Before Texas begins its first season under Charlie Strong, we're taking a deep dive into all the talent he inherits in 2014. Our Burnt Orange Breakdown series takes a closer look at each scholarship player returning this fall and what we can expect from him. We're going down the roster from No. 1 Shiro Davis all the way to No. 99 Desmond Jackson.
No. 55 Dominic Espinosa
Recruitment rewind: A local kid from Cedar Park, Texas, Espinosa was a four-star recruit and ESPN's No. 3 center prospect in the class of 2010. He had early offers from the likes of LSU, Texas A&M, Tennessee and Stanford, but when Mack Brown extended an offer at a February junior day, he committed on the spot. Espinosa moved from tackle to center before his senior year at Cedar Park and notched 179 knockdown blocks on the year.
Career so far: Espinosa redshirted in 2010, then surprised many by winning the starting center job in fall camp as a redshirt freshman. He's been in the starting lineup ever since and enters his senior season with 39 career starts. No player in the 2014 roster has started more games. Espinosa earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors from the league's coaches as a junior.
Best-case scenario for 2014: There are a ton of question marks with this Texas offensive line entering 2014. Espinosa isn't one of them. He'll hold down his job for 13 more games and, thanks to new offensive line coach Joe Wickline's tutelage, should become a more consistently dominant blocker. He's a sharp player, a good leader, and he's going to get better.
Worst-case scenario for 2014: At this point, unless something changes dramatically, it's hard to picture another player beating Espinosa out for the center job. Jake Raulerson and Terrell Cuney are good, young players. Darius James is also capable of playing some center. They'll get their chance down the road. Wickline could try other players out at center if he thinks he needs to make a change, but entering fall camp, there's no reason to expect that. Only an injury or truly poor play is going to get Espinosa bumped from the lineup.
Future expectations: Could Espinosa develop into an All-Big 12 lineman this fall? There are a few good centers in this league -- Kansas State's BJ Finney, TCU's Joey Hunt and Iowa State's Tom Farniok stand out -- and Espinosa probably isn't on their level just yet. He still has plenty to prove if he hopes to compete for a spot in the pros, but Espinosa has the benefit of a year with arguably the nation's best offensive line coach and has all that experience. We haven't seen his best ball yet.