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 lineman Samuel Cosmi hits a blocking shed during practice at the Whitaker Sports Complex on Sunday, August 4, 2019. [ANA RAMIREZ/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Football

The Dotted Line: How have Texas’ offensive starters lived up to their recruiting rankings?

Posted August 28th, 2019

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Texas’ season begins at home against Louisiana Tech on Saturday night. The initial depth chart was released Monday, and while the starting spots at certain positions are fluid, the depth chart provided fans a glimpse of the key members of this year’s team.

Let’s take a look back at how the 11 offensive starters ranked coming out of high school. We’ll use 247Sports’ composite rankings and previous editions of the Fabulous 55:

Quarterback: Sam Ehlinger (Jr.)

FYI: 6-3/230; 20 starts; Westlake (2017)   

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Prep rankings: 4 stars; No. 4-ranked dual-threat; No. 10 on the Fab 55

Ehlinger was an elite quarterback prospect coming out of Westlake, where he broke school records held by NFL quarterbacks Drew Brees and Nick Foles. He led Westlake to a state championship appearance as a junior and attended the Elite 11 in the summer before his senior season. He committed to Charlie Strong and the Longhorns soon after receiving an offer, but an injury-plagued senior season dampened the end of his prep career. We ranked him nine spots higher in the state than the composite rankings; he’s more than met expectations entering his junior season. 

When he signed with Texas, Carthage running back Keaontay Ingram was the 13th-ranked recruit on the Statesman’s 2018 Fab 55. (Mark Martin/ETSN.fm)

Running back: Keaontay Ingram (Soph.)

FYI: 6-0/220; 2 starts; Carthage (2018)

Prep rankings: 4 stars; No. 6-ranked running back. No. 13 on the Fab 55

Ingram was a legit superstar in high school as he helped Carthage remain a powerhouse at the Class 4A level. He rushed for more than 5,000 yards in his prep career and was the MVP of the Class 4A Division I state championship game as a junior. He was the 15th-ranked player in Texas, per the composite, which is close to where he ranked on the Fab 55.

Staying healthy is the major question mark for him as he enters his second year. 

San Jose Valley Christian’s Collin Johnson (5) was the nation’s 200th overall rated recruit in 2016. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

Wide receiver, X: Collin Johnson (Sr.)

FYI: 6-6/220; 17 starts; Valley Christian (Calif.) (2016)

Prep rankings: 4 stars; No. 41-ranked wide receiver; No. 200-ranked in nation 

One of two offensive starters that played high school football outside of Texas, Johnson has emerged as the Longhorns’ best playmaker. He’s an All-American candidate with a rare combination of size and agility. His father was an All-American defensive back at Texas as well, and his brother Kirk is a running back for the Longhorns. Johnson shared the receiving spotlight with Lil’Jordan Humphrey last year, but with Humphrey gone, Johnson is expected to be the Longhorns’ top receiving threat.

He battled with consistency issues early in his career, but he’ll likely leave Texas as a future NFL draft pick. He was a top-200 player in high school and has lived up the hype at Texas. 

Wide receiver, H: Devin Duvernay  (Sr.)

FYI: 5-11/200; 17 starts; Garland Saschse (2016)

Prep rankings: 4 stars; No. 5-ranked wide receiver, No. 8 on the Fab 55

Duvernay took an interesting route to Texas. He was allowed out of his national letter of intent to Baylor after Art Briles was forced out in Waco.

He was the top-rated recruit of Texas’ 2016 class and is still hoping to put his mark on the program despite entering his senior season with just 17 career starts. Texas needs him to be consistent as a senior. 

Wide receiver, Z: Brennan Eagles (Soph.)

FYI: 6-4/225; 1 start; Alief Taylor (2018)

Prep rankings: 4 stars; No. 10-ranked wide receiver; No. 8 on the Fab 55

John Burt may get the first snaps at the third wide receiver spot, but Eagles is expected to emerge as a go-to option for Texas’ offense. Every recruiting service considered him a top-10 player in the state and the best offensive prospect Texas signed in a 2018 class that was headlined by defensive backs Caden Sterns, B.J. Foster and Jalen Green. 

Lake Travis’ Cade Brewer originally committed to SMU, but flipped to Texas after Tom Herman was hired. (Ralph Barerra/American-Statesman)

Tight end: Cade Brewer (Jr.)

FYI: 6-4/250; 3 starts; Lake Travis (2017)

Prep rankings: 3 stars; No. 45-ranked tight end; 136-ranked player in Texas 

Brewer was one of the first prospects Herman’s staff chased once he took over at UT with just months remaining before 2017 signing day. Brewer flipped from SMU to Texas and is overachieving based on his recruiting ranking, though nobody who watched him at Lake Travis is surprised. He’s a perfect fit in Texas’ scheme and he’s done a great job adding weight and strength. He’s poised for a big junior season with Andrew Beck gone. 

Left tackle: Samuel Cosmi (Soph.)

FYI: 6-7/300; 13 starts; Humble Atascocita (2017) 

Prep rankings: 3 stars; No. 104-ranked offensive tackle, No. 155-ranked player in Texas

Cosmi wasn’t a heralded recruit. He followed Herman in the 2017 class, flipping to Texas from Houston when his future head coach took over the Longhorns. Cosmi is now the best offensive lineman in Texas’ program and a sure-starter until he leaves college. He started at right tackle as a freshman.

Texas guard Junior Angilau played at the Army All-American Game in 2018. (Mike Craven)

Left guard: Junior Angilau (Fr.)

FYI: 6-6/300; 0 starts; Salt Lake East (Utah) (2018)

Prep rankings: 4 stars; No. 10-ranked offensive tackle, No. 125-ranked in nation 

Angilau is still in a heated battle with Georgia Tech transfer Parker Braun for the starting spot. It’s clear that Angilau has emerged as one of the best young offensive linemen in the program and is among Texas’ top six options up front heading into the season. He was a late bloomer in high school, but ended his career as a highly-ranked prospect who played in the Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. 

Center: Zach Shackelford (Sr.)

FYI: 6-4/305; 27 starts; Belton (2016)

Prep rankings: 3 stars; No. 52-ranked guard; No. 131-ranked player in Texas

No player in Texas’ program under Herman has overproduced more than Shackelford, who was the lowest-rated signee in Texas’ 2016 recruiting class. He’s entering his senior year as the anchor of the offensive line and nearly 30 starts under his belt. Center may be the hardest position on offense to project because most star offensive linemen play offensive tackle or guard in high school. 

Right guard: Derek Kerstetter (Jr.)

FYI: 6-5/300; 15 starts; San Antonio Reagan (2017) 

Prep rankings: 3 stars; No. 30-ranked guard; No. 84-ranked player in Texas

Kerstetter enters his junior season with 15 starts. Not bad for a former three-star who was committed to Oklahoma State before Herman and his staff flipped him late in the 2017 cycle. He was asked to play right tackle as a freshman, but is now back at a more natural position of right guard. The former Army All-American should thrive in the role. 

Right tackle: Denzel Okafor (Jr.)

FYI: 6-4/310; 4 starts; Lewisville (2016)

Prep rankings: 4 stars; No. 12-ranked guard; No. 48 on the Fab 55

A big year from Okafor would ease many of the concerns up front for the Longhorns. He enters his redshirt junior season with only four starts. More will be expected from him than ever before in his time at Texas. A good season means Kerstetter can stay at guard. Early struggles will require a shuffling of the deck by offensive line coach Herb Hand. 

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