Texas quarterback Casey Thompson (8) picks up a block from teammate Christian Jones (70) during a game against Louisiana Tech at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Aug. 31, 2019. Jones is among those competing for a job on UT's offensive line this season. [Stephen Spillman for Statesman]

Football

Texas notebook: A half-dozen candidates vying for two offensive line spots

Posted August 15th, 2020

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Story highlights
  • Texas coach Tom Herman says six players are competing for two spots on the Longhorns' offensive line.
  • LB Juwan Mitchell and WRs Al'Vonte Woodard and Troy Omeire were injured on Saturday.
  • Herman and OC Mike Yurcich are "very much aligned" when it comes to recruiting quarterbacks.

Texas returns eight starters this season to what was a top-20 offense that averaged 35.2 points and 465.8 yards per game.

The Longhorns don’t need a new quarterback. Sam Ehlinger is back. And they have a starting running back, with Roschon Johnson and Bijan Robinson pushing Keaontay Ingram for carries. The receiving corps needs a makeover, but Brennan Eagles started seven times last season.

There are a couple of openings on the offensive line, though.

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There are about six Longhorns in play for the two spots — one tackle and one guard.

Texas lineman Denzel Okafor runs drills during a 2018 fall camp practice. (Stephen Spillman/For Statesman)

Texas coach Tom Herman on Saturday said it’s “safe to say” that left tackle Samuel Cosmi (13 starts last year) and right guard Junior Angilau (12 starts) will resume their starting roles. And Derek Kerstetter, who played mostly right tackle in 2019, most likely will shift to center.

That leaves the Longhorns searching for a right tackle and a left guard. Herman listed senior Denzel Okafor, sophomores Christian Jones, Willie Tyler and Reese Moore and redshirt freshmen Isaiah Hookfin and Tyler Johnson as the six linemen vying for playing time.

“That one will go the distance, I would imagine, for a while here to make sure that we get the best five out there,” Herman said.

Johnson and Jones were backup tackles last year. Moore has practiced as a tackle in the past. Herman said Okafor and Hookfin are working out as tackles and guards. Tyler, traditionally a guard, also is getting reps at tackle.

Among that group, only Okafor has ever started a game.

Injury updates: Three Longhorns were added to the injury report on Saturday. Linebacker Juwan Mitchell and wide receiver Al’Vonte Woodard suffered head injuries, but Herman said neither was considered serious. Freshman receiver Troy Omeire also “tweaked his knee a little bit.”

Additionally, Herman confirmed that two players have now opted out of the upcoming season due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. It had been previously reported that defensive lineman Marqez Bimage and running back Daniel Young would not play.

“Obviously we’re in constant communication with them,” Herman said. “They’re doing a great job of staying in shape. They will do a great job with their academics.”

Texas offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich answers questions from the local media on Feb. 11, 2020. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman)

Recruiting alignment: Texas received a commitment from Southlake Carroll quarterback Quinn Ewers on Friday. Ewers is ranked by 247Sports as the top-rated recruit in the 2022 recruiting cycle.

Read more: Texas adds five-star quarterback Quinn Ewers to 2022 recruiting class

Since he has not yet signed, rules prohibited Herman from mentioning Ewers by name on Saturday. He was asked, however, how his vision of a quarterback recruit has meshed with what new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich wants in a prospect.

Herman said that was a big talking point during the interview process with Yurcich. Ewers is the first quarterback to commit to Texas since Yurcich’s hire in December.

“We found out very early the things that we value are very much aligned,” Herman said. “There was no issue with either of us in terms of the things that we feel are extremely important in that position to win at a championship level. We were very much in lockstep.”

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