Why Can’t UTSA Recruit Offensive Linemen?
I started thinking of this post after Braden Lyons committed to FAU after appearing a UTSA lock, started drafting it after Elmendorff jumped ship back to UTEP, then found the motivation to finish it after Aaron Sowell skipped out on his UTSA visit to commit to SHSU. Also I was evidently beaten to the punch by Shafer by about two minutes, so read that right below as well.
It’s hard to deny that UTSA has been inherently awful at recruiting and retaining offensive line talent. Let’s take a little trip down memory lane:
2011: Robert Chapman left the team to walk on at TAMU, didn’t make it there. Ended up quitting football all together.
2011: Zach Crawford decommits from UTSA in favor of Texas State where he would see playing time as a freshman.
2012: Drew Phillips quits the team mysteriously. He started in 2011 and was anticipated to do so again in 2012.
2012: Mason Russell never shows up to camp. Speculated to have not qualified.
2012: Armando Alvarez fails to qualify, enrolls at Tarleton State.
2013: UTSA misses out on local talent Sterling Korona who committed to Duke.
2013: Braden Lyons briefly commits to UTSA, only to visit FAU the next weekend and give them a verbal commitment.
2013: UTSA swoops in to steal Derek Elmendorff from UTEP following their coaching change, only to have him flip back to UTEP a few weeks later.
2013: UTSA reaches out to Aaron Sowell with a scholarship offer and official visit. Sowell doesn’t show up for his visit and later commits to FCS SHSU.
So there’s eight guys that should have been or stayed Roadrunners in the last three years that chose to take other routes in life. The Roadrunners only three-star offensive lineman so far was Patrick Hoog who transferred home from Oklahoma State to be closer to his family. Following Hoog’s graduation, the Roadrunners don’t have a single three-star player on the offensive line. When you compare it to UTSA’s impressive recruiting successes at other positions it’s quite mind-boggling how one specific position can give the program such a hard time.
How can the program excel in recruiting so many positions (QB, DB, LB) and fail so awfully at just one? The answer is hard to find. Here are a couple theories that probably all have some type of minor contribution to the end problem.
- Coach Marshall seems to be relatively hands-off when it comes to recruiting. You know, I could be totally wrong on this since UTSA recruiting has been minimally covered before this year, but I have very, very rarely seen reports of Coach Marshall making in-house visits or traveling around to high schools to meet with coaches and meet kids. And hell, I don’t blame him. The dude has over four decades of coaching experience. He knows this is the worst part of the job. His seniority should opt him out of such grunt duty. And hell, Marshall is here to coach technique. That is what makes him an excellent coach and has provided him with a seemingly never-ending income of job offers throughout his career. The downside to Marshall being a lax recruiter is that he might not be establishing the personal connection that some recruits expect and are receiving from other coaching staffs. When a recruit is stuck between several schools, the relationship with his potential position coach is usually one of the more important factors.
- Age. Most position coaches in college football are younger dudes and that is something that a ton of recruits enjoy. The kids connect with them easier and are less intimidated. Remember that most 18 year olds are brats.
- Toughness. Marshall must be pretty damn demanding to draw so much out of undersized, unrecruited athletes. Marshall is a nice, charming fellow off the field but I imagine him being a hard ass on the gridiron. This approach has helped push tough kids like Nate Leonard and Josh Walker to their potential, but lesser men may fold and retreat when facing a stern challenge.
Again, the worst thing about this whole dilemma is that Coach Marshall is a terrific coach. If he wasn’t it would probably be pretty easy for Coker to go out and get a great line coach that could bring in better talent than what UTSA has been employing thus far. The problem is that Marshall is too good to let go, as his unit performs fairly admirably in-game. As we enter another season with UTSA fans praying for the health of a depth-less offensive line, answers look far from sight.
A UTSA alumnus that has been cast away to Austin, Jared enjoys live music and a craft beer. He thinks four verts is the best play in football but loves a QB sneak on fourth and inches. Twitter