Strong’s longevity could hinge on final months of recruiting up front

Texas coach Charlie Strong knows more celebrations like this season's victory over Oklahoma depend on a big 2016 recruiting class.
USA TODAY Sports

Texas assistant coach Jay Norvell this week tweeted out this fact: "Texas was the only offense in the country to start 2 true freshman from day one."

Both players were offensive linemen — Connor Williams and Patrick Vahe.

That fact cuts both ways. That two true freshmen were pressed into starting roles didn’t say much for the quality of depth along the Longhorns’ offensive line. That both excelled and were named to freshmen All-America teams says something about the quality of players coach Charlie Strong recruited.

It also suggests that Strong’s job is just beginning in the trenches, and he knows it as he looks to build both the offensive and defensive lines in the final couple of months leading up to Signing Day 2016.

"Well, you always think about recruiting, and you want to make sure that you get all the pieces in recruiting," Strong said earlier this month. "And if you look at us, you started two freshmen offensive linemen. We need to get that position — that’s a position where you always recruit the big guys for our offensive and defensive line. We’ve got to get us more big guys at those two positions."

Texas currently has pledges from two offensive linemen and three defensive linemen for the 2016 class. There’s also a number of targets that have committed to other schools, and others still deciding.

Bringing in the right talent up front is paramount to Strong’s tenuous longevity at Texas. Year 3 is going to be critical. He’s already tossed out his former offensive coordinators, Shawn Watson and Joe Wickline, for youngbloods Sterlin Gilbert and Matt Mattox. They will implement a spread attack similar to that of Baylor’s offense under Art Briles.

For Strong to change the course of Texas football, this recruiting class is going to be the key. He knows he’s already missed on key targets. He also knows a big finish that allows him to fortify both lines could be the boon the program needs.

"Skill guys, you’ll be able to find them, but we need some more guys there (offensive and defensive lines)," Strong said. "And I think that once we continue to build those two positions, then we’ll be in place and get to where we need to get to."

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