Recruiting: For Longhorns, size matters with offensive linemen

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By Eric Nahlin, Inside Texas Recruiting Editor
Posted Oct 17, 2012
Copyright © 2014 InsideTexas.com


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Discounting the possibility that Jake Raulerson is being recruited as an offensive lineman, it's very clear that the Texas staff is making a concerted effort to add size and strength up front. To wit, future tackle Kent Perkins is 6-5 and nearly 300 pounds. Dancing bear Darius James is 6-4 and over 300 pounds. Texas has also extended offers to 6-5, 320-pound Caleb Benenoch and 6-2, 300-pound Andrew Billings. Each of these young men are seniors in high school and already have similar size to the current starting Longhorn linemen.

 

This isn't by accident. Much can be said for taking the 270-pound project with excellent flexibility, good feet and a high ceiling. That describes Raulerson perfectly, in fact. But, Texas is obviously putting an emphasis on being able to control the line of scrimmage and run the ball downhill, and judging by the measurements of the offered prospects, they'd prefer to do it sooner rather than later.

Nowhere is this more evident than when you look at 6-8, 305-pound tackle Desmond Harrison, the recent Longhorn offer from Contra Costa Community College (San Pablo, Ca.). After experiencing success with Donald Hawkins and Brandon Moore, Mack Brown is starting to understand what most have understood all along, the fruit on the junior college tree isn't forbidden.

Each player in the junior college ranks has a story. Some weren't talented enough for the big time but weren't ready to give up football, and happily accept the two years of free schooling. Others are big time prospects and through some confluence of circumstances born of bad decisions find themselves needing a second chance before their next second chance.

Harrison's route is a bit different. After originally attending Fort Bend Marshall High School in Texas, he moved with his mother to North Carolina, where he enrolled in Oakridge Military Academy. While at Oakridge, Harrison was discovered by Contra Costa coach, Alonzo Carter. The real Coach Carter.

Coach Carter loved Harrison's size and baseline athleticism. While at Contra Costa, both attributes have improved. Coach Carter elaborated, "He actually used to weigh about 330 pounds, so he's trimmed up some. He's actually a bit lean right now, but at the same time he's gotten stronger. He bench presses 400 pounds. We don't let our guys max out on squat, but he's over 500 pounds there. But, the most impressive thing to me is his feet. He'll be outside with the defensive backs doing cone drills and he's smooth. The crazy thing about Desmond is this is only his third year of playing football."

When you have that type of size and ability schools will take notice. In Harrison's case, it's been to the tune of over 20 universities. With his mother still in North Carolina, Harrison's already taken a trip to see North Carolina State. They'll definitely be a player for him, as will Iowa State, Arizona State and of course Texas. Those are the four schools he's planning on visiting officially. If those schools don't impress you, keep in mind he's allowed a fifth official visit. The schools contending for the final visit are Southern California, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

Texas fans have reason to be optimistic. Not only is Harrison visiting for banquet weekend, one of UT's marquee recruiting events, but Harrison's coaches have quite a bit of familiarity with the Texas coaching staff, according to Coach Carter.

"My offensive line coach here, Thomas Byrd, played for Coach Harsin at Boise State," Carter said. "I've known Coach (Stacy) Searels from his days at LSU when I was also coaching in the area. My defensive coordinator goes way back with Coach (Bo) Davis. When Coach (Bruce) Chambers came by to see Desmond he liked what he saw. Later on Coach Searels called and offered over the phone."

There are a lot of dynamics in play here. Harrison has three years to play two and will graduate in May. My guess is Texas would redshirt him to get a year's worth of distance between he and Donald Hawkins and then have him come in and compete for a starting tackle spot in 2014.

 

 

 

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