Raulerson leading candidate to take over for Espinosa
Texas fans should get to know the name Jake Raulerson. He is most likely the new starting center for the Longhorns – at least for next weekend.
Orangebloods.com is reporting that starting center Dominic Espinosa is out for the season with a broken ankle. Espinosa was injured in Saturday’s win over North Texas when a Mean Green defender rolled up the back of his leg as the center was blocking. He was helped off the field before being taken to the locker room for further evaluation.
Raulerson took over for Espinosa. The results were mixed. He missed a block that lead to David Ash taking a big hit. He was also involved in North Texas’ only score of the game when a fumbled exchange with Ash was recovered by a Mean Green defender for a touchdown.
Now it is Raulerson’s job to lose. But who is the new Texas center?
Raulerson is a former four-star recruit out of Celina, TX. He played tackle during his high school career before moving to center at Texas. MaxPreps listed him as the No. 5 offensive tackle in the country in 2012. Standing 6-foot-5, Raulerson is two inches taller than Espinosa. But at 281 pounds, Raulerson is a bit light. This could be a problem when he has to face defensive tackles and nose guards weighing over 300 pounds. In comparison, Espinosa weighs 308 pounds.
Most importantly, Texas will miss Espinosa’s experience. The Rimington Award candidate started 40 straight games. He made the line calls and assigned protection against blitzes. You can’t replace game experience. Espinosa was also a team leader during spring practice as the players and coaches worked to get acclimated with each other.
The silver lining is that Raulerson is an intelligent player. The redshirt freshman has been named to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll twice. You need a smart player calling out plays and blocking schemes, and Texas is fortunate to have such an understudy to Espinosa.
Joe Wickline spent spring and fall practices cross-training the linemen at different positions. This will probably continue next week as the coaches try to put the best personnel in the right positions. It’s conceivable that another lineman ends up the starting center, but in the short term the job belongs to Raulerson.
And just in time for BYU and UCLA.