February 3, 2008

The last Locker Room before Signing Day

Q: (odermann■) - I was wanting to get your evaluation of Darrell Scott and who he compares to recently in the 2007, 2006, or any other previous classes. It seems to me that he has elite breakaway speed against some pretty good competition in California. Where would you rank him of the top 5 backs that have come out in recent years? And what kind of immediate impact do you think he might have on next year's team? Thanks in advance.

A: Scott's a hard guy to compare to anyone else and if you want my true opinion, I think we're looking at the first Darrell Scott instead of a guy who reminds others of someone else they used to watch. When it comes to being able to run with the football, Scott has few peers. His extremely strong lower body allows him to punish defenses between the tackles and break a lot of tackles. What's amazing about Scott is that he has such an incredible burst and when he's able to get into space, he can be an electrifying runner. Go back and watch his film and you'll see a player that almost always has his shoulders squared and turned up-field when bouncing his runs to the outside. There's a seamless acceleration from his burst as he cuts that makes it very difficult for players to tackle him in space. The thing you don't know about Scott is how well he'll adjust to the finer points of the position. Can he pick up the blitz? Can he be a threat as a receiver? If he can acclimate himself to the things the Texas staff wants to see from him, he can have an Adrian Peterson-like impact on the team in my opinion. He has that type of talent and this team is in desperate need of a guy that can score from anywhere on the field.

Q: (Fear_the_Cow■) - Who is our next big kick blocker/special teams stud? Any chance of Tray Allen moving to guard or is the staff dead set on him being a tackle? What do you see making up the tight end rotation next year? Is Josh Marshall ready for major minutes and is Blaine Irby ready to be the full time starter? Do you see Quan Cosby being replaced on kick returns by Desean Hales and/or Curtis Brown?

A: Good questions. I think you mentioned one of the next great special teams players for the Longhorns in Brown. I would expect that he's going to be an impact performer as a gunner and as a potential kick blocker/return man. Keep an eye on true freshman Aaron Williams because he might be the best kick blocking prospect I've ever seen coming out of high school.

Over on the offensive side of the ball, Allen is definitely going to remain at tackle, in part because there's not yet enough depth outside that would allow Allen to move inside. Besides, let's be a little patient with the 2008 Lone Star Recruiting No.1-ranked player. Don't think he's not going to succeed because he wasn't Tony Boseli in his first year. Those are awfully high and unrealistic expectations. It was the staff's fault that the offensive line lacked depth and experience coming into this past season, not Allen's.

Look for Irby to be the starter at tight end. I've talked with a couple of people who have told me that he's having a terrific off-season. As for Marshall, you asked the million dollar question. Is he ready? That's what we're about to find out, but there aren't many known commodities at tight end for UT and he needs to be ready right now.

Finally, it's probably too soon to project the kick return guys, but if Brown isn't in the mix then someone needs to be shot. Hales will get his shot to return kicks, but maybe not as a true freshman. Brown's not always the first guy to trot out a puppy in the return game.

Q: (DeepEddyHorn ) - I know it is still early in the evaluation process, but a couple of questions about the 2009 LB class. Can you give us a brief take on the top LB prospects in Texas (Chris McAllister, Austin Moss, Chris Williams, Tariq Allen, Kerry Hyder)? Is this a year where Texas can stay in state with the LBs or do you expect an OOS push? Is Dexter Prattbeing recruited as a LB or RB? Is Hyder projected to play LB or with his hand on the ground?

A: I think the state has some very good linebackers, but I'm still not sure that I've seen a great one. I really want to see more film of McAllister because he's my favorite guy right now. He's got great explosiveness coming off the edge and he's got room to grow physically. Moss is a player that I think has little downside, but the question is how much upside does he have? His instincts at the position and his overall feel for the game are outstanding. In the right scheme and the right situation, he can be an all-conference performer, but I think questions still exist and will exist about whether he can be a sideline-to-sideline player. He doesn't have to be that kind of guy to be a very good college player, but it limits his overall recruiting ranking by not having the elite physical tools. I really would like to see more of Williams and Allen, although I think I have a good read on both. Hyder is a guy that looks like a future defensive end to me. As far as Pratt goes, he has the physical tools to be a national prospect as a linebacker, but he's likely go to want to play on offense. Everyone is still trying to figure exactly how they want to recruit him.

Q: (In Stink) - Two questions about possible position switches:

1) I know in the last Locker Room you discussed Chris Ogbonnaya's role in the backfield next year. However, if Texas does sign Darrell Scott as it appears, then his role would become limited. On the other hand, Finley's departure leaves a big hole at tight end. Ogbonnaya played there some earlier in his career, and his athletic abilities would seem to actually be a better fit there. He's 225 pounds. Any possibility he could hit the weights and the plates, put on 15 or so pounds and contribute more at tight end next year than he would at tailback?

2) I saw it posted recently that Henry Melton is 290 pounds. I know you have opined that Henry could be an excellent defensive tackle, and I've always thought you were spot on with that. Has that move already been made? Any details?

A: I don't think the staff is going to want to move Ogbonnaya to another position heading into his final year. Other than Vondrell McGee, the Longhorns don't have anyone with any experience at running back. Even if Scott is a star in his first year, the Longhorns are going to need Ogbonnaya on passing downs at the very least. As it stands right now, the staff has very big plans for Ogbonnaya at running back.

With Melton, I don't think anything official has been determined, but I think it's something we're likely going see happen in the spring, if as an experiment if nothing else. He has the physical talent to play on Sunday, but he has one year remaining to find his home. With so much depth at defensive end, it would seem to make perfect sense.

Q: (utdadam) - How quickly do you think the staff will incorporate Darrell Scott into the lineup assuming we get Scott? Will he phase in slowly or is he good enough to be "the guy" right away?

A: I think the possibility of him getting on the field early next year is a real possibility for two reasons. First, there's no clear lead back on the Texas roster. Everyone believes that Vondrell McGee can be that guy, but he hasn't proven it yet. Also, this offense is looking for a home run hitter and Scott might be the only back on the roster that can score from any spot on the field at any time. That's where the loss of Jamaal Charles really hurts and you can make a strong case that without that weapon in the backfield in 2008, the team could have some offensive struggles.

Q: (ptrain37) - Do you think that we will change the way we recruit OL with the way our line seemed to get pushed around the last few years?

A: I think the staff is pretty consistent with what they are looking for in offensive linemen and I'm not sure that's going to change. They like their tackles to be lean and athletic coming out of high school and they aren't going to go after academic risks or big guys that don't possess great knee bend and athleticism. The bottom line on the offensive line recruiting from 2003-05 is that they didn't sign enough elite prospects and the overall volume of prospects enough. Texas signed two in 2003, three in 2004 and two in 2005. That's not enough and it essentially gave the program very little room for error. With several guys not developing and others producing underwhelming results, it's brought into question the types of prospects coming into the program. However, the recruiting from 2006-08 has been much stronger and the young talent in the program is an obvious strength heading into the future.

Q: (Northernhorn) - If in fact Darrell Scott signs with Texas, how do you the recruiting of RB's for next year's class to shape up? What happens to guys like Chris Whaley and Christian Michael and others? How does this change how many RB's we go after and who we go after?

A: Whaley is a must-have in the eyes of the staff. Outside of that, I look for them to look for a playmaker-type that can give them a home-run option. Think Jamaal Charles or Ramonce Taylor. They don't have anyone in the program like that right now and it's dearly needed.

Q: (BuschLeague) - In honor of signing day, pls share the Eddie (think his first name was Eddie) Brown story about the DT who committed on his visit but was never offered.

A: Man, I can't even remember the last time I told that story. The way it was explained to me is that Brown was brought in late in January as a courtesy because he was so high on UT. When they brought him down it was already decided that he wasn't going to be offered. While he was on his visit, he was with a small group of players (including then current players on the team) at Mack Brown's house and during the dinner he let everyone know that he had announcement to make by tapping his spoon on a glass. He then stood up at the table an announced that he was committing to the Longhorns. It was an uncomfortable moment for everyone there and I was told there was absolute silence at the table. It was later that it was explained that he didn't have an offer to commit to. Just for the record, I got that story from someone that knew Brown and talked to those on hand.

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