Texas Football 2011 Preseason Position By Position: Defensive Tackle

Last year I was somewhat concerned when several of our freshmen arrived pursued by Inuit in sealskin kayaks.

Let’s talk DTs. Defensive tackle. Not delirium tremens. Though the uncertainties here may drive you to drink.

What happens when really bad historical luck collides with bottomless pasta at Olive Garden, freak injury, and a S&C program previously conducted by post-it note authored by Bookman from Good Times?

Ain’t we lucky we got ‘em? Gooooooood tiiiiiiimes....

Kheeston Randall
Calvin Howell
Ashton Dorsey
Taylor Bible
De’Aries Cotton
Desmond Jackson

TGFKR. Thank God For Kheeston Randall. Randall was really good last year until his last couple of games when he stopped fighting the undertow of our collective suck. Kheeston has great strength, plays with excellent pad level given his height (a legit 6-5, 295), and he moves well laterally. Watch his initial contact with opposing OL - he rocks back their head violently, gets his hands on inside cloth, and then controls his gap while keeping his eyes up and his ass down. Textbook.

He’s not a gifted gap pass rusher, but he can collapse a pocket and create a flush.

I expect him to make opposing interior lines look like Kheeston Cops.

Kheeston Cops!!!!! That’s why I get paid the big bucks.

After Randall, the water is as murky as a port-a-potty tank after a chili cook-off.

Sophomore Calvin Howell (6-3, 290) appears to be the most likely candidate to flank Randall, but I’m not so sure. He has chronic head injury issues and, when healthy, it’s not clear what he consistently offers. What’s his defining characteristic? Strength? Quickness? Power? Technique? Effort? Right. Exactly. I don’t know either. We’re going to find out.

Redshirt freshman Taylor Bible had apparently taken to heart his divine surname’s imperative to be fruitful and multiply ...himself...and reported last year at a tragic 340+. Not good on Dwight Howard's frame, much less a squatty 6-1. Now we’re trying to introduce some dietary agnosticism. Bible has the most dominating high school junior year film I’ve ever seen from a DT and he has as much potential as any player on our roster, but injury and Carl’s Jr betrayed him.

Give me a 6-1, 290 pound Taylor Bible in-shape, focused, motivated, and I’ll give you 18 tfl, 6 sacks and a perfect pairing to Randall. He’s not there yet - it’s not just about weight loss, it’s also about weight redistribution. Recent reports I’m getting from People Who Know Things are really encouraging, but a 60-70 pound weight redistribution takes time.

Quick aside: Russell Maryland came to the U as a fat (335 as a high school senior), out-of-shape bum with ballerina feet and an incendiary inner drive to make himself into a player. I’m not using hyperbole when I say Bible has innate talent in that range. Unfortunately, lose the drive and the downside is Sonny Davis style tragedy. It’s all up to Taylor. Eat fast food or sprint stairs? Another set of bench press or power cleans and plyo? It's a multi-million dollar decision, Taylor.

Sophomore Ashton Dorsey has good quickness in a low base (6-2 285), but he was too young to hang inside with the big boys. All size isn’t created equally - it’s about man strength. He’s a very probable starter if Calvin Howell doesn’t pan. I think he has the capacity to be a legit contributor and I like how he uses his hands and his natural pad level.

De’Aries Cotton (6-4, 300) gave me my best the-media-just-makes-shit-up moment last year when a leading light opined that Cotton had been the most impressive young DL he’d seen during open practice. Aside from Cotton hitching a ride on the grocery basket of Bible’s Hoveround, I didn’t quite see it. Cotton has some athletic ability and could be a future run stopper and the literary part of my soul badly needs for Texas to start tackles named Bible and Cotton, but I have a sneaking suspicion that we may be housing a very athletic starting OG at 2nd or 3rd team DT.

RS freshman Greg Daniels is a smart guy with Cory Redding’s body. The problem is that Cory Redding didn’t grow into a DT body until he was 23 years old. Before that, he had stops at LB and DE. Daniels is currently at the DE stop (6-5, 270), but the train to DT requires 25 more pounds and sixpence. Fortunately, Greg graduated from St. Pius and speaks with an English accent. Give him time. He’s a project worth the undertaking.

True freshman Desmond Jackson is a stud. I really like Desmond. That's Mr Jackson, if you're nasty. He’s in-shape, motivated, with a motor. This is what Taylor Bible should have been, though Jackson is not the same pure talent. He’s also undersized (6-1, 280) and he’ll need every bit of that motor to compensate by winning with quickness, energy, and a good get-off. At times, his immaturity and size means he’ll be swallowed up and deposited ten yards downfield on his ass. He’s going to jump several players on the depth chart this summer and demand snaps. Bank on it. Classic gap DT.

Summary

Bo Davis and Bennie Wylie will have to earn their pay because the best teams in this league can all run the football. Like the DE position, we have one experienced player and a lot of youth. The ideal pairing to Randall’s run-stopping and power would be a quick, squatty gap-taker who can disrupt. That description best fits Bible and Jackson, but both have their obvious handicaps.

Randall’s health is worth two wins on our season total.

We can get away with one JAG on the DL if we get great play at the other three spots, but I’m a Longhorn and greed is inherent to my nature. I want Hampton and Rogers. Patton and Jeter. The Captain and Tenille...

Despite my colorful write-up, much of the fretting over our DTs is now in the realm of overstatement. A healthy Randall paired with two emerging talents will give us a quality DL.

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