Suggesting not long ago that he prefers playing guard to tackle, Texas big man Kent Perkins is about to get his wish.
The most seasoned player on the team with 24 career starts — 12 at guard, 12 at tackle — Perkins will start out on the line’s interior to open the preseason, new line coach Matt Mattox said Friday.
At Big 12 media days last month, Perkins said he’ll play wherever he’s needed, but added, “I feel like I’m better equipped to play guard.”
Though Mattox says the arrangement is fluid and subject to change, it’s the one with which he is most comfortable at the moment. Left unsaid is that Perkins staying put at guard is contingent on Mattox finding an adequate replacement for right tackle.
“Ideally, you would love to have him (at guard) because there’s not many people in the nation that are physically gonna overmatch him,” Mattox said of the 6-5, 320-pound senior. “I would love to have him there if we can, but whatever gives us the best five out there, we’ll do it.”
Provided Perkins remains on the inside, it’ll likely create this line configuration: Connor Williams (left tackle), Perkins (left guard), Zach Shackelford (center) and Patrick Vahe (right guard). In that scenario, there’s a hole at right tackle, where Mattox will audition several guys with Tristan Nickelson checking in as the early favorite after a fine offseason in which he dominated the heavyweight division of the team’s Battle for the Belts fitness series. Nickelson, who struggled with conditioning last season in his first year on campus, performed better at carrying bags, pushing sleds and commanding the row machine than any of the team’s big men.
Also in that scenario, former junior college transfer Brandon Hodges gets squeezed out of the starting job at left guard he held all spring. Still, Mattox is bullish on Hodges, saying “I’d love for it to be the case” where Hodges starts.
Reading between the lines, Mattox, for the time being anyway, is targeting star recruits Patrick Hudson, Jean Delance and J.P. Urquidez for reserve roles.
“It’s on them by the end of camp to make it so obvious who the starters are,” Mattox said. “By the end of camp, I should be able to ask the DB coach, wide receivers coach, quarterbacks coach who are my starting five, and it should be obvious.”
Just in case Mattox has to scrap plans, he said he’ll “sprinkle in” Perkins for reps at tackle.
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