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Texas Spring Preview: OL

With three starters moving on and Josh Cochran out of football, Joe Wickline has work to do to build the kind of OL to realize Strong’s manball identity for Texas. 
Offensive LinePersonnel:Dominic Espinosa, 6-foot-2, 305 lbs, Senior: Likely the only player on the line guaranteed to start at the same position as last year.Desmond Harrison, 6-foot-7, 305 lbs, Senior: Hopefully Wickline can extract the unlimited potential of the former Juco transfer.Kennedy Estelle, 6-foot-7, 295 lbs, Junior: Still questions about his work ethic and love for the game, but he has the natural attributes to play at a high level.Sedrick Flowers, 6-foot-3, 320 lbs, Junior: Concussions have been an issue in the past, but Flowers has been healthy of late. Has sweet feet that Wickline should like.Taylor Doyle, 6-foot-5, 320 lbs, Junior: Big depth player who lacks the natural traits of others.Kent Perkins, 6-fot-5, 305 lbs, Sophomore: Could feature anywhere on the line, indicative of his athleticism and intelligence.Camrhon Hughes, 6-foot-6, 315 lbs, Sophomore: Some players develop at different speeds. Some, not at all. Hopefully Hughes gives the staff a reason to be optimistic about his future.Curtis Riser, 6-foot-4, 320 lbs, Sophomore: Riser’s a bruising interior guard who should compete for quality snaps.Darius James, 6-foot-4, 320 lbs, RS Freshman: Perhaps the best athlete of all the likely interior personnel. He might be athletic enough to play tackle in fact.Jake Raulerson, 6-foot-5, 285 lbs, RS Freshman: Raulerson continues to work hard and add weight but is likely still a year away from truly being ready.Rami Hammad, 6-foot-5, 320 lbs, RS Freshman: Hammad already has an upperclassmen’s build he just needs reps.Alex Anderson, 6-foot-5, 315, Freshman: New to campus, it’s nice to see a player who needs development already on campus.

Questions heading into Spring Practice:Which five emerge as likely starters in the fall after what should be a vicious competition? What are those separating traits…footwork? Athleticism? Size? Can Harrison put a strangle-hold on left tackle? Can Perkins push Estelle out at right tackle? Which guards receive a credible look at tackle? How does the unit as a whole respond to Wickline’s tutelage? – Eric NahlinHow quickly can Wickline get a starting five in order? Will they all remain at their traditional spots or will Wickline get creative in who emerges where? Will Texas rely on some of the older players or embrace a youth movement? Will they prioritize mistake-free football or just get the best talent on the field and let reps and experience fashion this into a mashing unit? – Ian BoydExpectations exiting Spring Practice:By the end of spring, I expect to see a line of Harrison-Flowers-Espinosa-Perkins-Estelle emerge as future starters, but also being pushed by Hammad and Riser on the inside. Depth at left tackle will remain a bit of a concern. One bold prediction is Hammad will also play well enough at tackle to be considered depth on the right side. – ENI’ll bet on a starting five of Harrison-Riser-Espinosa-James-Perkins with Wickline looking to get as much big, quick talent on the field as he can and then relying on his own teaching and time to fashion them into a unit that can grow into a dominant group. Estelle will have every chance to earn a job at tackle since Texas will need someone to help Perkins bookend the line in 2015. If they can master the basics and details of the scheme, this group will be poised to overwhelm the weaker Big 12 DL’s. – IBBest/Worst case scenario:Best case is the five most talented athletes earn starting nods while also picking up the fundamental aspects of Wickline’s blocking schemes. Because of heavy turnover there will be some growing pains but raw talent cures many ills. Worst case is Harrison and Estelle’s growth being stunted and Wickline having to force square pegs from the interior into round holes on the exterior. – ENBest case sees Texas’ immense (literally) talent catching on to Wickline’s style and system quickly and providing Texas with a bruising line that will destroy smaller opponents. Espinosa provides a rock inside while Perkins, Harrison, and James give Texas plus athletes that opponents cannot go toe to toe with in the trenches. Worst case is that Espinosa and the others struggle with the new footwork, talents like Estelle and Harrison don’t put it together, and Wickline has to utilize his patchwork quilt skills from Stillwater without the benefit of several offseasons with this group. – IB

History major, football theorist.