4-star de­fen­sive tackle picks UT

West­field’s Coburn gives Longhorns 16 pledges for 2018.

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Mike Craven mcraven@states­man.com

Tom Her­man hasn’t needed a sin­gle snap as Texas’ head coach to breathe new life into the pro­gram.

The Longhorns’ 2018 re­cruit­ing class — ranked No. 3 in the coun­try be­hind only Ohio State and Mi­ami — in­creased to 16 play­ers when Keon­dre Coburn, a four-star de­fen­sive tackle from Spring West­field and the No. 11-ranked player on the Amer­i­can-States­man’s Fab­u­lous 55, an­nounced his com­mit­ment on Twit­ter.

He’s the lone de­fen­sive line­man who has com­mit­ted to Texas for 2018.

Coburn, who at 6 feet 1 and 329 pounds sports a sim­i­lar build to Texas de­fen­sive tackle Poona Ford, is ranked No. 103 na­tion­ally and No. 8 among de­fen­sive tack­les, per 247Sports’ com­pos­ite rat­ings. He’s one of only a hand­ful of line­men in the state who war­rant a four-star rat­ing for the 2018 class. It’s a down year for big men.

His pledge will re­unite him at Texas with Corby Meekins, the Longhorns’ tight ends coach, who was the head coach at West­field when Coburn was a fresh­man in 2014. Meekins’ brother, Matt, is didn’t let it af­fect him. No one wanted him to break that record, but he did it the right way.”

Bay­lor blazed a trail of his own by be­com­ing the sixth African-Amer­i­can to man­age a ma­jor league club. He was the first man­ager of the Colorado Rock­ies and had them in the post­sea­son in his third sea­son, earn­ing Na­tional League man­ager of the year hon­ors.

A new gen­er­a­tion of play­ers was so for­tu­nate to be around peo­ple like “Groove,” who pro­vided a great ex­am­ple of pro­fes­sion­al­ism in the dugout and the club­house while prac­tic­ing plain old hu­man de­cency dur­ing nearly 50 years in pro ball.

“He al­ways gave me con­fi­dence af­ter a rough one,” tweeted Street, who played for Bay­lor in Colorado. “Al­ways ready to laugh, a great coach, a great friend.” And a great loss. Hous­ton Cougars head coach Ma­jor Ap­ple­white is em­brac­ing the pres­sure that comes with high ex­pec­ta­tions cre­ated as a mem­ber of Tom Her­man’s staff that went 22-4 over two sea­sons, in­clud­ing wins over Florida State in the 2015 Peach Bowl and Ok­la­homa in last year’s sea­son opener.

When Her­man took the job at Texas, Ap­ple­white was pro­moted from of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor to the big of­fice. At 39, he’s the sec­ond-youngest head coach of an FBS school in Texas. Just as he was as a player, Ap­ple­white is con­fi­dent en­ter­ing the big­gest sea­son of his coach­ing ca­reer.

Pres­sure? Bring it on, says the Ma­jor.

“That’s just the way it’s been,” he told Kirk Bohls and yours truly on this week’s “On Sec­ond Thought” pod­cast. “Our high school ex­pected us Coburn’s new head coach. The Longhorns signed West­field run­ning back Daniel Young this year.

How does Coburn fit in at Texas?

It’s hard to ex­pect young de­fen­sive line­men to make an im­me­di­ate im­pact as true fresh­men. The sheer size and strength of of­fen­sive line­men are com­pletely dif­fer­ent, and most young play­ers on both sides of the line usu­ally need a red­shirt sea­son and time in the weight room be­fore they start earn­ing snaps.

That might hold true for Coburn, but don’t count out the four-star prospect from get­ting play­ing time in 2018; Ford will be ex­it­ing the pro­gram, and the Longhorns don’t have many play­ers of Coburn’s size on the ros­ter.

Texas’ switch to an odd-man front makes pre­dict­ing the de­fen­sive line a tough chore. The Longhorns ex­tended schol­ar­ship of­fers to seven de­fen­sive tack­les for the class de­spite know­ing that Coburn prob­a­bly was head­ing to Austin.

That means Texas wouldn’t mind ad­ding at least one more de­fen­sive tackle be­fore sign­ing day. The lead­ing can­di­dates for those are Bobby Brown of Ar­ling­ton La­mar and Is­rael An­twine, a four-star prospect from Mill­wood, Okla. to win dis­trict every year. Texas ex­pected us to win or 10 or 11 every year. That’s your life. You would rather be in those com­mu­ni­ties than the ones that throw pa­rades to go 6-6.”

The Cougars start the sea­son with road games against UTSA and Ari­zona.

Re­ally en­joyed Jerry Jones’ Hall of Fame ac­cep­tance speech and was es­pe­cially warmed to hear him throw out some ac­co­lades to former head coach Jimmy John­son.

“You were a great team­mate; you were a great part­ner,” he said to John­son, who was there. “To the con­trary of pop­u­lar be­lief, we worked so well to­gether for five years and re­stored the Cow­boys’ cred­i­bil­ity with our fans.”

Jerry is a modern-day Jed Clam­pett, but un­like my fa­vorite Bev­erly Hill­billy, he didn’t al­ways show hu­mil­ity, as he was some­times hes­i­tant to give John­son credit for his role in con­struct­ing the NFL’s team of the 1990s. That changed over the week­end as he ac­tu­ally so­licited sup­port for John­son and his suc­ces­sor, Barry Switzer, to be voted into the Hall.

If he can throw his weight be­hind Jimmy and Barry be­ing in­ducted into the Hall of Fame one day, then surely he can show us that the bad feel­ings are set aside for­ever by ad­ding John­son — the fran­chise’s most suc­cess­ful coach be­hind Tom Landry — to the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s Ring of Honor.

It’s a no-brainer. John­son won two Su­per Bowls and put to­gether a team that al­lowed Switzer to win an­other in his place. If the beef re­ally is over, then Jerry will make good and give Jimmy some of­fi­cial props.

MIKE CRAVEN / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

Spring West­field de­fen­sive tackle Keon­dre Coburn, 6-1 and 329 pounds, will be among the big­gest Longhorns at that po­si­tion.

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