The Dotted Line

Stay updated on the latest Texas Longhorns recruiting news brought to you by Longhorns recruiting beat writer Mike Craven of Hookem.com. The Dotted Line will publish M-F at 10 a.m. each morning to provide Texas fans with an in-depth look at the latest for the Longhorns on the recruiting trail.

Texas offensive line coach Herb Hand runs through drills during a practice at the Denius Fields on Aug. 3, 2018. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Football

The Dotted Line: Texas, Herb Hand face challenges signing offensive line talent

Posted July 2nd, 2020

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The plan for Texas was to sign the best offensive line class in the country for the 2021 cycle, and the ingredients were in the cupboard. The amount of in-state offensive line talent at the Longhorns’ disposal was boiling over the rim, beginning with the state’s top two players in Donovan Jackson and Tommy Brockermeyer.

All Saints offensive tackle Tommy Brockermeyer receives instruction from former Longhorn Jonathan Scott at The Opening regional in Dallas. (Mike Craven/AAS)

They are sure-fire five-star talents. Brockermeyer is a traditional tackle with upside and family pedigree. Jackson is a technician, earning offensive line MVP honors at the 2019 The Opening as only a junior. It was unlikely that Texas could land both prospects, but the staff was counting on Brockermeyer. He and his twin brother, James, were penciled into the Texas recruiting class by fans and industry experts. 

The reasons were simple. The Brockermeyers grew up bleeding burnt orange. Their dad, Blake, was a multiple-year starter on the Texas offensive line before an NFL career. Their older brother, Luke, is currently an outside linebacker on the team. Yet Alabama is the favorite.

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The Brockermeyers want to win, and they want to be developed into NFL prospects. Anyone not blinded by burt orange tint would admit that both of those goals are more likely under the direction of Nick Saban. The Brockermeyers were in elementary school the last time Texas was in contention on a national level. 

The Longhorns did land Hayden Conner’s commitment early in the cycle. The four-star offensive tackle from Katy Taylor picked the Longhorns over numerous offers last summer. At the time, it felt like the first of many upcoming successes for offensive line coach Herb Hand.

Instead, Conner remains Texas’ lone offensive line commit one year after his pledge. Hand is one of the few coaches who was  retained from the 2019 season. He’s the second offensive line coach Texas has had during Tom Herman’s short tenure. 

The Longhorns wanted the 2021 cycle to consist of Conner, the Brockermeyer twins and a pair of other elite offensive line prospects. One of those targets plays with Conner at Katy Taylor, but the Longhorns are slipping further away from the leaders in the chase for four-star guard Bryce Foster. Oklahoma or the SEC appears the likely destination for him unless something drastically changes. The same can be said for Savion Byrd, a four-star tackle from Duncanville. Byrd was high on the Longhorns entering 2020 with his former quarterback Ja’Quinden Jackson headed to Austin. Now it feels like the Longhorns are chasing other programs.  

The cycle isn’t over and there are many variables working in Texas’ favor with the Brockermeyers, Foster and Byrd. The Brockermeyers will remain high-priority targets until they sign a national letter of intent, and Texas will sell family legacy. Foster wants to throw on the track team, and the track program is much better at Texas than Oklahoma. Byrd looks up to Jackson and is on the record saying that Hand was one of the first coaches to show him love on the recruiting trail. 

Expect the Longhorns to keep pushing for their top targets, even if a few of them commit elsewhere in the coming months. Texas hopes that the travel restrictions are eventually lifted, and that getting those top targets to Austin can turn around any momentum currently going against the Longhorns, at offensive line and other positions. There could be a record number of decommitments across the country if the 2021 group is allowed to take late visits. There is even talk of eliminating the early signing period for one year. 

The dust has yet to settle, and signing day is still a full football season away. Many things could change. A strong 2020 season is the best way for the Longhorns to turn momentum, but the challenges are obvious. Oklahoma keeps winning Big 12 titles. LSU just won a national championship. The SEC can recruit Texas with ease with Texas A&M as a member. Average seasons won’t attract top talent for much longer, and Texas can’t experience sustained success until it fixes the problems along the offensive line. 

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