Texas head coach Tom Herman holds up the "Hook 'Em Horns" sign as he arrives to Milan Puskar Stadium before an NCAA football game against West Virginia on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, in Morgantown, W. Va. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Football

Commitment 101: Texas hopes Max Merril becomes next three-star starter

Posted September 25th, 2020

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Texas’ 2021 recruiting class grew to 18 members Friday afternoon when three-star offensive tackle Max Merril picked the Longhorns over 39 other offers. The Strake Jesuit product becomes the third offensive lineman to join Texas’ 2021 recruiting class, joining four-star offensive tackle Hayden Conner and three-star center Mike Myslinski

Merril is a 6-4, 273-pound prospect ranked as the 108th-best offensive tackle in the 2021 cycle. He picked up an offer from the Longhorns on Sept. 21. Merril chose Texas three days later over strong interest from Louisville and Indiana. Merril started at left tackle for a Strake Jesuit squad that went 10-3 and reached the third round of the Class 6A Division I state playoffs.

“Being offered by Texas was a dream come true,” Merril said. “It was an opportunity I wanted to take advantage of when I was offered. A lot of hard work led me here. I’ll need to put in a lot more hard work to make an impact once I’m at Texas after my senior year. I’m excited.”

Skill set: Texas’ offensive line features two former three-star recruits who overachieved thus far in their college career with Samuel Cosmi and Derek Kerstetter. The Longhorns hope Merril is the next overachiever along the offensive line. He’s a big, athletic prospect who possesses a similar frame to Kerstetter. Merril could spin down to guard, or even center. 

“I think I can play multiple places up front. I play tackle now, but I could play guard if that is what is needed from me,” Merril said. “I want to play more than I want to play a certain position. I’ll be ready to help the team in whatever position coach (Herb) Hand thinks is the best.”

Immediate impact: Being able to provide true freshman offensive lineman with redshirt opportunities is the sign of positive recruiting success at the position. Texas can afford to stash Merril away for a year or two as he grows to over 300 pounds and adjusts to the next level. A true freshman hasn’t taken significant snaps along the offensive line for the Longhorns since Kerstetter in the 2017 season, and that was mostly out of necessity in Tom Herman’s first year at Texas. Merril isn’t currently college ready, but that’s okay. Only a select few teenagers are capable of succeeding at the Power Five level. 

Fitting into the program: Merril was clearly offered with the intention to take a quick commitment since it only took him three days to pull the trigger. He’s a prospect who wants to be in Austin and knows there are a few years of work to be done before sniffing the two-deep, which is important considering the potential for a logjam on the roster with the 2020 season not counting towards eligibility of the existing players. 

Recruiting at the position: Texas entered the 2021 class with high expectations at each of the offensive line positions given the amount of talent within the state at tackle, guard and center. The class started with a pledge from Conner before the 2019 season, but the Longhorns missed out on Tommy and James Brockermeyer and are trailing Oklahoma for Savion Byrd and Bryce Foster. Offensive line coach Herb Hand did not secure his top targets in the cycle. Merril is likely the last offensive line commitment of the 2021 class with Hand moving his focus to a new crop in 2022.

PLAYERPOS.HIGH SCHOOLSTARSCOMMITMENT DATE
Hayden ConnerOTKaty Taylor4July 23 (2019)
Juan DavisWR/TEEverman3July 26 (2019)
Derrick Harris Jr.DENew Caney4Aug. 3 (2019)
Ja'Tavion SandersATHDenton Ryan5Sept. 8 (2019)
Jordon ThomasDEPort Arthur Memorial4May 2
Morice BlackwellOLBArlington Martin4May 10
Jonathon BrooksRBHallettsville3May 15
Casey CainWRWarren Easton (La.)3May 15
Isaac PearsonPProKick AustrailiaNRMay 29
Ishmael IbraheemCBDallas Kimball4June 15
JD CoffeySKennedale4June 15
Jamier JohnsonCBJohn Muir (Pasadena, Calif.)4July 3
Gunnar HelmTECherry Creek (Englewood, Colo.)3July 27
Michael MyslinskiCBishop Kennedy (Jacksonville, Fla.)3Aug. 6
Jaden AlexisWRMonarch Prep (Pompano Beach, Fla.)3Aug. 8
Charles WrightQBAustin3Aug. 22
Max MerrilOTStrake Jesuit3Sept. 25

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