let me know what you think his impact will be and who he reminds you of:

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Posted November 30th, 2011 by Ross
Filed under: Football

WTH?! (What the Heck?) moments are attempts to find the memorable and the off-beat perspective on Longhorns sports. Here are some interesting moments from the Texas’ game against the Aggies.

Pre-Game WTH 118 years?! I agree that egos have caused this rivalry to end. The Aggies says “It’s time for Texas A&M”… to slug it out with the SEC. The Horns have their path to blaze (LHN). Divorce is tough. Let’s reunite for the kids’ sake.

1st Quarter (7:26) WTH Tucker?! The 31 yard punt by Justin Tucker was making every Longhorn fan pull out their hair. The only good outcome was that most of his punts were never returned. He definitely made up for his punting woes at the end.

2nd Quarter (12:13) WTH Refs 1?! Keenan Robinson was called for roughing the passer when the QB Ryan Tannehill landed on him? Keenan must have pissed off the entire officiating crew because he also got called for a horse collar penalty in the third quarter when he clearly just had the jersey.

2nd Quarter (9:31) WTH Shipley?! This is not for the pass play to Irby for the first score. Before that play and the muffed punt that caused all the electricity for the Horns, Jaxon Shipley I think had the play of the game. On third down his bad knee gave way and he barely got a hand on the ball to knock it down. An Aggie defender was there ready to make the interception and take it to the house. Close call!

2nd Quarter (1:47) WTH Harsin?! Coach Harsin I am going to blame you for this interception thrown by Miles Onyegbule. Your innovative play calling gets this Horn team so fired up that they will throw into triple coverage to please you.

(more …)

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Posted November 1st, 2010 by Brian
Filed under: Feature, Football

This post is supported by Sonic. Log on to flavortouchdown.com to enter for a chance to win the Sonic Flavor Touchdown Sweepstakes.

The 2010 season hasn’t exactly gone as everyone hoped. Okay, that’s probably a huge understatement.

Texas fans knew this would be a rebuilding year while breaking in a new quarterback and finding a replacement for the most productive wide receiver in the history of the program. They didn’t expect this. It’s not just that Texas has lost games, it’s the shocking way they’ve done so without any semblance of an offense and a sieve of defense.

Depending on what happens in 2011, this can either go down as a season where the Longhorns regrouped and reloaded or it could be the end of an era. These five players will determine which way it goes:

Garrett Gilbert

Or maybe it’s Case McCoy or Connor Wood or David Ash. Or the ghost of Vince Young. Whoever it is, the quarterback play in 2010 has been terrible and you can’t win games when you’re turning the ball over as much as the Horns are this season. Not all of this falls directly on Gilbert. His supporting cast has dropped touchdown passes, struggles to run the football, and frequently makes defensive ends you’ve never heard of look like All-Americans. The 2011 season (and rest of 2010) hinges on a quarterback stepping up and making plays and making the players around him better.

Mike Davis

There have been glimpses. One of the biggest things missing from this team is a playmaker and wide receiver Mike Davis has shown that he might be that guy. He’s a favorite target of Gilbert and can make big plays after the catch. He has to continue to get better at the consistency of his hands and his route running, but if he turns the corner this offseason he could be the guy who turns an inconsistent offense into a dominant one.

Mason Walters and Garrett Gilbert

Mason Walters and Garrett Gilbert are critical to a 2011 rebound. (Image: Inside Texas)

Mason Walters/Christian Westerman

It’s been a while (2005?) since Texas fans were satisfied with the team’s offensive line play and this season it has hit rock bottom. Next year will feature at least three new starters on the line but that may be a good thing. Redshirt freshman Mason Walters has started every game this season and the results have been mixed, but he and current high school senior Christian Westerman may be your starting tackles next year and if they can give the quarterback a consistently comfortable pocket the suddenly Sonic Flavor Touchdowns are a little easier to come by. The entire line needs a makeover into a tougher, more aggressive unit and it starts with these two guys.

Aaron Williams

Williams has played great this season but not as great as some were expecting. The Thorpe Award candidate is a lockdown corner and a surefire first round NFL draft pick if he decides to leave but if he returns he immediately makes the Texas defense national title caliber. A return for his senior season isn’t as far fetched as it sounds, with the looming NFL labor issues more top draft picks will come back to school for another year than expected.

Jackson Jeffcoat

True freshman defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat didn’t play against Iowa State due to injury and his presence was definitely missed. He’s not an every down player (yet) but he’s already a dangerous pass rusher and guys that can go get the quarterback make everyone around them better. If Jeffcoat can stay healthy and progresses as hoped he should be a double digit sack guy for the rest of his career.

Texas fans will be watching. Who is going to step up and right this ship?

Log on to flavortouchdown.com to enter for a chance to win the Sonic Flavor Touchdown Sweepstakes. You could win a prize package and a VIP football trip for 6 to the bowl game of your choice. Hopefully the Longhorns win at least two more games this season and make it to one of them.

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Posted November 14th, 2009 by Brian
Filed under: Feature, Football

Roddrick Muckelroy may not be on the field to harass the Baylor Bears this season.

Roddrick Muckelroy may not be on the field to harass the Baylor Bears this season.

After hurting his knee jumping to celebrate a big play last week, Texas linebacker [tag]Roddrick Muckelroy[/tag] is listed as “probable” on this week’s official injury report for [tag]Baylor[/tag]. Normally you’d think that would mean we’d almost certainly see Rod against the Bears tomorrow, but since it is Baylor it might mean a week of extra space for his tweaked knee. I expect to see him in uniform but not in the game unless it’s an emergency.

The two other names on this week’s report are more familiar as defensive tackle [tag]Calvin Howell[/tag] remains out with his concussion and true freshman offensive lineman [tag]Mason Walters[/tag]’ foot is still keeping him out. Those two players are likely to seek a medical redshirt later in their time at Texas and possibly receive an extra year of eligibility.

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The Longhorns will be near full strength when they take the field for an early start to Big 12 conference play. Only two players are listed as out on the official injury report for the game Saturday night against [tag]Texas Tech[/tag]. Linebacker [tag]Jared Norton[/tag] is out with a shoulder injury and freshman offensive lineman [tag]Mason Walters[/tag] will miss the game due to a foot injury.

Both players were injured in the season opener and also missed last week’s game against [tag]Wyoming[/tag]. Norton’s shoulder was originally reported as not being serious but he’s now missed two games and his status is one to keep an eye on.

The biggest news may be one name not on the list, tailback [tag]Foswhitt Whittaker[/tag] is listed on the depth chart and will finally make his debut against the Red Raiders. Good luck to Fozzy, hopefully he finally stays healthy enough to get his chance.

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Jared Norton reinjured his shoulder against ULM.

Jared Norton reinjured his shoulder against ULM.

Just one week into the season and the Horns’ official injury list is already getting a little long, and there’s a familiar name on it that fans were hoping would be a big contributor this year. Four players didn’t make the trip to [tag]Wyoming[/tag] due to various injuries.

Running back Fozzy Whittaker is out again this week with a knee injury. Also out are offensive guards [tag]Michael Huey[/tag] with a left ankle sprain and true freshman [tag]Mason Walters[/tag] with a foot injury. Linebacker [tag]Jared Norton[/tag] has a right shoulder injury that reportedly isn’t too serious, but it’s bad enough that he’s out for this week’s game.

The offensive line depth is definitely hurting. When the season started the coaches had five starters and [tag]David Snow[/tag] backing them up and now one of the starters is out and another backup is down. [tag]Tray Allen[/tag] was working almost exclusively at defensive tackle last week and this week he’s the number two guy at both left guard and tackle.

Hopefully the line and everyone else can stay healthy this week in possibly snowy Wyoming.

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Posted September 7th, 2009 by Brian
Filed under: Depth Chart, Feature, Football

Redshirt freshman [tag]DJ Monroe[/tag] may have had the most impressive and important debut Saturday night but nine true freshmen including quarterback [tag]Garrett Gilbert[/tag] burned their redshirts against Louisiana-Monroe. Here are notes on the nine youngsters who played:

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College coaches are not allowed by NCAA rules to talk about potential recruits or commits until National Signing Day. With signatures from all 20 commits this morning, Texas head coach [tag]Mack Brown[/tag] finally has a chance to talk about each of the future Longhorns and breaks down each one on film. Mack sits down in front of reporters and talks to reporters for nearly 30 minutes and it is definitely worth your time to sit down and watch.

Watch Mack talking about the class and discussing each of the recruits below:

Many thanks to Statesman.com for again providing embeddable video of Mack’s press conferences.

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Posted January 4th, 2009 by Brian
Filed under: Feature, Football, Recruiting

Another day another high school all-star game full of future Texas Longhorns. Tonight five Texas commits will play in the Under Armour All-America Game live on ESPN at 7pm Central. Fans will be able to see a large chunk of the future Texas offensive unit as quarterback [tag]Garrett Gilbert[/tag] and tight end [tag]Barrett Matthews[/tag] will also have three big hogs blocking for them up front in linemen [tag]Mason Walters[/tag], [tag]Paden Kelley[/tag], and [tag]Thomas Ashcraft[/tag]. Gilbert, who won two state titles and broke Texas state passing records as the quarterback of Lake Travis High School, is ESPN’s number one ranked quarterback prospect.

The positions and numbers of the Texas commits and targets are listed below:

Name Number Position Commit? Ranking
[tag]Thomas Ashcraft[/tag] 75 Offensive Tackle Yes 1 star1 star1 star1 star
[tag]Garrett Gilbert[/tag] 7 Quarterback Yes 1 star1 star1 star1 star1 star
[tag]Paden Kelley[/tag] 70 Offensive Tackle Yes 1 star1 star1 star1 star
[tag]Barrett Matthews[/tag] 89 Tight End Yes 1 star1 star1 star1 star
[tag]Mason Walters[/tag] 72 Offensive Tackle Yes 1 star1 star1 star1 star

View the full Under Armour rosters.

We’ll have thoughts on players from both all-star games later this week.

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ESPN has posted several good videos and articles on the future Longhorns participating in this weekend’s Under Armour All-America Game. Players like [tag]Garrett Gilbert[/tag] and [tag]Mason Walters[/tag] are getting the chance to impress on a national stage and according to Bobby Burton of Rivals.com Gilbert in particular has done so. With five future Longhorns in the game they’re also getting an early opportunity to hang out together, something that will help the group hit the ground running once they get onto the 40 Acres.

ESPN got each of the guys to say a few things about the experience of playing in this game and about choosing to go to Texas. In the first few seconds of the video future [tag]LSU[/tag] athlete Russell Shepard (who seems like a really good kid) passes by and tells the interviewer that future Horn Gilbert is the best QB in the country. I guess the Texas coaches got it right at quarterback after all. Watch below:

The players seem to get along well, which is particularly key for the three offensive lineman. It’s also great to hear that they’ve already got their eyes on a national title:

Mason Walters is 6-foot-7 and nearly 300 pounds. Still, the physically imposing offensive tackle is dwarfed by the larger-than-life expectations that constantly surround the football team at the University of Texas.

As one of five Texas commits participating in Sunday’s Under Armour All-America Game (ESPN, 7 pm), Walters is a principal member of a Longhorns recruiting class that is tall on talent. He says despite each individual’s ability, the group puts a single goal — a collective goal — at the top of its New Year’s resolutions.

“We want a ring,” Walters said. “That’s not a question. We don’t care about awards and stuff individually. I think that the guys want the team to win a national championship in the future. It’s something you can say, but it’s a lot of hard work.”

Under Armour All-Americans Garrett Gilbert, [tag]Paden Kelley[/tag], [tag]Thomas Ashcraft[/tag] and [tag]Barrett Matthews[/tag] will be joining Walters in Austin next year. Together, they constitute the core of a class that has nine players in the ESPNU 150 and was ranked third in ESPN.com’s most recent breakdown of the top recruiting classes.

Walters also shared his quick personal New Year’s resolutions which include his Halo 3 rank and getting fellow future UT linemate Paden Kelly to cut his hair. Mason certainly looks and sounds like a man already. Watch Mason below:

Love to see the kids bonding as this group of guys along with the players at the US Army All-American Game will make up the core of future Texas teams. You can catch Under Armour practices on ESPNU this week and the game will air live Sunday night at 7pm.

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