August 4, 2009

Countdown to kickoff: No.22 Adam Ulatoski

Name: Adam Ulatoski

Position: Left tackle

Classification: Senior

Prep credentials: The former South Lake Carroll star was a three-star prospect (5.7) that was ranked as the nation's No.24 offensive tackle. Ulatoski was ranked as the state's No.37 player by Lone Star Recruiting and No.36 by Rivals.com.

Click here to see Ulatoski's high school film

2008 stats: He started all 13 games at left tackles and was given the Boss Hogg Award five times as the team's best lineman in a game.

2008 Honors: Ulatoski was named first-team All-Big 12 by the Big 12 coaches and the Kansas City Star, while The Associated Press, Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram and San Antonio Express-News all named him to their second teams.

Career stats: Ulatoski has played in 36 career games and made 30 starts (14 at left tackle/16 at right tackle).

Best game in 2008: It's no surprise that one of Ulatoski's shining moments as a player in 2008 occurred against Missouri in a prime-time showdown that proved to be one of the program's true highlight moments of the season. Ulatoski graded out at over 90% in the game and held the Missouri defensive end to zero sacks and zero tackles for loss, while the Longhorns amassed nearly 600 total yards of offense (388 passing/201 rushing) in the 56-31 win.

Scouting Report: The 6-6, 310-pound Ulatoski has been a bit of a rubik's cube for the Longhorns from the moment he first signed with the Longhorns in 2004, but was forced to stay home and rehabilitate his back for the entire 2004 season. For much of his career, many have focused on the things that Ulatoski hasn't excelled at an elite-level at, while often ignoring the fact that he'll likely finish his career with 40+ starts and a three-time All-Big 12 selection. His strength as a player is definitely in pass protection. Although he doesn't have elite-level athleticism, he's an absolute natural in this phase of the game (thanks to his upbringing in the Southlake Carroll program) and he's a master technician. When Ulatoski gets beat, it's rarely because of a false step. Ulatoski sets back into his pass protection sets with ease and opposing defenders rarely unsettle his balance and pass level. It's an underrated aspect of the game, but Ulatoski has a great mental grasp of what he's trying to accomplish on the football field and rarely tries to step outside of his strengths.

On the other hand, core strength has been an issue for the senior since the early days of his career when the high school back injury set his physical development back. Although he's improved as a run blocker and is a plus-player in that department, he doesn't always get the leverage and pad level that he needs to finish blocks. It's never been a toughness issue for Ulatoski because he'll scratch, claw and fight his way through 60 minutes, but he'll lose the occasional play because the guy across from him is a better athlete. Overall, his play is often underrated because he's not a physically dominant player , but he wins nine out of ten plays with the set of tools that he does possess.

The big hope… Ulatoski has been sitting at very good for a while, but he has not been able to achieve greatness as a player. In his final season on the 40 Acres, Ulatoski takes that next step.

The big worry… He remains a very good player, but not a great one. For an offensive unit that is trying to become a more consistent running team, it could be tough to take that step if your senior left tackle isn't taking it with you.

Did you know? Ulatoski graduated in December '08 with a degree in corporate communications and is enrolled in graduate school for advertising.

NFL Scouting report:"You cannot be a four-year starter at tackle at a place like Texas without being able to play. Ulatoski's not a highlight film guy. If you're looking for one of those three-click players, he's not going to be your guy. However, when you put in game film and watch his work against guys that will play in our league, he looks much better. He definitely has a future here, but I don't know if he has it and that's something that he's going to need at this level if he doesn't want to be just a guy. If that proverbial light switch comes on for him, he could make himself a lot of money this season. I don't think he's a seven-figure bonus kind of guy, but he'll be a very attractive player because he should be able to step in and contribute right away."

The bottom line: The kid is the anchor or the Texas offensive line and among the most important players on the team, but the team needs more out of him. An improved Ulatoski means an improved offensive line. That could be the difference between and a championship and just another year this season.


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