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. 94 Alex Norman
Sophomore defensive tackle
Recruitment rewind: The Texas Longhorns plucked Norman from the private-school ranks -- Dallas Bishop Dunne -- when he walked into his 2011 junior day visit, got his offer and committed immediately. Oklahoma and TCU showed interest, but no other school offered Norman, an ESPN 150 recruit who earned Under Armour All-America honors and ranked No. 7 at his position nationally.
Career so far: Norman redshirted in 2012. He was used sparingly during his redshirt freshman season, playing in six games and recording one tackle. Norman did earn Scout Team Player of the Week honors once in 2013, and in the spring he worked with the No. 2 defense.
Best-case scenario for 2014: Texas needs to get something out of Norman in his third year in the program, and ideally he could become an asset off the bench behind Malcom Brown and Desmond Jackson. If one of those two starters were to go down, a lot would get asked of Norman from a playing-time standpoint. The 6-foot-4, 292-pound lineman hasn't put it all together yet, but if he does, he could play a significant role to fortify depth up front.
Worst-case scenario for 2014: Norman is relegated to reserve duties again and makes more of an impact on the scout team than on a Big 12 field. If he can't rise to the occasion, the Longhorns only had five other scholarship DTs on the roster this spring. A true freshman like Poona Ford would face unfair pressure to be game-ready by the end of August if Norman can't prove he can handle the expectations.
Future expectations: Is it now-or-never time for Norman? That doesn't seem fair considering he's still just a sophomore, but still, this season is an important one for Norman's future with the program and his potential for stepping into a major role next year. Remember, if Brown goes pro, Norman would presumably be right in the mix to start in 2015. If he has a big season, he might even be in that mix to replace Jackson. There's real opportunity waiting for Norman if he can make serious progress soon.