Longhorns trust ‘great humans’ to turn underperforming offensive line

So far, DeMarvion Overshown has managed to avoid the scramble in preseason practice.

The Texas linebacker really wants to keep the streak — and himself — alive. The huge offensive line, particularly seven elite freshman rookies, has caught the attention of Overshown and just about everyone in practice so far.

“They’re big,” Overshown said. “I’m pretty fast. I tell them every day if you’re gonna pick me up, you better move fast. Every time I see them I can tell these guys are going to be the real deal.

The seven freshmen are the end result of coach Steve Sarkisian’s mission to fill his roster with what he calls “great humans.” The move was made with an eye on an imminent move to the physical SEC by 2025. A searing loss last season to Arkansas, where the Razorbacks dominated up front, served as a not-so-subtle reminder of what who awaits us.

“Knowing the league we’re from,” said offensive line coach Kyle Flood, a former Alabama assistant with Sarkisian, “you better have a certain height level in that league to be able to compete.”

Of course, the big guys can help in the Big 12 too, with Texas having a disappointing 5-7 debut for Sarkisian. And since 2008, the Longhorns have seen only two linemen taken in the draft.

The result was two 247Sports-rated five-star recruits in Arlington Bowie’s Devon Campbell and Humble Summer Creek’s Kelvin Banks, plus four four-star signers.

It’s not just the rewards: it’s the mass. The seven together weigh 2,265 pounds (average: 323 pounds). And they haven’t stopped growing. Consider the “great humans” mission accomplished, at least to begin with.

It’s the starting point, not the end point, Flood said.

“The expression that I like great humans is true. It is,” Flood said. “But I tell all of these players when we recruit them, we never sacrifice athletic ability for sheer size.

“We are not just looking for the greatest players. That’s not what we do. There’s a level of athleticism that these guys have in conjunction with their size, which ultimately makes them special and gives them the opportunity to really progress through our system.

It’s not that Texas doesn’t have a big, experienced offensive lineman like seniors Christian Jones and Junior Angilau and sophomore center Jake Majors.

But it’s the freshman class and the promise it brings that has caught the eye. No one knows how many freshmen will start or be in the player rotation. Conventional wisdom says the offensive line is a place for grown men, as coaches like to say.

And only one of the freshmen – Cole Hutson from Frisco – signed up early and attended spring training.

New NCAA rules have allowed Sarkisian and his coaches to work more with players this summer. Does that translate to being ready for standout linebacker Will Anderson and Alabama’s dominating front seven on Sept. 10? Nobody knows.

“I really want to give him an honest and fair assessment,” Flood said.

Already, freshmen are giving notice that they are serious. During practices, star running back Bijan Robinson decided to joke around with Banks while he was weightlifting. “Hey, Kelvin, are you working? said Robinson.

The glare in response caught Robinson’s attention.

“He brings that presence. He brings that dominance,” Robinson said.

Banks are not alone. Robinson, who is 6 feet tall, says he can see over the offensive line – barely.

For Robinson, who rushed for 1,127 yards and 11 touchdowns in 10 games last season, and other skillful players, the idea is that a bigger offensive line translates into bigger holes up front. .

“They take up a lot of space. Just having them here now, I really like that,” Robinson said. “What I see behind them is quite incredible.”

Twitter: @ChuckCarltonDMN

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