Almost. A-l-m-o-s-t. We're five days away from the start of August training camp, which means this is the last dead-season column of the year. If you think you guys are desperate for the off-season to end, imagine being a writer with an empty bucket of off-season narratives to analyze. Whatever happens this season is whatever happens, but for the love of God, can we please get on with it?!?! Almost. Given that actual passes will be thrown, blocks will be made and competition will commence, I thought it might be a good idea to go ahead and put all of the expectations for the next month on the table. The thirst for information is such that it's easy to lose sight of the forest through the trees. Here's a list of things I expect to occur over the course of the next month or so. When these things happen, there won't be any reason to have a surprise reaction. You've been warned. Game-week decision at quarterback Nothing about the way Tom Herman is approaching the quarterback competition suggests he'll want to announce a starter until he absolutely has to, which means it'll probably be the Monday before the opener before we know, although it wouldn't surprise me if he waits until the day of the Maryland game before announcing a decision. Sam Ehlinger will take the majority of the work with the first-team offense Junior Shane Buechele is going to have to play really, really well or Ehlinger is going to have to be a disaster in camp in order for Ehlinger to lose the job of running out with the offense for the first series against the Terps. Throughout this off-season, Ehlinger has been the first guy to run out with the first-team offense. He's received more first-team reps. The expectations inside the program are that Ehlinger will emerge as the starter. Regardless of what Herman says publicly about the matter, Ehlinger enters camp as a heavy betting favorite. Defense controls the offense There will be days when the offense potentially gets the best of the defense. Hell, it might even happen in a scrimmage at some point, especially if Tom Herman instructs Todd Orlando to go vanilla during the proceedings, but day in and day out, the Texas defense is going to get the better of the Texas offense. Offense is a serious work in progress Just to be clear, this is an offense that enters the off-season with a quarterback battle taking place, the integration of multiple new running backs that weren't involved in spring workouts, multiple tight ends coming back from injury and an offensive line that still needs to make a leap of progress. Oh, and the unit hasn't established an identity yet that it can lean on. Don't freak out about the lack of hyperbole and don't get too excited if a bit of hyperbole is used in the next month. It is what is. Youth will rule The 2018 recruiting class is not only the first true group of Tom Herman's guys to enter the program, it's loaded with the kind of talent that can take an upperclassman's job if that upperclassman leaves the door open (even a little). Expect buzz. Expect hyperbole. Expect Herman to embrace it all. No. 2 - Going out of state ... I can't tell which part of the Texas out-of-state recruiting strategy impresses me more ... a. The fact that 47 percent of the 2019 recruiting class is from outside of the state of Texas. b. The fact that the Longhorns have gone to five different states to put together that 47 percent, including areas in which the current staff doesn't have a lot of history of success. Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma ... this staff goes where the talent is. There's some interesting discussion to be had about the importance of balancing recruiting well out of state with the need to lock down the most important regions of the state of Texas (something the Longhorns aren't totally achieving), but don't let the fact that the Longhorns aren't crushing it in-state at the same levels as last signing day get in the way of the reality that this staff is approaching recruiting exactly the way some of us have been begging for the coaches to do for 20+ years. I'm a guy that is big about having options and heavily expanding the recruiting map has not only given the staff options in a recruiting year when they are dearly needed, but it has saved the 2019 recruiting class at this point when you consider that six of the team's 10 current Rivals.com four stars are from out of state. I never thought any of us would live to see the day when Texas would recruit in this fashion. The issues that Texas has in-state in this year's class isn't ideal and can't continue annually, but the bottom line is that the Longhorns have the seventh-highest average star ranking in the country. There are a lot of ways to put together a nationally elite class. As long as you get there, it doesn't matter the path that led you there. No. 3 - But, can he play offensive line... Yes, Javonne Shepherd can. Given the lack of big-time offensive line options staring at the Longhorns in the face in the 2019 class, securing Shepherd this weekend was incredibly critical. He won't be the highest-ranked member of this class. Hell, he might not finish in the top 10. yet when you consider the desperate need that the Longhorns still have to upgrade the offensive line talent inside the program, few recruits in this class will carry more pure value to the table. It also serves as a less than subtle reminder to the members of the Texas A&M football community that the Longhorns can still serve up a five-knuckle sandwich on them in recruiting, just in case anyone started feeling too good about a very good recruiting class that is further away from the Longhorns in average star ranking per prospect than Texas is to Alabama. Sunday was a reminder of the proper world order of things. Oh, and Shepherd can play offensive tackle. Let's not forget about that. No. 4 - This deserves its own section .. Rest in peace, Frank Denius. One of the classiest people I've ever had a chance to meet in my time of covering Texas athletics. No. 5 - I used to squat 500+ pounds in high school ... Imagine if I had been able to work out with Yancy McKnight? FINISH. 700 club. HookEm🤘🏾 pic.twitter.com/PtG5v3YeTG— Marqez Bimage (@MarqezBimage_) July 27, 2018 No. 6 - Story-time with Uncle Ketch... For those that don't know my full history, I joined Rivals.com in 1999 and spent two years working in the same office as Bobby Burton and Jeremy Crabtree in what was the original recruiting hub of the network before it set up shop in Seattle (and then later in Nashville). It was the old days of the Internet ... the true Wild, Wild West. Inside this little office, the three of us were no more than 10 feet away from each other at all times, which means that one of the best parts of the job was listening in on the conversations that were taking place around us. You never knew when a national-championship winning head coach would be calling the office to talk recruiting because the industry was just different back then. For college coaches across the country, we were dialed into the recruiting scene in ways that has never existed before and coaches loved to call us in the name of swapping information. Well, there was one head coach that used to call the office all the time. Frankly, this guy is a legend in the recruiting industry for his ability to recruit nationally. One day, this coach called the office with a request. It turns out that the coach had been talking to a kid in Florida that his school was recruiting about star rankings. Apparently, the coach had made the kid a promise - if he committed to him, he would help get the kid his missing fifth star. "I need you to make him a five-star for me," the coach told Rivals. "I told him I could do it." When told that we couldn't move this prospect into five-star territory just because he wanted us to, the coach made a strong case for the player to receive the fifth star. It was the sales job of all sales jobs. The passion during the speech was evident. Still, the kid wasn't going to get his fifth star and that was that. Eventually, the coach conceded. "That's ok," he relayed back. "He's not my first or second choice, anyway." No. 7 – Buy or Sell … BUY or SELL: Texas ends up with a top-25 defense and a top-50 offense? (Sell) I'm iffy on this answer, just for the record. I suppose I'll believe in the offense when it gives me true reasons to do so. BUY or SELL: Now that over half of the recruiting class is set, we can confidently predict that Texas will land a consecutive top-5 recruiting class? (Sell) In order to pull off a top five class, Texas needs to land a few more monsters, including a number of national top-50 players. A top-10 class is doable, but I'm not sure about a top-5 class. BUY or SELL: A 3-star recruit Texas commit almost 100 percent of the time will change to a 4 star months later, not deserving of such? (Sell) For a kid that is relatively unknown, a commitment to Texas simply forces an enhanced evaluation that might not have otherwise existed without the commitment, but it doesn't automatically translate to him receiving four-star status. There have been moments of recruiting inflation over the years with Texas commitments, but it's not a consistent issue. BUY or SELL: Herman addresses DFW recruiting after next season? (Buy) There will be at least one change in the off-season on the coaching staff. BUY or SELL: Herman takes over play-calling during the USC game and keeps it going forward? (Sell) I think he would view that as desperation and I'm not sure he's close to that point. BUY or SELL: Beating the 6 teams we will be HEAVY favorites against (Maryland, Tulsa, Baylor, ISU, Kansas, Tech) and then going 2-4 against the teams we are not heavy favorites against (but still possibly favorites) would be a successful season? (Sell) It would be improvement, but it wouldn't be a successful season. A Texas successful season in football ends with either a conference title, a major bowl game or both. Eight wins is barely a successful season at Texas Tech. BUY or SELL: Recruiting high talent can overcome an average college strength and conditioning program? (Buy) Some will say that the Longhorns overcame it in Mack Brown's most successful stretch. BUY or SELL: Do you think Marcus Tillman ends up a 4 Star? (Buy) It's certainly possible when you consider he is already very close to that status. BUY or SELL: Billy Liucci is the biggest douche bag you have ever met? (Sell) Not even close. I actually like Billy. BUY or SELL: Will Baker signs with Texas? (Buy) Yeah, he's a Westlake kid. I'll always put my money on Texas for a Westlake basketball player. No. 8 – Eternal Randomness of the Spotty Sports Mind … ... I have never been this disinterested in the Dallas Cowboys in my entire life. It's not any one thing, it's a lot of stuff, but the resigned loss of intensity in the most important pro sports team in my life is real. It's really hard to comprehend. ... When Kevin Durant is done playing basketball, he's going to be remembered for his basketball exploits first, all of the social media stuff second. The benefit of winning rings is that it allows your positive narratives to dominate the negative narratives. Example: Ray Lewis ... As someone that was a kid in the 80s and viewed him as a baseball-playing god, I'm all for Dale Murphy being in the MLB Hall of Fame. ... It's time for Christian Pulisic to fulfill his destiny as a Liverpool player. Come to Klopp. ... Welcome to Liverpool. Proud to make my Debut like this for @LFC 🔥🔥😎👌🏽 Big thanks to the fans in 🇺🇸for the Warm welcome🔴🔴#XS23#YNWA pic.twitter.com/dglB7xGmk0— Xherdan Shaqiri (@XS_11official) July 29, 2018 ... Welcome to the MLS. No. 9 - The List: Best NFL Running Backs of All-Time ... 10. Adrian Peterson 9. Tony Dorsett 8. O.J. Simpson 7. Eric Dickerson 6. Earl Campbell 5. Marshall Faulk 4. Barry Sanders 3. Walter Payton 2. Jim Brown 1. Emmitt Smith Just to be clear, Smith's resume and accomplishments make this an easy call, especially at a position when the players are all quite aesthetically different from each other. All-time leading rusher by 1,600+ yards. Three championships. Both a regular-season and Super Bowl MVP. Legendary performances in big games. Of the backs in the Super Bowl era, only one put a decade-defining dynasty on his shoulders week-in and week-out. No. 10 – And Finally ... This isn’t important, but it sure made me smile on Sunday morning. Tweet!