When you are building a successful football team, one of the golden rules is that you can never have enough big bodies in the trenches. When you look at successful programs such as Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State, they are all deep and talented on both sides of the line. When you go back and look at the Texas teams during the Mack Brown era when they were routinely putting 10 W’s in the win column, they had ass kickers in the trenches.
Under Charlie Strong, Texas went heavy on big bodies almost every year he was in Austin, and while it was a good start to restock the bare pantry, there are still plenty of holes to fill on the shelves. It has been mentioned and will be mentioned several times over going forward, but with junior offensive tackle Connor Williams likely to take his talents to the NFL after the 2017 season, finding a suitable replacement should be near the top of the priority list.
One of the first offensive tackle prospects to receive an offer this spring was Frisco Wakeland’s Rafiti Ghirmai, and he absolutely blew up not much longer after. The four star offensive tackle notched offers from notable programs such as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, and Michigan, and he holds almost 40 offers total.
Things at one point looked bleak with the talented offensive tackle as he had lusty eyes for some out of state programs, but as momentum began picking up for the Longhorns, Ghirmai’s attention shifted back to the in-state program and he decided to stay home and hop on board with Tom Herman and the Longhorns.
I have to give a hat tip to my man Mike Roach for sending over Ghirmai’s film early on in the spring before he became a priority for Texas, because I was able to see early on that this kid was severely under ranked and was likely to garner some serious attention at some point.
He checks the box for having ideal tackle size at 6’5, around 290 and he carries the weight well. Yancy McKnight should be able to trim off the baby fat and pack on some good weight to his frame without much issue. As a player, it’s easy to see why he blew up the way he did this spring and it’s not just because he’s a big kid with good upside. His testing numbers are far from mind blowing, but on film he moves around well, he can bend, he can fire off the ball with a low hat, and he shows he can be a people mover, which is a sign of functional strength.
He gets after guys as a run blocker and flashes the capability of being a bit of an asshole, which I absolutely have no problem with and he looks to finish guys off when he gets them on skates. If you’ve read my write ups on offensive lineman before, you know where I stand on guys finishing plays and their opponents. He does need to improve on not falling off blocks, but that’s something that can be improved on as his technique develops. Cut blocking is another thing I have written down that needs to be cleaned up for him, but again that’s coachable.
As a pass blocker, while he isn’t deficient at it right now, he is still a work in progress. One thing that stands out is that he has a tendency to bail early and turn his shoulders which will end up being problematic against good pass rushers. He also needs to be more consistent with his punch in pass pro, rather than simply just placing his hands on a defender. These are technical issues that can be ironed out with coaching and reps over time, but it will be something I will be looking for in his senior film.
Tom Herman and his staff keep checking off boxes on their wish list for this cycle. Missing out on Walker Little last cycle was a bummer, but they followed that up by quickly landing two early offer candidates in Ghirmai and Reese Moore. Both project to tackle and are high upside players that are quality takes in my book. Ghirmai is another example of Herman and his staff showing they are capable of going toe to toe with some of best programs in the nation to land a recruit, but at this point they don’t really need to convince anyone.
Ghirmai doesn’t possess the elite tools that Little had at the same stage and isn’t a plug and play type of player, but he is no slouch. Ghrimai in my opinion is the best tackle in the state this cycle (though it’s a down year) and he has the ability to be able to crack the two deep sooner rather than later after a red shirt year. It’s not out of the question to see him develop into an All-Conference caliber player if he continues to develop accordingly.
Herman is showing that they aren’t going to back down from anyone and are showing that they are making efforts to keep the state’s best players home despite having not coached game yet in Austin. If you are keeping score at home, Texas is now sitting comfortably inside the Top 5 in the recruiting rankings for this cycle, and they are far from being done.