Chat with Max Olson
Welcome to HornsNation! On Tuesday, writer Max Olson stops by to chat about everything Texas.
Olson joined ESPN in 2012 after covering the University of Nebraska for the Omaha World-Herald and high school and college sports for the World-Herald and Rivals.com. Olson is a University of Nebraska graduate and lives in Austin, Texas.
Send your questions now and join Olson Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Max Olson (4:01 PM)
Welcome to this week's HornsNation chat. Hit me up with all your football, recruiting and basketball questions today, there should be plenty to talk about. Let's get this started.
What kind of season do you think Texas would have had, if they had the offense of '12, and the defense of '11?
Max Olson (4:03 PM)
Good question. You could put it even simpler than that - what kind of season would Texas have with another year of Robinson and Acho at LB? They really proved to be the glue that Texas' defense was missing early on in 2012. Texas came very close to beating West Virginia and TCU this year. Maybe those two get them over the hump.
Eddie (San Antonio)
I think Laremy Tunsil never gets around to Austin. Is he being serious about giving Texas a look?
Max Olson (4:05 PM)
I don't blame you for being skeptical. Tunsil is the No. 1 lineman in the country and getting him away from Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss and Florida State is probably close to impossible. If Texas gets him on campus, that would be huge. But he's got to set a visit date first, and there's not much time left.
Why do the Horns keep recruiting O Lineman that get pushed around? Seems like they are good at pass blocking an that's about it
Max Olson (4:07 PM)
I think there's a chance you see a new-look Texas offensive line in 2013. The Longhorns are closing in on what should be one of the nation's top OL classes, and I think several guys could contribute right away. Beyond Waters and Hopkins, I don't think any guy's job is safe going into '13.
Eddie (San Antonio)
Is Mykkele Thompson going to replace Vaccaro as the starting safety next year? Will Byndom get drafted in the 2014 NFL draft?
Max Olson (4:10 PM)
Thompson will be in the mix, yes. It's going to be interesting to see if Texas tries out Quandre Diggs back there after having him work at safety in the bowl practices. Byndom needs a big year to ensure a strong draft spot, but he's definitely talented.
Frank (San Antonio )
It seemed a given that Diaz would be fired at the end of the season. Yet, i haven't heared anything about him leaving, resigning, quiting or getting fired. What does this mean? Is Manny coming back for another season?
Max Olson (4:11 PM)
All signs point to yes, Diaz will be back. After interviewing for the head job at FIU, Diaz came back and appears back for good.
Mike (Dallas, TX)
Since there are a lot of excellent senior QBs leaving the big 12 this year, where do you see the longhorns finishing in the big 12, considering they finally have an experienced QB returning themselves and a defense that should be more mature.
Max Olson (4:13 PM)
I think right now, on paper, Texas is the 2nd or 3rd best team in the Big 12 for 2013 along with Oklahoma State and TCU. A lot can change over this offseason, of course. But Texas has enough talent to make a run at a Big 12 title next season. A lot of the pieces are in place, I think, but they've got to go out and take it.
Max, Do you think Texas could lure Chip Kelly or Nick Saban to Austin when Mack leaves?
Max Olson (4:14 PM)
That would take a boatload of money - and a lot more - but Texas isn't hurting in that department. I think UT will go after the very best of the best when that day comes, yes. Texas is still a top 3 head coaching job.
UT fan in Minnesota! [via mobile]
how will applewhite handle the 3 back system next year? Gray the probable starter?
Max Olson (4:15 PM)
It's going to be on new RB coach Larry Porter to figure that out, though I'm sure that's a big factor for Applewhite as he designs his scheme. Gray goes into '13 as the probable starter, but all 3 backs will have a fair shot at that job.
Nick (Round Rock)
If you had to bet, would this upcoming season be Mack's last?
Max Olson (4:17 PM)
I'm not much of a better. I think it all depends on where the program is at the end of 2013. If they're in a BCS bowl, who knows. Does Mack stay to make one more run at a national championship? I know this: He's going to leave at a time when the program is in good shape.
How open is the QB competition with Nick Marshall possibly coming in and Major excited about Overstreet?
Max Olson (4:19 PM)
The big question of the spring. Overstreet and Connor Brewer have a chance to make a run at the job this spring, but what do they have to offer? Nick Marshall wouldn't come until the summer if he does sign with UT, so the spring is going to be critical for Ash. He's got to lock up the job for good then and leave no uncertainty.
Max, you obviously see how freaked out the UT fan base is about Mack and the state of program. From your view, are things better or worse than the fans think?
Max Olson (4:21 PM)
Better. That being said, 2013 is a telling year. This is the year Texas should be competing for a BCS bowl, no question. The cupboard of roster talent is pretty loaded now. These are very reasonable expectations, and Texas has to start playing above its expectations.
Even thought Ash had a strong second half in the Alamo Bowl, do you think Applewhite could shake things up and go with Jalen Overstreet? He's an electrifying player, who could be the spark the offense needs.
Max Olson (4:22 PM)
Depends on the offense Applewhite wants to run. If he's going to lean more on shotgun and even work in zone read, I think now is the time for Overstreet to make a run at the job. But just because he's fast doesn't mean he'll be given the job - he's got to earn it and legitimately beat out a guy with 1.5 years of starting experience. That won't be easy.
What are the chances Daje get a major role similar to DAT from Oregon?
Max Olson (4:23 PM)
Would love to see it. Daje is that type of an athlete when you give him a lane or open space, and he's only going to get better both as a receiver and a rusher. Applewhite needs to find ways to get him the ball.
Its been two seasons, and Steve Edmond still seems out of place and confused out there. Is his future at DE or will does he eventually "get it" at LB?
Max Olson (4:25 PM)
There were times early on this year when I thought Edmond ought to follow in Chris Whaley's footsteps and eventually become a thick speed rushing DT. But he did step up late in the year and the lightbulb did start to come on. I'd like to see Dalton Santos really push him for that MLB job this spring/summer. It would make both guys a lot better.
Hi Max, I have two questions today:1) any chance that Kennedy Estelle or any other O-line underclassmen can start next year? Continuity is important for an O-line development, sure. But there is no talent in that interior line and our top-rated underclassmen deserve to get some PT. 2) who is replacing Kenny V? I read Diggs from HN before but Diggs is 5'9, I am not sure if he can tackle RBs all season.
Max Olson (4:28 PM)
1) Estelle is going to get a shot. It's time to see what Sedrick Flowers and more of those underclassmen guards can do, too. There's some top-rated guys, like you said, but they haven't proved a thing yet. 2) There isn't a safety that can copy what Vaccaro did in 2012 with playing all over the field and near the line of scrimmage. I don't think Diggs gets asked to do all that. Thompson and Turner have to make big gains in the offseason.
Any commits will decommit before Signing day?
Max Olson (4:29 PM)
The No. 1 guy to keep an eye on, as we've said all along, is A'Shawn Robinson. He's visited USC and will visit Alabama, but still says he's very solid on Texas. We'll see. That could come down to signing day. It's going to be a very close race, in my opinion.
What does your gut say about Desmond Harrison?
Max Olson (4:31 PM)
My gut says he'll go with Texas. As I wrote about today on HornsNation, Mack and his coaches really won over Harrison's mom on their in-home visit, and the fact he grew up in the Houston area is definitely a factor. Arizona State is a factor and OU is to some degree, but I'm not sure how high a priority he is right now for USC.
It seems that the last two years it took the first half of the season for the defense to finally get it schematically and after that the defense was much better. Should we expect the same trend next year?
Max Olson (4:36 PM)
I think Manny Diaz will be very proactive when it comes to addressing that. You worry about overcoaching that a little in fall camp, but I think that will inform how he preps his defense in the fall.
James (San Antonio)
After the season A&M just had and the momentum they've built on the recruiting trail, is there any way Texas can get a better 2014 class than the aggies? Seems like the top DB's (Brown, Paris, Watkins, Adams) are all going elsewhere. Striking out on such an amazing year of DB recruits will be an absolute disgrace.
Max Olson (4:38 PM)
Texas won't strike out. I do like where they stand with Jamal Adams and Nick Watkins. They've probably got a better shot at Tony Brown than Ed Paris at this point. Things aren't looking grim just yet when it comes to those DBs, and junior days will be huge. Remember, there's still 13 months til those guys sign. Plenty of time for Texas to flip them if they do commit elsewhere.
Payton Schramm (Texas)
What is the current status of the Hicks & McCoy situation? The last update I have seen were the comments made by Hicks' attorney.
Max Olson (4:39 PM)
Carter Strickland checked in this week and there's still no update from San Antonio police on that situation.
Are the Aggies overloading this recruiting class. Hard to see all those WRs seeing the field. Is it disingenuous to offer kids they know won't get a chance to play?
Max Olson (4:40 PM)
Not if the kid believes he can play. I used to love how Pete Carroll could sign 3 RBs each year at USC and each guy believed he was the starter. You want to overtake on positions like that and let the competition play out. Those who don't play will transfer and have every right to. But there's nothing wrong with taking lots of guys.
Gary (The Woodlands)
Whats your gut tell you on Nick Marshall signing with Texas? Do you think he will do it, and if so then he has to be the automatic front-runner right?
Max Olson (4:42 PM)
Right now it's looking good for Texas. Indiana, KSU and Auburn are still very much in the mix, but the fact Mack did an in-home visit with him goes to show you he is a priority guy at this point for Texas. And no, he's not the front-runner. He's got an uphill climb as a guy who won't enroll early, no matter where he goes, but he's a special talent.
Name the next UT Head Football coach to follow Mack Brown.
Max Olson (4:43 PM)
Man, that's a tough call. I think TCU's Gary Patterson would be a great fit, but there's a lot of good ones who would no doubt take a phone call from DeLoss.
Jeff (Deer Park)
What's the net effect of A&M recruiting success on Texas so far? Have other schools in the Big12 lost more and maybe a net positive for Texas?
Max Olson (4:45 PM)
When you look at the list of Texas A&M commits for 2013, you can see there was not a gigantic impact on Texas. Ricky Seals-Jones is really the big one they lost to the Aggies. You'll see a bigger impact on 2014, no doubt. But you raise a good point - I think Oklahoma, TCU, Tech and Baylor have all been impacted in one way or another by A
Adam (Ann Arbor)
Who is an underrated recruit from this upcoming class who will surprise us and get on field early-even if thats a Santos like special teams impact which I argue was huge in gaining respect in locker room.
Max Olson (4:47 PM)
Great question. I think Deoundrei Davis is a guy who's gone under the radar but is playing at a position of need, and he gets the benefit of enrolling early. I also think Jacorey Warrick could be a real weapon from the get-go, but he'll have a lot of competition among the WRs.
Which offensive players will be drafted at the end of their careers?Also, it is fairly obvious that Okie St. has no use for JW Walsh, and it would not be wise not to transfer. Chances he comes to UT? Could start right away.
Max Olson (4:49 PM)
On Walsh, I don't see that happening because of Big 12 inter-conference transfer rules, especially since he's already used up a redshirt season. As for the draft picks, it's hard to tell right now since it's a still a very young unit. Lots of development left. A ton of guys have a shot.
How much is Green Bay going to lose by this weekend?
Max Olson (4:49 PM)
If they lose - and I'm not so sure they will - it'll be because of a Crosby missed field goal.
How good is RB Ke'uan Kinner? He is not rated by either Rivals or ESPN. Why is this?
Max Olson (4:50 PM)
Our scouts are evaluating his tape, I can assure you of that. Kinner is a workhorse and had a phenomenal senior season. I think he has a chance to be an impact player if he gets his grades right, though he might benefit greatly from a redshirt season too.
Nick (Pendleton, CA)
Why did James Clark cancel his visit?
Max Olson (4:52 PM)
Texas never offered and Clark just wasn't as interested in UT as he was with other schools. I think a visit would've changed that, but has to use up his official visits wisely because there's not much time left. Florida, Clemson, Nebraska and Northwestern are his final 4.
Will David Ash have even a chance to compete with the beast that is Jalen Overstreet?
Max Olson (4:52 PM)
Yes. David Ash is still the favorite entering spring. But it wouldn't surprise me if Jalen becomes a fan favorite, especially with a big spring game.
Is Kabongo certain to declare for the NBA after this season, or did his draft stock take too big of a hit? Any idea what he is thinking?
Max Olson (4:54 PM)
Good question. When the 1-year suspension was handed down, I thought there was no way he was coming back. Now that he will be back on the court, I'm still leaning that way but it'll all really depend on what he does with the games he does play and the draft evaluation he gets after the season.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Even though you Cover the Texas Longhorns in College Football, What is your Favorite NFL Team?
Max Olson (4:54 PM)
The Chargers, I guess. And the Eagles, to some extent. Now that I live in Texas, I pull more for the Texans than the Cowboys.
The starting Quarterback next year is?
Max Olson (4:55 PM)
David Ash. For now.
In general, did Texas overestimate its current standing in the world of college football this recruiting season? Did the flipping of Shiro from LSU give false confidence? It seems the staff waited too long to offer some players that may have been interested had they gotten attention early in the process - i.e. Robbie Rhodes, Torii Hunter, Maurice Smith, Matt Dimon, etc.
Max Olson (4:58 PM)
I can't speak to the effort Texas' coaching staff put into this class, and I don't necessarily think there's any false confidence. I do think Texas should've landed Maurice Smith and mismanaged that recruitment to some extent. I also think Daeshon Hall was the preference over Dimon and that was a decision made early on. But Rhodes wants to play in Baylor's offense and Hunter was not all that interested in what Texas had to offer, even after his official visit.
Why did Texas not recruit Mike Mitchell? He seems like a great athlete, and it would have been nice to have a headstart recruiting his brother for Rick Barnes!!
Max Olson (5:01 PM)
All along we were told Texas was going into the 2013 class wanting to take only one linebacker. Texas went with Deoundrei Davis. Naashon Hughes was a bonus. Mitchell is a great athlete and I think he's a really good fit for Ohio State, but he wasn't what Texas was looking for in the spring.
Hi Max, Enjoy the blog. How much do the Manziel and RGIII blunders annoy Mack and the program - since they are constantly mocked for them?
Max Olson (5:04 PM)
Good question. I really don't know. I'd imagine the coaches are right there with the fans -- they watch those guys and wonder what they could've done in burnt orange. But the state of Texas cranks out 20 QB prospects a year. Texas has to pick the one that best fits their offense, and has to do so before that kid plays his senior year. You have to make tough early decisions and stick with them. If Gilbert had panned out, this wouldn't be a problem.
Max Olson (5:05 PM)
I've got time for just a few more questions...
Jose A. (Spain)
UT has three big problems. 1) OL: They can't make holes for RBs and Qb protection isn't good enough. 2) Okafor and specially Vaccaro don't have a good back up and this could be a big problem. 3) LB corp is awful. Just Jinkens is good. Any solution Max?
Max Olson (5:09 PM)
A question from Spain. Awesome. Jose, I'd say this: The OL could be in for an overhaul this offseason, because I think the guys coming in could be really good. There's no recruiting solution for Okafor/Vaccaro - quite simply, Reed/Wilson and Turner/Thompson need to take their development to the next level. And as for the LBs, I actually think they have some guys with promise - Hicks, Jinkens, Tevin Jackson - and Edmond should be better. Depth is the real issue to me.
Some people are assuming Nick Marshall is actually just being recruited as a safety, what is your take?
Max Olson (5:10 PM)
Unless Texas' coaches have been lying to Marshall all along, he's being recruiting as a QB. No doubt about it. I get why folks assume that, but Marshall told me he's 100% being recruited as a QB
Which half of the bowl game will Applewhite's Offense most resemble in the upcoming season?
Max Olson (5:12 PM)
A little bit of both. Any time you have a new playcaller, there's going to be some growing pains. That's learning. Applewhite will call stuff that won't work and he'll learn to adjust. I'd like to see Texas commit to an up-tempo attack, but there will be times in 2013 when Texas starts slow like that.
Max Olson (5:13 PM)
That's all I've got for today. Thanks for your time and your great questions, guys. This next month will be crazy busy when it comes to recruiting news, so be sure to keep reading HornsNation for the latest news. Thanks again, and have a good day.