Rice trans­fer An­der­son should fill left tackle hole

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - SPORTS - By Mike Craven

Texas seem­ingly closed out its 2018 re­cruit­ing class in Fe­bru­ary on na­tional sign­ing day. The Longhorns signed the third-best class in the na­tion and the top class in the Big 12 dur­ing Tom Her­man’s first full cy­cle re­cruit­ing as coach.

But the Longhorns wanted another piece on the of­fen­sive line, and they added it Satur­day with Rice grad­u­ate trans­fer Calvin An­der­son.

Texas’ strug­gles on the line in 2017 were well-doc­u­mented. In­juries, trans­fers and a lack of over­all tal­ent pre­vented the of­fense from find­ing con­sis­tency. The Longhorns hoped to ad­dress those con­cerns in the 2018 class and did so by sign­ing five line­men, in­clud­ing ju­nior col­lege trans­fer Mikey Grandy.

The big­gest hole to fill was left by Con­nor Wil­liams, who left early for the NFL draft. The Longhorns needed an in­stant po­ten­tial starter to com­pete at left tackle, and An­der­son now be­comes the ob­vi­ous can­di­date to re­place the for­mer All-Amer­i­can. An­der­son chose the Longhorns over Auburn, Ok­la­homa and Michi­gan. He doesn’t tech­ni­cally count to­ward the 2018 class, but he might be the most im­por­tant in­di­vid­ual ad­di­tion to the pro­gram since Her­man’s ar­rival.

An­der­son signed with Rice in 2014 af­ter a high school ca­reer that be­gan at Ge­orge­town and ended at West­lake. That fa­mil­iar­ity with Austin was a de­cid­ing fac­tor for An­der­son, who was courted hard by West­lake grad­u­ate and cur­rent UT quar­ter­back Sam Eh­linger.

An­der­son is a quick-mov­ing tackle with a stel­lar record as a pass pro­tec­tor. He’s put on good weight since high school and never lost the ath­leti­cism that sep­a­rated him from other line­men. It would be a sur­prise if he’s not Texas’ start­ing left tackle in the sea­son opener against Mary­land.

Texas signed five tack­les in 2018 and hopes to sign at least four in the 2019 class. An­der­son is in a league of his own as a grad­u­ate trans­fer. He’s a one-year op­tion who al­lows Texas to de­velop the new young play­ers and build depth with the next class. The ad­di­tion of An­der­son prob­a­bly will al­low 2018 signees such as Reese Moore and Rafiti Ghir­mai a chance to red­shirt and truly de­velop be­fore com­pet­ing for a spot on the two-deep.

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