Who to watch in spring: Desmond Harrison

Editor's note: This is the third part of a weeklong series taking a closer look at Texas players worth watching when the Longhorns begin spring practices in three weeks.

Believe it or not, few people believed in offensive tackle Desmond Harrison more than Mack Brown.

The junior college transfer did not achieve much in his debut season, yet Brown was steadfast in his belief that one day Harrison would put it all together and reach his potential. And that potential, he believed, included becoming a first-rounder in the NFL draft.

High praise, sure, but Harrison did nothing in 2013 to prove he deserved it. There were just too many setbacks.

He didn’t arrive early in the spring, instead joining the program in mid-July (and even that was a close call). A couple weeks later, he took the field for his first fall practice.

Then came the ordeal of his transfer credit from BYU that sidelined Harrison until Aug. 20. He was eased back into practice, but by then it was too late to get him ready for a serious role in the season opener. Texas stuck with Donald Hawkins at left tackle, who played well, while Harrison settled for occasional mop-up duty. An ankle injury slowed him during the season.

All in all, it was a rough and challenging first season in the program. The good news is Harrison has another year and another chance to figure out how to dominate in the Big 12.

The expectations for Harrison shouldn’t change. The 6-foot-8, 310-pound lineman needs to go out and earn the starting left tackle job. Texas has two very promising tackle prospects in Kennedy Estelle and Kent Perkins who are fully capable of making Harrison a backup once again if he doesn’t get better.

The X-factor here, of course, is Joe Wickline. The offensive coordinator and line coach worked wonders with all sorts of lineman in his days at Oklahoma State. For all we know, Harrison could have as much raw talent as the best guys Wickline has coached up. But it takes more than size -- it takes full buy-in, the right mentality and a lot of hard work.

If Harrison can get the job done in those areas, he can be special. A Texas offensive line that’s losing three starters needs just that.