Snow providing leadership to young-but-talented offensive line

Christian Corona

Editor’s Note: The Daily Texan’s series of the 10 most important Longhorn football players continues with No. 6 David Snow.

David Snow starting at center seemed to be one of the only sure things coming into this year.

What a difference an offseason can make.

Despite being the lone senior returning starter on the offensive line, Snow won’t start at the position he played all last season. Instead, he’ll move over to guard while redshirt freshman Dominic Espinosa will take over at center. The transition should not be too difficult for Snow as he made five starts there as a sophomore. In fact, the position change may not be the toughest thing Snow, who battled mononucleosis this spring, had to deal with.

“I was not very happy going through the spring,” Snow said. “It felt like you would just flop over dead at any time. Mono makes everything slow. It makes you drudgey. You have no energy. By the grace of God I made it through.”

Snow’s shift from center to guard and Espinosa impressing the coaches enough to let him fill in for Snow says a lot, not only about Snow but about the offensive line he plays on. It’s certainly a testament to his versatility. In high school, Snow was a four-year starter at guard. As a freshman at Texas, Snow started two games at center when Chris Hall was injured. A year later, he played all 14 games at right guard. Then, last season, Snow moved back to center and started all 12 of the Longhorns’ games there. Now, he’s being asked to make yet another switch, this time back to guard.

“[Offensive line coach] Stacy Searels is trying to get everybody to play every position except for center because we are thin on the offensive line,” head coach Mack Brown said. “Center is a unique position of course, and you can’t get everyone to play that position.”

Searels, like any college football coach, will be working with freshmen and sophomores but will be more dependent on them than most coaches. Excluding Snow, sophomore guard Mason Walters is the only other offensive lineman who has started a game and Tray Allen is the only other senior on the offensive line. Two sophomores, Walters and Trey Hopkins, along with one freshman, Espinosa, figure to join Snow on the first-team offensive line. Even most of their backups are underclassmen.

“There is this group of Luke Poehlmanns and [Dominic] Espinosas, plus the five freshmen that are coming,” Brown said. “The thing that we’ll look at in the offensive line is trying to create some depth.”

Because of Texas’ plethora of young linemen and the need for many of them to contribute right away, leadership from someone like Snow could come in very handy this season. Espinosa, Walters and Hopkins make up a trio of talented offensive linemen but none have more than a year’s worth of experience. Snow, who has 39 games and 19 starts under his belt, has expertise that could prove useful to the young linemen, especially Espinosa, whom he’ll be lining up next to this season.

“[Espinosa]’s a smart guy that makes the right decisions out there,” said co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin. “I’ve been pleased with his performance, his snaps and I think he’s got the feel for playing that position. All those centers have really come along. We put a lot on those guys, but Dominic has done a good job.”

Texas’ offense struggled mightily in 2010. Better offensive line play would go a long way toward helping Garrett Gilbert improve on his 10-17 touchdown-interception ratio, helping someone in the Longhorn backfield get over the 600-yard hump that has eluded them since 2007, or helping Texas improve on the 23.8 points per game they put up in 2010. With Snow anchoring the offensive line, whether it’s from center or guard, Texas has a chance to accomplish all of that.

Printed on August 25, 2011 as: Snow anchoring young line, moving from center to guard