Every week this fall, we’re looking at a specific number that’s tied to Texas football.
This week’s notable number is 10 — which, of course, has been retired by UT to honor Vince Young. Freshman Cameron Dicker has 10 kickoffs this year, leading to seven touchbacks. Texas is either winning or tied in its all-time series with 10 of the teams in the Pac-12, but one of its two losing records is against USC, which it hosts on Saturday. The Longhorns are 1-5 against the Trojans.
Ten also marks the number of players from UT’s 2017 signing class that have made at least one start as Longhorns.
In last Saturday’s 28-21 win over Tulsa, redshirt freshman offensive lineman Samuel Cosmi became the 10th member of that 2017 class to start. Defensive backs Josh Thompson and Kobe Boyce, both fellow 2017 signees, also made their first starts last week; the Texas defense took the field first. (Joshua Rowland, another 2017 recruit, has not logged any official starts but was Texas’ kicker last season).
Thompson and Boyce combined for six tackles against the Golden Hurricane. Cosmi, meanwhile, stood out at right tackle. Texas ran for 241 yards and allowed no sacks, and Cosmi cleared a big hole on Keaontay Ingram’s 29-yard touchdown run.
On Sunday, Cosmi joined Penn State’s Ryan Bates as the two tackles on Pro Football Focus’ national team of the week. The website gave Cosmi an 84.0 grade. It wrote that Cosmi “also kept a clean sheet when dropping back but made this team on the back of some excellent run-blocking …”
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 9, 2018
The 6-5, 295-pound Cosmi was engaged in a position battle with Derek Kerstetter throughout fall camp. Kerstetter, who started 10 times at right tackle last year as a freshman, got the first snap against Maryland but Cosmi also played. Last week, an injury to center Zach Shackelford forced Texas to move the versatile Kerstetter to right guard and start Cosmi at tackle.
“Kerstetter has never played right guard at the University of Texas until last game and Cosmi hadn’t started,” quarterback Sam Ehlinger said. “For those two guys to come in and do what they did, and I really didn’t feel any pressure from that side at all, it speaks on their work ethic in the offseason, their attention to detail in the playbook. It was very, very good to see those guys come in and be able to fill their role and do exactly what they needed to do.”
A three-star prospect out of the Houston area, Cosmi originally committed to Tom Herman when the coach was at Houston. But Cosmi flipped to Texas two days before signing day. He redshirted that fall. In March, Herman praised Cosmi’s work in the weight room and told reporters that “I think that the sky is the limit for Sam Cosmi.”
Cosmi will likely start again on Saturday as Shackelford is still dealing with a foot injury. That will keep Kerstetter at right guard while Elijah Rodriguez, the former starting right guard, should make a second straight appearance at center.
The Trojans are allowing 233.5 rushing yards per game, which ranks 112th in the NCAA. USC has only five sacks, but that number may have more to do with the fact that UNLV and Stanford have attempted just 55 passes. Last year, USC sacked Ehlinger five times.
“There’s some different creatures that USC is going to be throwing at (Cosmi), but I think we all feel comfortable that you can win with him,” Herman said. “When Shack gets healthy again, we’ll see what that does to the depth chart and the shuffling and all that.”
Texas’ 2017 class: For starters
Ten members of that year’s class, which ranked 25th nationally, have gone one to log at least one start at Texas — QB Sam Ehlinger, RB Toneil Carter, LB Gary Johnson, DB Josh Thompson, DB Kobe Boyce, DL Ta’Quon Graham, OL Derek Kerstetter, RB Daniel Young, TE Cade Brewer and OL Samuel Cosmi