Why Is Texas Struggling To Recruit Offensive Lineman?


The University of Texas has not had an offensive lineman drafted since 2008 (Tony Hills). Ironically enough that is about the time when the program began its descent into a slump that it has not been able to get out of just yet.

Since then other in state programs such as Texas A&M, Baylor, and TCU have produced several NFL offensive lineman; A&M has produced three first round picks at offensive tackle (Luke Joeckel, Jake Matthews, Cedric Ogbuehi). This is a rather concerning trend if you are a Longhorn fan.

More from Texas Football

Not only is Texas struggling to produce NFL talent along the offensive line, but they are also struggling to land top tier talent at the position. The state of Texas is the home of the two of the elite offensive tackle recruits for the 2016 recruiting class in Greg Little of Allen and Patrick Hudson of Silsbee. Along with Little and Hudson you have one of the best interior lineman in the country in Chris Owens residing within the state’s borders.

While the recruiting cycle is far from over, these top tier prospects are all currently committed to other in state programs (Little-A&M, Hudson-Baylor) and an out of state power (Owens-Alabama). This is troubling for a number of reasons if you’re Texas.

For one, this has revealed that offensive line guru Joe Wickline is struggling on the recruiting trail. For a guy who fetched a pretty hefty price tag when being acquired from Oklahoma State and has a track record of being able to evaluate and develop talent, this is not what I was expecting to be the result. While I still expect Wickline to be able to squeeze talent out of his position group with the bodies he gets on campus, there is going to become a time when he has to prove that he is capable of landing elite talent.

What is even more concerning for me is that Wickline and Texas has now whiffed on second tier talent in guys like Riley and Austin Anderson. These were kids that the staff was able to get on campus, they had a solid ‘in’ with the family from Jeff Traylor’s time as a coach at Jacksonville before he was at Gilmer and they still ended up committing to A&M after it was all said and done.

More from Hook'em Headlines

So what is the issue? Is it Wickline’s abrasive personality, that has been frequently written about? Is it the fact that despite being good at evaluating and developing talent that Wickline’s resume for producing NFL offensive lineman is less than stellar recently? Is it a combination of the two? One thing is for sure, several offensive lineman have been shown the door since Wickline and Charlie Strong have arrived in Austin and all of them were highly rated recruits. With that being the case, Texas better find a way to replace that talent sooner rather than later.

Again, the recruiting cycle is far from over, but these are red flags in my book. When you are at a school like Texas, you should never be struggling to land talent at such an important position like offensive line. This is something that must be fixed if Texas plans on remedying its offensive struggles.

It is not secret that the foundation of good football teams is being very strong and talented in the trenches on both sides of the football. Having a good offensive line goes a long way as far as opening holes in the run game and providing good pass protection so that your quarterback has time to read the defense without having a ton of pressure in his face. For Texas, this imperative as they are in the middle of a quarterback competition with two young quarterbacks who are still in process of improving their ability to win from the pocket.

Whether it is Jerrod Heard or Tyrone Swoopes under center come the fall, their growth and ceiling will be limited if the offensive line does not drastically improve from where they were last year. By this time next year, we will know if Texas’ offensive line recruiting woes have been put to rest or not.