Illustrations by Colin Zelinski.
At the start of the 2013 recruiting cycle, Mack Brown and company knew they needed a ton of help in this class. And they got it. Almost.
1,810 pounds will have to do.
That’s the combined weight of the six 2013 linemen who have verbally committed to Texas: defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, defensive end Jake Raulerson, center Darius James, offensive tackle Kent Perkins, offensive tackle Desmond Harrison and guard Rami Hammad.
Those six will throw their weight around with the other 14 offensive lineman and 15 defensive linemen on scholarship for the 2013 season.
Consequently, it may be a while before some members of the incoming class get the chance to carry their share of the load. Even though Hammad, Robinson, James, Perkins and Raulerson are all listed by rivals.com as the best prospects in Texas at their respective positions, their playing time could be scarce.
The Texas lines are packed with more experienced commodities (the only starter Texas will lose from either line is defensive end Alex Okafor), and acclimating the incoming freshmen to the speed of the college game will take time. Hammad, James, and Perkins especially are early candidates for redshirts.
Harrison, however, is a notable exception. A junior college transfer, Harrison has only two years of eligibility left and is under pressure to make an immediate impact. Although he may not be a starter from Day One (like fellow junior college transfer Donald Hawkins), Harrison should provide valuable depth at both tackle positions.
Although Harrison’s niche is already well established, the same cannot be said for the class’ two defensive linemen, Robinson and Raulerson.
Robinson could be the cream of the crop in their class if he indeed makes it to Austin. Even though he has been committed to Texas since Feb. 16 of last year, Robinson has taken official visits to Southern California, Florida State and as of last weekend, Alabama.
If he signs with Texas on Feb. 6, he has the talent to find playing time in a crowded Longhorn defensive front. Rated by rivals.com as the best prospect in Texas, Robinson could cause just as much disruption as Malcolm Brown or Brandon Moore did in their first years at Texas.
Alternatively, Raulerson has been committed to Texas longer than any other member of the 2013 class. He is already taking classes at UT and will participate in Spring Practice. Unlike Robinson, Raulerson’s future as a Longhorn is secure; what role he will play is murkier.
Raulerson is listed by Texas as a defensive end, but he played offensive tackle throughout high school. At 6 feet 5 inches and 262 pounds, Raulerson would need to put on considerable weight to be effective at that position at this level.
As an early enrollee, Raulerson will have a head start on learning the system as well as access to Texas’ strength and conditioning program. Even so, with all the returning talent on the defensive line, Raulerson will have to make quite an impression to avoid a redshirt position in his first season.
Although it’s always difficult to project a recruit’s impact, this is particularly true with linemen. Discerning how a recruit will develop both physically and mentally is a tricky business.
Still, the potential for this group to be a force in the Texas trenches is real. And while that opportunity may still be a few years off, the Longhorns should be optimistic about the big things coming to Austin.