Dallas Colleges: Alex Anderson

Editor's note: This is the fourth part of a weeklong series breaking down Texas’ most important spring position battles when the Longhorns begin practice in two weeks.

Moving on: It’s entirely possible no BCS program had a more experienced duo of offensive guards in 2013 than Texas. Mason Walters started 51 of his 52 career games at right guard. Trey Hopkins started 42 career games, 28 of them at left guard and 14 at right tackle, and twice earned All-Big 12 honors.

[+] EnlargeSedrick Flowers
Cooper Neill/Getty ImagesSedrick Flowers is the most experienced of Texas' guard options, having played every game in 2013.
The contenders: The guys ready to take over for those two longtime starters have a combined one career start among them. That one belongs to Sedrick Flowers, the most experienced of these interior lineman. He started at left guard in the Valero Alamo Bowl against Oregon.

Sophomore Curtis Riser earned limited playing time in 2014, as did junior Taylor Doyle. Touted recruits Darius James and Rami Hammad both redshirted as freshmen, and true freshman Alex Anderson enrolled early in January.

Moving forward: The Joe Wickline factor is strong with this group. Texas’ respected new offensive line coach says he’s simply looking to find the five best offensive linemen and piece together his lineup this spring, and he’ll bring fresh eyes and a new perspective when it comes to which of these guards can help this Texas line in 2014.

Flowers would seem to be the favorite to land a starting gig after playing in all 13 games last season. By the end of his sophomore year, Flowers was respected as a trusted backup by Walters and Hopkins, and both agreed he’d be worthy of taking their place this fall. But he’ll have to earn that spot, and the competition should be strong.

The rest of Texas’ guards have potential, but only two of them have even seen the field. Riser appeared in four games last season, and Doyle saw action in two contests.

The guys most fans will be watching this spring are James and Hammad. The former was one of the nation’s best offensive line recruits a year ago but took a redshirt because he was out of shape. That time off should help him better prepare for playing at this level. Hammad came close to earning a spot in the lineup in the middle of the 2013 season, but he went down with a season-ending injury and should be healthy this spring.

Anderson, a New Orleans native, arrived in Austin with a chip on his shoulder and should benefit from getting in early. He could be a sleeper challenger in this group.

Another possibility to keep in mind: Wickline likes to cross-train his offensive linemen at several positions, so he’ll likely try out several other Longhorns at the guard spots to see if he can find a fit. Don’t be surprised if someone like Kent Perkins, a sophomore, proves he can handle such a move and challenges for a spot this fall.

Prediction: I can tell you right now that Flowers and Hammad seem like the safest bets to win jobs, but a lot can change this spring. Wickline will try to instill a certain mentality with his offensive line this season: Your job is on the line every single week. Whoever the favorites are after spring, they’ll have to fight every day to keep their spots.

Big 12 early enrollee breakdown

March, 4, 2014
Mar 4
10:00
AM CT
Across the Big 12, teams are looking for instant impact from their recruiting classes. Several of those potential instant impact players have enrolled at their schools early, looking for a chance to play right away.

Below is a breakdown of all the Big 12 early enrollees, and their outlooks for the spring:

BAYLOR

Juco

OG Jarell Broxton: Could grab a starting role with All-American guard Cyril Richardson gone.

CB Chris Sanders: Was a favorite to start, but is out for the spring after shoulder surgery.

CB Tion Wright: Less highly-touted than Sanders, but has an opportunity with Sanders out.

LB Grant Campbell: With All-Big 12 LB Eddie Lackey gone, Bears hoping Campbell can fill a starting role alongside Bryce Hager.

High school

WR Davion Hall: Recruited as a receiver, Hall is a powerful athlete who gives Baylor another potential dynamic playmaker.

RB Terence Williams: A bruising runner destined to someday fill the role held last season by Glasco Martin.

TE Jordan Feuerbacher: Baylor lost tight ends Jordan Najvar and Jerod Monk off last season's team so there’s an opportunity for Feuerbacher.

IOWA STATE

Juco

LB Jordan Harris: Harris was the No. 5 juco ILB in the country, and will help ease the sting of losing All-Big 12 LB Jeremiah George.

S Devron Moore: The Cyclones graduated both Jacques Washington and Deon Broomfield so help is needed here.

DE Gabe Luna: Luna is one of three juco DEs the Cyclones signed, but the first to arrive on campus.

KANSAS

Juco

OG/C Keyon Haughton: Charlie Weis calls him “a bad muchacho,” and the Jayhawks will need him to play right away.

CB Ronnie Davis: The Jayhawks return starting cornerbacks Dexter McDonald and JaCorey Shepherd, but you can never have enough corners in the Big 12.

S Anthony Smithson: Adds depth and versatility to an already deep and experienced secondary.

KANSAS STATE

Juco

WR Andre Davis: All-Big 12 WR Tyler Lockett needs someone to emerge on the other side, and the No. 5-ranked juco WR has a great chance to do just that.

OT Luke Hayes: Could answer the call at a key spot vacated by departing All-Big 12 OT Cornelius Lucas.

CB Danzel McDaniel: One of the top juco corners in the country, McDaniel could lock up a starting role quickly.

Grayshirt

TE Dayton Valentine: Adds depth as a blocking tight end.

OL Bryce Fitzner: Will have time to fill out his 6-7 frame.

OKLAHOMA

Juco

TE Isaac Ijalana: The No. 1 juco TE in the country, Ijalana could help stabilize a position that has given the Sooners trouble the past couple seasons.

LB Devante Bond: Bond adds depth to what potentially could be one of the best linebacking corps in the country.

High school

QB Justice Hansen: Will be the third-team QB with Blake Bell moving to TE and Baker Mayfield ineligible until 2015.

FB Dimitri Flowers: The Sooners need a replacement for departing all-conference blocking fullback Trey Millard.

OKLAHOMA STATE

Juco

LB Devante Averette: The hard-hitting Averette has an opportunity to nail down a starting role this spring with All-Big LBs Caleb Lavey and Shaun Lewis gone.

WR Tyreek Hill: Hill is running track this spring and has already broken several records; he gives the Cowboys a speedy playmaker to help ease the early loss of Josh Stewart.

High school

QB Mason Rudolph: One of the highest-rated QBs ever to sign with the Cowboys, Rudolph will battle J.W. Walsh immediately for the starting job.

RB Devon Thomas: Thomas was the highest-rated running back from the state of Oklahoma, and adds depth to a position that could use some help.

TCU

Juco

S Kenny Iloka: Iloka has already impressed, and pads a deep and talented safety rotation at TCU.

OG Frank Kee: Will be asked to fill a starting job inside on the TCU offensive line.

TEXAS

Juco

TE Blake Whiteley: The nation’s No. 2 juco tight end, the Longhorns signed to fill a position that’s been inconsistent for them.

High school

OLB Andrew Beck: With Texas’ depth at LB, Beck most likely is a redshirt candidate.

OG Alex Anderson: Recruited by Joe Wickline when still at Oklahoma State, Anderson was a late addition to the class.

TEXAS TECH

Juco

S Josh Keys: The nation’s No. 5 juco safety, Keys could step into the spot vacated be departing veteran Tre’ Porter.

DT Keland McElrath: Has been dealing with a foot stress fracture, but the Red Raiders need help at DT with Kerry Hyder and Dartwan Bush gone.

WR Devin Lauderdale: Was a four-star player coming out of high school and will give QB Davis Webb another weapon on the inside.

WEST VIRGINIA

Juco

QB Skyler Howard: Has a chance to make a move on the QB competition, especially with Clint Trickett out for the spring.

S Keishawn Richardson: Opened up the spring as the second-string cornerback behind Daryl Worley, who started as a true freshman in 2013.

LB Edward Muldrow II: Currently backing up returning starter Isaiah Bruce as the Sam linebacker.

OT Sylvester Townes: The Mountaineers have two holes at tackle, giving Townes a chance to make an instant impact.

High school

DE Davonte James: The ESPN 300 signee brings speed to West Virginia’s D-end position.

WR Ricky Rogers: Rogers is a redshirt candidate with the entire West Virginia WR rotation back from last season.

Spring battle spotlight: Texas offensive line

February, 27, 2014
Feb 27
1:00
PM CT
Texas entered the 2013 season with one of the nation's most experienced offensive lines. That's no longer the case going into spring ball, though the Longhorns did add one of the nation's most respected offensive line coaches this offseason.

How's he going to put this group together? A look at the battle to replace four former starters:

Departed: Left guard Trey Hopkins (42 career starts), right guard Mason Walters (51) and left tackle Donald Hawkins (23) are graduating, and former starting right tackle Josh Cochran elected to end his playing career due to a recurring shoulder injury. The junior had started 23 of his 30 career games. Backup center Garrett Porter also graduates. Walters’ 51-game start streak tied for longest in the nation among lineman at the end of 2013.

Spring contenders: OT Kennedy Estelle, OT Desmond Harrison, OT Kent Perkins, OT Garrett Greenlea, OT Camrhon Hughes, OG Sedrick Flowers, OG Curtis Riser, OG Rami Hammad, OG Darius James, OG Taylor Doyle, OG Alex Anderson, C Dominic Espinosa, C Jake Raulerson

Summer contenders: C Terrell Cuney, OT Elijah Rodriguez

The skinny: Yep, that’s a crowded field. Lot of big bodies, not a lot of experience among them.

Espinosa is the elder statesman of the group, having started all 39 games of his career. He and Harrison are the only seniors of this group, and Harrison hasn’t played meaningful minutes yet.

We don’t know what many of these linemen are capable of entering spring ball because so few have seen the field, but the bar has been set high for the members of Texas’ 2013 signing class. Former Texas coach Mack Brown considered that group -- Harrison, Perkins, Hammad, James and Raulerson -- the best offensive line class he had ever signed.

Will new offensive line coach and OC Joe Wickline agree? He recruited several of his new pupils during his days at Oklahoma State, but he has no reason to stick to the plan laid out by the previous staff. If the younger linemen beat out the veterans, they’ll play.

The best of the bunch, at least based on 2013 performances, could be Estelle and Perkins. Estelle, a junior, started eight games in place of Cochran and had some promising moments. Perkins was too good to redshirt as a true freshman. Harrison is the wild card of the group and has been an enigma during his time in burnt orange.

As for the guards, Flowers had the full respect of Walters and Hopkins and is finally getting his chance. The highly-touted James redshirted as a freshman, as did Hammad. They’ll battle Riser this spring. Anderson, an early enrollee from New Orleans, could challenge them as well.

That’s how it looks on paper, but keep this in mind: Wickline isn’t afraid to move linemen around and cross-train them at other positions. That preparation paid off for several of his Cowboy linemen over the years. The way this group looks today could be very different come August.

Prediction: Expect movement and possibly a few surprises. It’s all up to Wickline and who makes an impression on him in spring ball. The safest bets to start are probably Espinosa, Estelle and Flowers. Don’t be surprised if James or Hammad win out for the other guard spot, and for Perkins to take a lead over Harrison exiting spring ball. These second-year linemen are legit.

Incoming impact countdown: Nos. 14-18

February, 18, 2014
Feb 18
9:00
AM CT
Now that they’ve signed their letters of intent, Texas’ incoming recruits can officially toss their stars in the trash. They don’t matter now.

While such ratings and rankings are helpful throughout the recruiting process, they mean nothing once a kid sets foot on campus and joins the program.

Gold starts won’t decide who gets to play as a freshman. Preparation, fit, need, raw talent, confidence, some good fortune -- a whole lot of real stuff matters now. Which members of Texas’ 2014 class have a chance to help out the Longhorns from day one?

This week we’re breaking down the Texas signees by their ability to make an early impact during their time on the 40 Acres, counting down from No. 23 to No. 1. Part one ran on Monday.

18. DT Chris Nelson
Lakeland (Fla.) Victory Christian | 6-foot-3, 280 pounds


2013: 100 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries

Before he chose the Longhorns, Nelson told local papers he could bring his “Florida swag” to Texas. How quickly he can do so will depend on what kind of shape he shows up in, and how hungry he is to get into the two-deep.

He was a much-needed final addition for this class, especially with the DT decommittments Texas suffered, and he knows there is plenty of opportunity awaiting him in his first season if he works hard to take it. Nelson brings plenty of confidence. Let’s see what he can do if the Longhorns need him early on.

Terrell Cuney
William Wilkerson/ESPNTerrell Cuney is already a mauler at center, but an established two-deep will likely allow him the ability to redshirt and get even stronger.
17. ATH Roderick Bernard
Houston Sharpstown | 5-10, 175


2013: 60 rushes, 594 rushing yards, 4 rushing TDs; 25 receptions, 364 receiving yards, 2 TDs, 2 kick return TDs

The obvious and probably lazy comparison Bernard will get in his first year is Daje Johnson considering his size, speed and versatility. His film suggests he’s a bit more like D.J. Monroe. You want this kid returning kicks and taking handoffs on sweeps, that’s for sure. Had he been able to enroll early as planned, we’d have a lot better sense of where he fits best.

Mack Brown always coveted home-run threats such as Bernard in recruiting, but how will the new staff put his talents to use? He’ll need to get stronger, but if he can prove to Les Koenning and the offensive coaches that he’s a weapon with the ball in his hands, he could see the field in 2014.

16. C Terrell Cuney
Jasper (Texas) | 6-3, 260


2013: 92% grade, 24 pancake blocks, 2 sacks allowed

The only reason Cuney, a four-star prospect and one of the nation’s best at his position, is this low on the list is simply because Texas is already two deep at center this season. Dominic Espinosa is a three-year starter and redshirt freshman Jake Raulerson appears to be the obvious choice to back him up.

If that means a redshirt for Cuney, that's not a bad thing at all. He’s capable of putting on more weight and developing into a long-term contributor as an interior lineman, and putting in that year to prepare for the college game will help. Still, Cuney is a mauler in the run game and he’s going to fight his way into the mix when he arrives in Austin.

15. OG Alex Anderson
New Orleans O. Perry Walker | 6-5, 310

2013: 80 pancake blocks

Enrolling early was the best possible thing Anderson could do for his development, even if it might not mean playing time this fall. Anderson was a Joe Wickline find in January, and it’ll be interesting to see where the new offensive line coach starts him off this spring after Anderson mostly played tackle as a senior.

If he does indeed work with the guards, he’ll get to challenge an inexperienced group led by Sedrick Flowers. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Anderson right in the mix with Rami Hammad, Darius James and the rest of the second-year guards if he plays his cards right this spring.

14. WR Dorian Leonard
Longview (Texas) | 6-4, 200

2013: 40 receptions, 763 receiving yards, 11 receiving TDs

Though there are questions about his speed, but Leonard’s combination of raw talent, size and tools make him a guy who I think can surprise folks in the next few years. He can go up and get it on jump balls, and the former basketball player is only going to get stronger as he grows into his frame. There’s plenty he has to refine, but don’t sleep on Leonard.

The problem is, Texas is stacked at receiver going forward, with five signees coming in and only one senior graduating. There could be position changes and departures, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Leonard takes a redshirt considering how many wideouts will be ahead of him when he arrives on campus.

Biggest flips: Big 12 

February, 3, 2014
Feb 3
10:30
AM CT
On Wednesday, many of the top stars of the 2014 recruiting class will transition from being college commits to college signees. Don’t be surprised if a last-minute flip or two occurs, as committed athletes will use these final hours to re-examine their choices and weigh them against new possibilities one last time.

Flipping is common in recruiting, and the Big 12 this year has had its share of players leaving for other conferences, as well as players choosing to play in the Big 12 after originally picking another conference. Here are five players who flipped to Big 12 programs and could have an impact on the college level sooner than later.

Three-star OG Anderson flips to Texas

January, 21, 2014
Jan 21
9:00
AM CT
Three-star offensive lineman Alex Anderson (New Orleans/O. Perry Walker) had a tough decision to make and no time to make it. Late Monday night, he knew, in his gut, that he was ready to choose.

Anderson backed out of his pledge to Arizona State and committed to Texas on Monday, becoming the 22nd member of new coach Charlie Strong’s class.

The 6-foot-3, 275-pound offensive guard will enroll early at Texas and said he’s hoping to be on campus for his first classes on Wednesday.

I'm coming in to play, and they dont have much depth and are in a predicament. I'll come in and be a high-impact player right off the bat.

-- OL Alex Anderson, after committing to Texas
The decision came after Anderson made back-to-back officials to Texas and ASU, a trip that began in Austin on Thursday and ended on Monday after two days at both schools.

What the decision came down to, he said, was family.

“I visited Arizona State, and the campus was outstanding. I really loved it and wanted to be there, but I had to see the reality of it,” Anderson said. “My family really couldn’t afford [visiting], and I didn’t feel too much at home. So that’s why I had to go in a different direction. I just really wanted to be close to home.”

Anderson had been committed to the Sun Devils since July but quietly reopened his recruitment recently, initially in the hopes of attending Oklahoma State. And then OSU offensive line coach Joe Wickline left to become the offensive coordinator and line coach at Texas.

While Anderson believed he was closing in on an offer from the previous Longhorn staff, the new one made it clear right away that he was a priority.

“When Coach Strong and Coach Wickline came in, they threw me an offer the first day they were there,” Anderson said.

Landing Anderson was crucial for a Texas class that has only one other lineman, four-star center Terrell Cuney (Jasper, Texas/Jasper).

Both of Texas’ starting offensive guards, Trey Hopkins and Mason Walters, are graduating. There’s opportunity to play right away, and Anderson likes his chances.

“I’m coming in to play, and they don’t have much depth and are in a predicament,” he said. “I’ll come in and be a high-impact player right off the bat.”

He never would’ve guessed a few weeks ago that he’d end up at Texas, that’s for sure. When Wickline joined the Longhorns, Anderson knew he had to reconsider things and take a visit. He likes Wickline’s intensity, and he was wowed by the impression Strong made during the official visit.

“He’s a disciplined coach,” Anderson said. “He’s not going to expect nothing but greatness from you. I like that. He wants you to be the best, and he’ll push you to be the best. That’s a program I want to be a part of. I feel like the old Texas is about to be back in effect.”

Anderson will be Texas’ third early enrollee in the 2014 class after tight end Blake Whiteley and linebacker Andrew Beck enrolled last week.

Texas coaches back on the road recruiting 

January, 16, 2014
Jan 16
1:00
PM CT
The dead period is over and it’s time to hit the road. Charlie Strong has his new coaching staff in place and is ready to get back to work on closing out Texas’ recruiting class.

The Longhorns currently have 21 committed prospects, though several are looking to take official visits elsewhere this month. There are big-time recruits still available. And don’t forget the new names who are sure to pop up on Texas’ radar in the next few weeks.

Here’s a rundown of where things stand and what names you should know entering the end of the dead period.

Solid commitments


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES