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2020 Texas Longhorns Position Preview: Offensive Line

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Want to know the last time the Longhorns had an offensive lineman selected in the first round of the NFL Draft? If you guessed 2002, you are tonight’s lucky winner! Despite the lack of NFL Draft success, the Longhorns have not had a lack of talent at the position. In addition, there is a sense of optimism that the 2021 NFL Draft will break this dearth of success.

With that said, in 2020, one of Texas’s key strengths could come from the offensive line unit. The two sure starters, Samuel Cosmi and Derek Kerstetter, are among the best in college football. However, the remaining three spots on the offensive line are up for grabs. Previously, we previewed Texas’s running backs, wide receivers and tight ends. Today, we will preview the Longhorns’ offensive line.

 

2020 Offensive Line Options:

LT: Samuel Cosmi (Redshirt Junior)

2019 Stats: 13 starts.

Fittingly, we begin with Samuel Cosmi. Samuel is the offensive line’s leading NFL Draft candidate and can be frequently seen in mock drafts as a first round pick. Through two seasons of play, Cosmi has started in 26 out of 27 of his career appearances. Prior to the 2019 season, Cosmi moved from right to left tackle. Following the season, Cosmi earned second-team All-Big 12 honors.

Developing Cosmi into a first round draft pick has to be a main priority for Longhorns offensive line coach, Herb Hand. Recently, many of the nation’s top prospects on the offensive line have spurned Texas for “safer” destinations, which have proven to be more conducive for developing talent. Take, for instance, the Brockermeyer twins’ decision to go out of state to (commit to) play for Nick Saban. Furthermore, it is important that Cosmi helps the Longhorns by helping himself. He must prove that it is just a fallacy that the Longhorns cannot develop offensive line talent. As a result, Texas’s recruiting standing would greatly benefit.

 

LG: Junior Angilau (Redshirt Sophomore)

2019 Stats: 12 starts.

While Angilau is not guaranteed a starting job, he is the most likely to come out of fall camp with one. With a season of experience under his belt, Junior Angilau will look to become one of the leaders of the offensive line. However, Angilau will need to take another step forward in his progression in order to alleviate some pressure off of Texas’s two new starters on the offensive line. There is a chance that he will end up starting at right guard in 2020, however that will be something to keep an eye on in fall camp.

Junior has the potential to be one of Texas’s mainstays on the offensive line and was regarded as a four-star prospect coming out of high school. Which is something that even Samuel Cosmi and Derek Kerstetter cannot claim.

 

C: Derek Kerstetter (Senior)

2019 Stats: 13 starts.

https://twitter.com/PFF_College/status/1268165230363893766?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1268165230363893766%7Ctwgr%5E&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Flonghornswire.usatoday.com%2F2020%2F06%2F04%2Flonghorns-derek-kerstetter-ranked-the-top-power-five-pass-blocker%2F

With 28 career starts, Kerstetter is the most experienced Longhorn on the offensive line. In addition, Pro Football Focus gave Kerstetter their highest rated pass-blocking grade out of all of the returning offensive linemen in the power five conferences. In a year in which the Longhorns have legitimate reasons to make the College Football Playoff, it will be paramount that Kerstetter continues to be the leader of the group.

Similar to Samuel Cosmi, Kerstetter also has NFL Draft potential although he receives a fraction of the hype. If the Longhorns were to have two of their linemen drafted in 2021, their recruiting efforts would pay off tenfold.

 

Options to Start at Right Guard or Right Tackle:

Denzel Okafor (Redshirt Senior)

2019 Stats: Appeared in 13 games.

With five career starts for the Longhorns, Okafor is the most experienced player that is competing for the final two spots. Okafor has been active on special teams, however it is likely that he will be able to earn a job as a full-time starter on offense this season.

 

Christian Jones (Redshirt Sophomore)

2019 Stats: Appeared in 13 games.

Similar to Okafor, Jones was also a contributor on special teams in 2019. The 6’6″ offensive lineman, who weighs in at 310 pounds, will have to win a position battle during fall camp in order to be named as a starter.

 

Tope Imade (Redshirt Senior)

2019 Stats: Appeared in 3 games.

Imade is one of the few active Longhorns that remain from the Charlie Strong era. However, Imade has not been able to make his way into the starting rotation yet. In a year in which there has been plenty of uncertainty, it is quite possible that Tope will be able to make his way into the starting lineup.

 

Tyler Johnson (Redshirt Freshman)

2019: Redshirted

Even though Johnson burned a redshirt in 2019, he is a high upside player that was a four-star prospect coming out of high school. Despite his lack of experience at the college level, Tyler has a legitimate shot to at least be thrown into the rotation this year.

 

Isaiah Hookfin (Redshirt Freshman)

2019 Stats: Redshirted

Similar to Johnson, Hookfin was also a four-star prospect who decided to burn a redshirt last season. The 6’5″ offensive lineman will have the rest of fall camp to try to at least secure a spot as a backup.

 

Outlook:

The staples of this group are among the best in the country. Samuel Cosmi and Derek Kerstetter will have a lot to prove to NFL scouts. However, it will be just as important for them to try to teach the nuances of the game to their more inexperienced teammates. The lack of in-game experience might manifest itself onto the field for the first few games of the season, however this will be a promising group.

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