Texas Spring Football News: Pursuit Of Brandon Harris, Four OL Starters Identified & More

The Texas Longhorns started spring practice earlier this month, officially kicking off the Tom Herman era. With plenty of talented young players returning, this team is hoping to rebound from a disappointing 2016 season. Here is all the latest Texas news & rumors you need to know:

Four offensive line starters identified
Texas has solidified most of their offensive line starters with right tackle serving as the biggest competition, according to Bobby Burton of 247sports.

I was told that the Horns feel comfortable with four starting OLs. Williams, Shackelford, McMillon and Vahe. Vahe is the last of those four and is in "show me" mode compared to McMillon. Pat Hudson was specifically called out as waiting in the wings.

Right tackle is a work in progress. From what I'm told, it's likely neither Tristan Nickelson nor Brandon Hodges emerge from spring as the starter if things continue to go as they are now. I'm told Denzel Okafor is a possibility there eventually.

Matthew Merrick leaving program
Merrick was one of three quarterback on the Longhorns roster, but he announced on Wednesday that he is leaving the program to focus on his academics.

"I had a great talk with Coach [Tim] Beck, who was willing to help me with whatever I decided to do," Merrick said in a statement. "After discussing it with my family, I've decided to step away from football and focus on my academics at UT. If an opportunity in football were to present itself in the future, that;s something I would consider, but for now, I believe it's best to strengthen my academics as much as possible.

"I want to thank all of my teammates, the staff, Coach Beck and Coach [Tom] Herman for their support, and I appreciate all of my relationships I've built during my time with the team. I'll always consider myself a Longhorn and will be rooting them on in the future."

Merrick was a three-star quarterback in the class of 2015.

Texas' pursuit of Brandon Harris
Merrick's departure leaves the Longhorns with just two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, which is leading the Longhorns to pursue LSU transfer Brandon Harris, according to ESPN's Max Olson.

Herman confirmed Tuesday that Texas is exploring recruiting LSU graduate transfer Brandon Harris. The senior-to-be has said he’s focused on North Carolina and Texas. He wants to be a starter again in 2017, not somebody’s backup.

Whether Harris makes sense for Texas can be viewed a few different ways. Herman was asked directly on Tuesday about the long term: Isn’t it in Texas’ best interest to roll with Buechele or Ehlinger this season and develop a multi-year starter? Why stunt their growth?

Herman doesn’t look at it that way.

“We gotta win,” he said flatly. “Lost seven games three straight years around here. If a grad transfer is better than those two and can beat them out, then we'll worry about their growth next spring.”

Herman added that Buechele and Ehlinger understood the situation and the need for one more arm when approached about the grad-transfer possibility. No matter how much progress those two make this offseason, going into a season with only two scholarship QBs is just too risky.

Harris lost his starting job to Danny Etling after two starts, completing just 13/25 passes for 139 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. In 2015, he completed 53.8 percent of his passes for 2,165 yards with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions.

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