May 22, 2007

5 that need to step up

The fall is approaching and the Texas Longhorns have about three months left to begin the process of finding some answers at several key areas of need heading into the 2007 season. takes a look at five players that the Longhorns need to step up the most in the coming months.

5. Adam Ulatoski - Starting right tackle

Why Ulatoski?

As a redshirt freshman last season, Ulatoski was pressed into action as a full-time starter when Cedric Dockery was lost for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Although Ulatoski played fairly well at times, especially in pass protection, the Longhorns need Ulatoski to take his play to another level in an effort to stabilize a unit that is a major question mark heading into the season. Nobody in the program seems to doubt that Ulatoski is going to be a great player in due time, but the Longhorns could really use an accelerated development.

What needs to happen?

It's amazing to think that Ulatoski was able to contribute in such a strong way in his redshirt freshman season because he's been a guy that's had some limitations because of a back injury that plagued him before his arrival at Texas. After not being able to lift weights for a considerable amount of time, Ulatoski is behind the curve in his strength development, which has been a factor in his ability to thrive in his play at the point of attack. Ulatoski was improved this spring, but he still has a lot of room for development. The third year is supposed to be a major bench mark for linemen in the Texas program, so this is the time when the staff would like to see Ulatoski really emerge.

If not him, then what happens?

There's really not anyone else that the Longhorns can turn to if Ulatoski doesn't make the needed improvement. Second-year sophomore J'Marcus Webb is a player that the Longhorns would like to use in a three-tackle rotation, but he isn't much different from Ulatoski in his need to improve his strength. In order for Texas to be a real threat on the national scene this season, the line has to improve and one of those pieces to the puzzle is the former Southlake Carroll star.

4. Sergio Kindle - Possible starting outside linebacker

Why Kindle?

The Longhorns have lacked any semblance of playmakers at the linebacker position since Derrick Johnson left following the 2004 season and Kindle is their best hope when it comes to projecting possible game-changers at the position. Since Kindle arrived in January of 2006, he's flashed his potential in front of coaches and teammates, but he's yet to put all of the pieces together in a way that will allow him to move ahead of older, more experienced linebackers ahead of him on the depth chart. When he's able to make that move, the Longhorns might finally have someone that can make a big play or two at the position.

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