Charlie Tanner: The governor of the line
Oct. 19, 2008
Jonathan Mann, Texas Media Relations
On a Texas offensive line loaded with talented players, junior left guard Charlie Tanner may be the most vocal of them all.
"The Governor," as his fellow linemen refer to him, has a penchant for making his presence known.
"He's never met a stranger," said junior left tackle Adam Ulatoski. "He's personable. He just loves talking to people."
One can hardly blame him for his excitement. Tanner was born and raised in Austin, and grew up a fan of the Longhorns.
"I remember getting recruited, I was just waiting and hoping for Texas," Tanner recalled of his high school recruiting experience. "I was keeping my options open, but once they offered, that was the most exciting day. Being able to play for the team I grew up watching is a dream come true."
Tanner now has 11 career starts for the Longhorns, despite an ankle injury that forced him to miss time early this season. In Saturday's 56-31 victory over No. 11 Missouri, Tanner earned Co-Boss Hog Award honors along with Ulatoski, an accolade bestowed upon the week's best performer on the offensive line.
"Charlie was a guy that came in with a lot of potential," McWhorter said. "He had really good athleticism and a great work ethic. Now he's 300-305 [pounds], he's one of the strongest guys on the team. He's played extremely hard and he's gotten better weekly because of his diligence."
The current Longhorn offensive line unit has improved tremendously from last year and even from the beginning of this season. Communication, as well as a more stable lineup, has been key in the improvement.
"When I first moved to left tackle earlier this year, we had some communication issues," Ulatoski said. "But now we're on the same page and we're really working well together. I think a lot of it is getting used to playing next to people, getting used to their styles."
One of the biggest strengths for this year's offensive line is its depth, which has been bolstered by the performance of some talented young players.
"One thing (Coach McWhorter has) done a good job of is creating depth," Tanner said. "We've got some young guys that have come on. Michael Huey and David Snow have been playing on the top of their game."
But the maturation process is nothing without tutelage from some savvy upperclassmen.
Tanner remembers admiring the Texas offensive line that was playing when he arrived on the 40 acres, a unit that was an integral part of the 2005 National Championship squad.
"When I came in here in 2005, we had one of the best lines in the nation with Kasey [Studdard], Lyle [Sendlein], J-Scott (Jonathan Scott) and [Justin] Blalock," Tanner said. "They would come off the line and maul people. Watching that, I knew that was something I wanted to do."
And he has done just that. McWhorter notes Tanner has gained around 50 pounds since his arrival on campus.
"He's probably the strongest offensive lineman that we have and that really helps all of us," Ulatoski said. "He can move people out of there, and that's a real strength of his physically."
That strength has already been tested this year, as Tanner has faced some of the best competition available in the Big 12 and in the nation. The junior credits his teammates on the other side of the ball for preparing him every week.
"It's a different challenge each week," Tanner said of the Big 12 defensive tackle crop. "What's great is I get to go against people like Lamarr Houston and Roy Miller every single day in practice and they're some of the best in the nation, too."
The current line will lose only starter for 2009 in senior right guard Cedric Dockery. Tanner and his fellow linemen relish the rare opportunity of working with the same unit and maintaining the continuity that started in the last part of the 2007 season.
"Knowing that [almost] all of the pieces are back next year, we know that we have an opportunity to be one of the great offensive lines here at Texas," Tanner said. "As an offensive line, one thing that you have to do is jell as a unit, because it's about team play not individual play."
When it's all said and done, Tanner and his fellow linemen may very well be spoken of in the same breath as that 2005 group that showed them the ropes just a few years ago.