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Talent Development Trench Warfare

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Just wanted to toss up a few links and such for your FRI afternoon happy hour discussion.

Lots of tweets and posts have gone around this week discussing all of this so I have decided to throw together one of my disjointed, haphazard efforts, mostly because Vasherized is too busy shopping for just the right seersucker suit to wear while he types up his Kentucky Derby preview.

Players. Talent. Prospects. Potential. Recruiting. Development. Work Ethic. Skill.

Scipio took a Socratic shot at Defining Talent.

Our friends at Black Heart Gold Pants had one of their minions put up a very interesting post about the best (and worst) college programs and conferences at developing recruits into NFL players.

Texas and OU are not exactly leading the pack and the Big XII as a conference is sucking wind. Go read that and enjoy the charts and graphs.

I came across this BHGP article after checking out Brian Cook's post: Unverified Voracity Overrates Texas Linemen

If you're interested in going to the NFL, avoid the Big 12 and head north.

Ouch.

We've long lamented the state of our running game, and discussed how it's not really the back that is the problem, per se (though it is nice to see us recruiting absolute studs at the position of late).

Whether it's the pass-heavy scheme, poor personnel choices, bad development in the S&C area, a combination of these things, etc. we simply have not been getting it done up front.

We need big, strong angry men using technique and leverage. HenryJames means something different when he says this.

So I checked out the NFL Draft Tracker on ESPN to get an idea how we've done putting the big guys into the league during Mack's time here.

Here is the Mack Brown era breakdown by position:

Guards: (3) Kasey Studdard ('07), Justin Blalock ('07), Derrick Dockery ('03)

Tackles: (4) or (3) or (2) Tony Hills ('08), Jonathan Scott ('06), Mike Williams ('02), Leonard Davis ('01)

Centers: (0)

If we are counting guys identified, recruited and developed, I think Texas "should" have more than five guys drafted in 12 years or whatever it is, right? I haven't looked at other schools but just eyeballing that number seems telling given the advantages with which we have to work.

I come to bury Caesar, and to praise him. Or something. I was reading a post over on Recruitocosm and Davey O'Brien (look for him on a new TCU blog) made the (hopefully prescient) remark that he thought our O Line was going to get better in a real hurry. Given the putative schematic and play calling advantages we're likely to see and the presence of new blood coaching the lads, perhaps he's on to something. I am curious to see how we do. I am also curious to see where we rank in a few years on the aforementioned metrics if we hold on to this staff for a bit and they are given free reign to select, recruit and develop who they want and put them in a power running scheme.

Lastly, the new blood teaching the lads up front, Stacey Searles, has left some fans nonplussed. I asked our friends over at LSU HQ And The Valley Shook what they thought of Coach Searels, who served as O Line coach on an LSU MNC team. Paul Crewe was kind enough to send me these thoughts:

If there was one defining characteristic I'd give of Searels, it'd be toughness. In many ways, Searels is just a good ole boy from Georgia, and a damn fine football coach. LSU fan opinions range on him... some love him, some think he was overrated. I'd fall towards the love side, seeing as how he continues to land big time gigs at prominent programs, including an expansion of his duties (Running Game Coordinator for UGA). Even if those were mere "titles" to justify pay bumps... he's still getting pay bumps... that says something. And his lines at Georgia were nothing to call home about... but I think that had more to do with injuries and talent (or lack thereof) than poor coaching. In a league like the SEC, where there is a premium placed on defensive line play, you simply can't sustain success with a rag tag group of walk-ons, much less the revolving door of starters he dealt with due to injuries. He maximized what he had to work with, and I'd say a pretty consistent trait is the ability to get guys to play over their heads.

Let's be clear, Texas has had woeful OL issues the past two years. Searels is being brought in to fix the issue... and now. Being an offensive minded coach himself, Mack knows what Searels brings to the table, particularly to a pro-style attack with a power run game. That's a game Searels can coach and teach. Considering there is no lack of talent at Texas, that won't be an issue. The issue has been the talent failing to attain it's potential. Searels won't stand for that. He's demanding and fiery. He's famous for shattering dry-erase boards on the sideline. In some ways he's like a more dignified Ed Orgeron. He's coached up the likes of Andrew Whitworth, Stephen Peterman and Rudy Niswanger and of the three, I can only recall Whitworth being an all world type of talent. All three are still in the NFL. Two others, Will Arnold and Ben Wilkerson, were NFL-type talents that saw their careers come to an end due to injuries.

Further, Searels is a superb recruiter with immense ties to the Southeast. I know Texas mostly recruits itself and largely fills up its class with all the premium athletes in-state, but Searels is a guy that can go into Alabama and Mississippi and pull a recruit. He'll be a huge asset on the recruiting trail.

In short, Texas got a good one.

Sounds good to me.

Blake Brockermeyer has podcasted with us, so he knows a little something about toughness too. We'll get him back on soon to discuss this.

I have to go buy some fajita meat. You all have an awesome weekend.