- Kerstetter, a three-star recruit, was one of two offensive linemen that Texas signed in 2017.
- Kerstetter played tackle in his three varsity years in high school, but probably will shift to guard or center at Texas.
- He originally committed to Oklahoma State early last summer, but switched his pledge to UT on the day after Christmas.
SAN ANTONIO — A few years ago, Lyndon Hamilton discovered just how big Derek Kerstetter was.
Then the defensive coordinator at San Antonio Reagan, Hamilton asked a few players to help move him into a new home. Kerstetter, who was a sophomore lineman for the Rattlers at the time, was tasked with handling furniture. He encountered some problems with the stairs.
“He was so big moving up the stairs that he and the furniture, they couldn’t all get up the stairs at the same time,” recalled Hamilton, who took over Reagan’s football program in January. “There were actually pieces of our furniture that had to stay down because they couldn’t all fit when big DK was going up.”
It wasn’t the first time that Kerstetter’s size had been an issue. When he began playing football in the third grade, he was placed on a team with kids his own size. Those kids just happened to be fifth-graders.
Years later, he used his size to protect quarterbacks and running backs at Reagan. A long-time foe of District 26-6A defenses, Kerstetter now will shift his attention to the Big 12. Joining Humble Atascocita’s Samuel Cosmi, the 6-5, 285-pound Kerstetter was one of two offensive linemen signed by Texas in February.
“It’s the University of Texas,” Kerstetter said. “They have some of the best pride and tradition in the nation. I’ll love to get to play there. It’s been a dream.”
The son of two West Texas A&M athletes, Kerstetter received his first scholarship offer on Feb. 18, 2016, the spring semester of his junior year. After Bowling Green called, so did schools like Toledo, UTSA and Texas State. Kansas, Texas Tech and Houston eventually asked him to join their football programs, but he ending up choosing Oklahoma State in June.
During his recruitment, though, Kerstetter formed a relationship with the coaching staff at Houston. When Tom Herman and offensive line coach Derek Warehime moved over to Texas after the 2016 season, they targeted Kerstetter as a possible flip. On the day after Christmas — a holiday in which he received a Texas shirt and a Yeti cup with a Longhorn logo as gifts — Kerstetter announced he’d wear a different shade of orange in college.
— Derek Warehime (@CoachDWarehime) December 26, 2016
In Kerstetter, Texas gained a three-star recruit who was a three-time all-district honoree and a U.S. Army All-American. With Kerstetter on the offensive line, Reagan produced a 1,000-yard rusher for three straight seasons. Additionally, Reagan averaged 36.5 points per game from 2014-16.
“He knows how to finish on people,” Hamilton said. “I know this, we had a pretty good defensive line the last few years here. Once he gets on you, he knows how to finish on blocks.”
Kerstetter lined up at the two tackle positions during his three varsity seasons. Texas projects him as an interior lineman, which means he’ll be either a guard or center. At the Army All-American Bowl in January, he was used at right guard and center.
For his part, Kerstetter doesn’t mind where he plays. He just wants to play. Finding immediate playing time, however, may be easier said than done.
Texas needs to find a right guard to replace Kent Perkins, who recently signed with Cincinnati as an undrafted free agent. The rest of Texas’ line, though, returns plenty of experience. Left tackle Connor Williams is an All-American, and the Longhorns have gotten 28 career starts out of returners Patrick Vahe, a guard, and Zach Shackelford, a center.
In total, eight returners on Texas’ offensive line have combined for 75 starts.
“I think it would be cool to get to learn under guys like Patrick Vahe, Zach Shackelford and Connor Williams, obviously,” Kerstetter said. “They’re great talents.”
Over the past few months, Kerstetter served as a manager on Reagan’s girls soccer team. Along with a few fellow football players, Kerstetter shagged balls, filmed matches and filled up water bottles. Kerstetter got a couple of T-shirts for his troubles, but he was also a passenger on a playoff run that ended in the third round of the Class 6A bracket.
Kerstetter is banking on his next postseason trip being made with Texas, which last reached a bowl game in 2014.
“The state of Texas … it is the greatest state for football,” Kerstetter said. “I think for college, the university (of Texas) should be exactly that and show that.”
Editor’s note: This is the fifth of a series of looks at Texas’ 2017 signing class, as we reach out to the recruits themselves across Texas, Oklahoma and Florida to get a sense of just what the Longhorns are getting. Past stories: