– Branson Bragg: Texas will have one of their top offensive line targets on campus this weekend in Crandall (TX) OL Branson Bragg. This will be Bragg’s first visit to Texas while new OL coach Herb Hand is in Austin. So it will be a chance for Hand to make a big first impression and put Texas firmly back into the pole position with Bragg. Hand and Texas have been able to get top offensive line targets in Kenyon Green, Tyler Johnson, and Javonne Shephard on campus recently. And adding Bragg to that list is only more good news for the Longhorns.
Bragg will be on campus for Texas Relays. But told me he and his family will be making the trip over to visit Texas and their staff later this weekend. While his parents have already been to Texas with him before, this will be the first time for some other members of Bragg’s family to visit UT.
At the moment, Bragg is taking his recruitment rather slow and isn’t saying too much. He doesn’t have any other visits planned as of right now. So like I said, getting him on campus again is huge for Texas. Especially with schools like Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and others pushing hard for his services. – (Andrew)
– Earlier this week, Texas offered St. John Bosco (CA) OLB Spencer Lytle.
— Spencer Lytle (@_SpencerLytle_) March 20, 2018
I recently spoke with Spencer, and he had a visit planned to Texas A&M. So after receiving the Texas offer, he and his family were working on changing their flights back to California so they can visit both A&M and Texas this weekend.
Lytle texted me back and told me he will be visiting Texas all day Thursday, stay the night in Austin and leave on Friday to visit Texas A&M. Good news for Texas as they just offered yesterday. We will try to speak with him post visit and have some more information next week. – (Andrew)
– Marcus Stripling: Texas is getting a big DL target visiting this weekend, as Mayde Creek’s Marcus Stripling is planning to visit the Longhorns.
Stripling was my stand out in the Houston Opening Regional and is one of the top DL in the state. Getting him on campus is huge in terms of swaying him away from playing on the wrong side of the Red River. – (Will)
– Calvin Anderson: Texas’ very likely starting left tackle was at practice Thursday. But it was just a as visitor. Rice grad transfer Calvin Anderson let me know Monday that he was going to be at UT Thursday, and then tweeted this out.
Headed to UT’s spring practice tomorrow 🤘🏿
— Calvin Anderson (@THE_CONDA25) March 21, 2018
Anderson is still finishing up his degree at Rice and will graduate in May. He officially signed his transfer paperwork to Texas last week and will arrive on campus this summer. He let me know he’s working out at least 5 times a week to stay in the best shape possible so that he’s ready to play from the moment he steps on campus. – (Andrew)
– Longhorns got a wonderful low-70s day for their first Spring practice. The sun made it feel like 90s, but that’s just Texas.
Here is the depth chart that I was able to pull away from Tuesday based on a few drills. This is the first depth chart of Spring, so do not put much weight on it as it will surely change by Thursday (the next open practice).
QB: Sam Ehlinger
RB: Daniel Young
X: Collin Johnson
Y: Jerrod Heard
Z: Devin Duvernay
TE: Andrew Beck
OL: Denzel Okafor – Patrick Vahe – Zach Shackelford – Elijah Rodriguez – Derek Kerstetter
DL: Charles Omenihu – Chris Nelson – Breckyn Hager
Mac: Anthony Wheeler
RLB: Gary Johnson
BLB: Malcolm Roach
NB: John Bonney
CBs: Kris Boyd, Davante Davis
BS: PJ Locke
FS: Brandon Jones
QB: Shane Buechele/Cameron Rising
RB: Toneil Carter/Tristian Houston
X: Lil’Jordan Humphrey/Brennan Eagles
Y: Davion Curtis
Z: John Burt
TE: Reese Leitao
OL: Samuel Cosmi – Mikey Grandy – Austin Alsup – Tope Imade – JP Urquidez
DL: Taquon Graham – Gerald Wilson – Jamari Chisholm
Mac: Edwin Freeman/Demarco Boyd
RLB: Ayodele Adeoye
BLB: Jeffrey McCulloch
NB: Josh Thompson
CBs: Kobe Boyce, Anthony Cook
BS: Chris Brown
FS: Caden Sterns/Montreal Estell
– Fast Five: Practice Notes (More can be found on our donor board)
– Two recruits were in attendance during the practice. Two of Texas’ top 2019 TE prospects Baylor Cupp and Brayden Liebrock made it in to watch the Longhorns. Getting both on campus is huge for Texas, but especially the appearance of Baylor Cupp.
– Daniel Young was starting and thats partly due to him being the legit #1 and Kyle Porter being out with an ankle injury
– Chris Nelson was going through drills rocking the green “don’t touch me” jersey due to injury.
– Kris Boyd has taken a leadership role with the CBs, helping guys like Anthony Cook in drills.
– Sam Ehlinger is your starter right now and it looks like it’ll stay that way. – (Will)
– Big Board Introductions | OL
This is a position Texas will need to fill up on in this class. Luckily for them, there is quite a bit of talent, both in, and around the state. I would expect the staff to try and grab five players, and most of them be offensive tackle first types. However, if the past has shown anything, the staff has a favorite type of player and that is the tweener, a guy who could player either guard or tackle. Of the six offensive linemen Texas took in the 2018 class, I believe only one has a solid position. The others could go either way.
This is by design due to the base offense Texas runs: the inside zone. The inside zone scheme uses linemen very interchangeably which is why, under Tom Herman, there has been a big emphasis on cross-training four linemen with a true left tackle. Historically, quicker offensive linemen are recruited for the scheme, however it’s really an effort scheme as one has to beat defenders to a point in a lot of situations. I asked JY what a perfect “inside zone lineman” looks like:
“In a perfect world if a lineman has a player on his inside or outside eye, he has to be able to get going on a 45 degree angle. Be able to outrun them, get your head across and generate as much vertical movement as you can, with the lateral movement designed to run them and wear the defender out. Still you have to be strong enough to not get pushed back and have a good enough hand game to not get whistled for holding.
It’s more a mental type than a physical one. In a true zone scheme the lineman is responsible for an area and have to be able to think, anticipate and react quickly. He also has to trust his teammates, be smart, and read the body language and understand tendencies of a defense in a particular situation.”
– 5-star OT Kenyon Green (Humble Atascocita) 6’4″ 317
If I had a player comparison it would probably be Trent Williams. Very similar build and athleticism. Great hip flexibility and is explosive in everything he does. Would flourish in Oklahoma’s offense running the counter play they love so much as he literally explodes into people on contact. Has great feet and is able to adjust quickly and square people up. His feet are what sets him apart as everything is fluid and nasty. Will be an elite left tackle at the next level and will be able to step onto most campuses and compete for immediate playing time. Will most likely be a 3 year player who leaves early if he’s able to stay healthy. Could also play along the interior as he has a ton of power to go along with his athleticism.
Green is the crème de la crème in Texas this year. While Texas A&M is probably the favorite at this time, Texas has pulled back within striking distance after Green took a trip to visit the Longhorns on March 10th. So now it’s a Texas vs Texas A&M battle again, and Green is going to take his time before making a decision. Alabama, Oklahoma, and LSU are the other schools to watch in this one.
– 4-star OT Tyler Johnson (Conroe Oak Ridge) 6’5″ 308lbs
Great frame. Has room to add 20 or so pounds. Projects as a right tackle for me, or a jumbo guard. Really like his aggressive style and willingness to finish each play. He’s very quick for his size and would be a good pulling guard. He locates players very well on screens and once he locks on its over. He has very strong hands but an underdeveloped punch. An opportunity for him will be to turn his hands into weapons. Not very flexible in the hips and is a waist bender a little bit. Still he would be a good get for whomever lands his services. He’s powerful, aggressive and nasty. Right tackle or jumbo athletic guard.
Johnson is Texas’ primary target for 2019’s offensive line class because as I’ve heard it, “I’d take Kenyon Green next year, but I’d take Tyler Johnson in three.” Texas is doing all it can when it comes to making him feel wanted. Texas made a lasting impression on Johnson and his family when they visited earlier this March. The other dogs to keep an eye on in this race are Oklahoma and Texas A&M, but I believe Texas is by far the favorite.
– 4-star OT Javonne Shepard (Houston North Forest) 6’7″ 305lbs
Great length, frame and feet. Very flexible. Good hips and athleticism. Nasty, but not all day nasty. Can get content after initial contact and doesn’t always finish people off like I’d like to see. Still he does have a nasty streak in him. When he does get his hands on an opponent he crushes them. Seems like a player who has had the game come naturally to him and needs a coach who will ride him and develop the technical aspect of the game. That coach will need to bring out the nastiness aspect of his game. Shepard is effortless in pass protection and does well in cut blocking situations. Nice short area quickness. Not going to get “out-athleted by many players. Really good player with great talent that needs it brought out of him.
Shepard doesn’t appear to be in a hurry to commit to any school this Spring. He visited Texas with Tyler Johnson earlier this March and we were told he “loved it.” Herb Hand seems to have made a noticeable impact on this recruitment. Shepard seems to be taking his time, but already has a group of five schools that he will be narrowing down to soon. Texas, Oklahoma, and A&M are in that list and all are legit contenders.
– 4-star OT Jack Buford (Lutheran North, STL) 6’5″ 290lbs
Buford has outstanding size and strength at 6’5” 290lbs and the frame to hold it well. Jack excels as a run blocker, and I’m sure this prowess comes from Lutheran North’s Wing-T where they ask him to execute many different types of blocks and schemes. That unfortunately means I cannot get a good read on his skill in pass protection; however, pass protection is very doable if you are athletic and have quick feet. Luckily for Jack he’s a pretty athletic guy as he’s also the star of the Lutheran North basketball squad. I wouldn’t be worried with his lack of pass protection film.
Texas is in the hunt for the national prospect, but it seems to be an Oklahoma and Florida battle right now. His father played football at Tulsa, so they have connection around Oklahoma and Texas.
– 4-star OG EJ Ndoma-Ogar (Allen) 6’2″ 305lbs
One of my favorite linemen for the 2019 class. He’s extremely powerful with surprising hip flexibility. To see him sit in his stance with ease is a good tell of his athleticism. He’s very explosive, thick in the lower body and aggressive. Above all else he finishes blocks with a vengeance. He will be a great fit in almost any offense, but particularly with both Oklahoma and Texas who both like to run the power spread. He needs to work on the upper body strength, but he is already powerful, heavy handed and nasty. He will be a draft pick if he can stay healthy.
Even though EJ has been traveling around the country picking up offers, Texas sits in a very good position here. Oklahoma may be the team to watch though as they are actively pursuing the powerful Allen guard. I feel if it ended today though, he’d be a Longhorn.
– 4-star OC Branson Bragg (Crandall) 6’4″ 295lbs
When God created an offensive lineman’s mentality, he had this kid in mind. He’s all day nasty. He insists on burying his opponent, often hitting them two or three times and once while they’re down. A great frame for what I see as an interior offensive lineman. Putting him at guard or center for 3 or 4 seasons will infuse attitude into an offensive line and a team for that matter.
This kid has an explosive punch that will he developed further as he gains weight and strength in a college S&C program. I would describe his punch now as lethal and it will only get better. I say he’s an interior ol as he doesn’t have the length to play on the edge although he is athletic enough to do so in a pinch. This guy is a must get for any program after him as hell be a cornerstone for years to come
Beyond all of this, Bragg is a phenomenal student. His mother is the AP chemistry teacher of his high school, and he nailed the ACT with a 30. He’s very cerebral on the line of scrimmage, and watches X’s and O’s film in his free time for fun.
Center is a huge position of need for the Longhorns, and they are in a great position to nab the top center in the state. The schools that Texas will be fighting with the hardest right now are the Sooners who have been in contact with Branson non-stop and Stanford who have been swaying him with playing time and academics. Branson will be taking his time with this process and I wouldn’t expect a commitment until before the season.
– 4-star OT Stacey Wilkins – Fairview (Camden, AR) 6’7″ 280
Stacey is one of my favorite prospects. He flew under the radar a bit and has blown up recently. One of the best frames you’ll see for a prospect, with length to give most any pass rusher fits. He’s extremely quick and twitchy for such a big guy, and you can tell he isn’t lazy as he runs his feet and finishes guys off all the time. He lacks strength in the upper body and will need to develop his hands. He’s naturally strong, but needs to get college strong as early on college players will give him a little trouble. I see Stacey coming in and redshirting for a year and being a part time starter year two and developing into a full time 3 year starter in a program. He’s your prototypical athletic dancing bear left tackle who just needs to gain weight and strength. His film indicates that he’s a very hard worker and it is one of the many reasons I’m so high on him.
Even though Wilkins lives in the Ozarks of Arkansas, he’s originally from sunny California, so the Razorbacks are having a bit of trouble keeping him within state borders without any state pride or deep rooted ties. Don’t get me wrong, Arkansas is very much in this race as they are for any Arkansas talent, but the door has been opened to Texas and Oklahoma who have taken full advantage. It’s now a three-way race for Wilkins, and the Longhorns are right in the middle of it. We feel Texas has made a big impression and is trending upwards fast, but if it were over today we feel he’d pick Oklahoma. We’ll all know when he commits on May 9th.
– 4-star OT Darius Thomas – Jonesboro (Jonesboro, AR) 6’6″ 310
Seems like more of a guard to me. Can be a little erratic in pass sets with hopping and jerky movements. Powerful player who seems better suited to play inside and be an athletic steamrolling jumbo guard. Hand game needs work. Tends to contact the defender with his chest. Will need to work on 3 pt contacting the defender with his face and two hands as at the college level, defenders will be better at getting unblocked. Is so much bigger than his competition that he tends to swallow them up and doesn’t have to be technically sound at the hs level. Really working on his punch, upper body strength and hip flexibility will be what he needs to focus on at he next level. Good overall player. Could play right tackle if needed. Still I believe he’s a jumbo interior player.
Another guy from “The Natural State,” but he’ll be a lot more difficult to pull out. Texas is trying to get Darius Thomas on campus after he was scheduled to come for Junior Days, but didn’t make it.