THE FUTURE IS NOW After a dominant spring camp, Collin Johnson is poised to have a breakout year in 2017.
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in this issue
2017 Spring Game |
Texas fans get their first look at Hermanâ€™s Longhorns.
5 Quick Thoughts |
Ianâ€™s initial thoughts after watching the spring game.
Return of the Predator? |
Malik Jefferson will be key to improvement on defense in 2017.
Then and Now - Offense | Then and Now - Defense
Eric gives progress reports for each player.
Hoops News & Notes |
Joe Cook Shaka talks Matt Coleman and one-and-dones with Joe. by
Texas Raids Oklahoma |
Herman pulls three huge verbals away from Bob Stoops and the Sooners.
Publishers -- Michael Pearle, Clendon Ross | Managing Editor--Clendon Ross | Editor-- Mike Blackwell InsideTexas.com Editor -- Justin Wells | Lead Writer -- Joe Cook | Contributor -- Ian Boyd Designer/Photographer -- Will Gallagher | Recruiting Analyst -- Eric Nahlin To Subscribe/Customer Service -- Phone: 512-659-8167 | Email: email@example.com April/May - 2017
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HERMAN GETS HIS FIRST LOOK AT 2017 LONGHORNS by Joe
IN TOM HERMAN’S FIRST GAME COACHING IN FRONT OF A CROWD AND WITH A SCOREBOARD AT ROYAL-MEMORIAL STADIUM, THE ORANGE TEAM DEFEATED THE WHITE TEAM, 52-51.
he scoring was peculiar, with penal-
39 for 369 yards and two touchdowns.
ties taking points off the boards, big
Freshman Chris Brown created the only
plays adding three points for the White or
interception on the day when he made
offense’s total, and turnovers or missed
a fantastic play to intercept Buechele
field goals adding to the Orange or
in the second half. Both of Buechele’s
touchdown passes came inside the defense’s 30 and found sophomore Collin
While the game came down to the de-
Johnson’s hands. Johnson is thought to
fense making a stop in a situational 4th
be the go to receiver in this program, and
and goal from the two, there was plenty
he played like it today, leading the team
to glean from this game.
with eight receptions for 117 yards to go along with his two touchdowns.
PASSING Freshman Sam Ehlinger was not put in a It was ones versus twos for almost the
lot of situations to let him succeed today.
entire scrimmage, and the ones took
Behind the second string offensive line,
advantage. The offensive play call began
Ehlinger was constantly under pressure
with some trickery as sophomore Devin
and forced to move outside of the pocket.
Duvernay caught a pitch and looked for
While he was wearing a black no-contact
junior Jerrod Heard down the sideline,
jersey, Ehlinger received a couple bumps
but it fell incomplete.
from Texas defenders, and would have been lit up several times if this were live
Facing a secondary that could not match
up with a lot of the athleticism lined up across from them, sophomore quarter-
However, Ehlinger found space to
back Shane Buechele looked comfort-
make several good throws against the
able finding windows both inside and
defense, including his lone touchdown
outside the pocket. Buechele was 23-of-
pass to sophomore Lil’Jordan Humphrey.
April/May - 2017
- 2017 ORANGE-WHITE GAME Stepping up, Ehlinger found Humphrey
tinued to find spaces to catch the ball.
well today and gave Buechele enough
matched up against junior Kris Boyd.
Hemphill-Mapps showed great vision
time to find receivers.
Humphrey went over Boyd to make the
and found holes in coverage, hauling in
catch in the end zone for six more White
five balls for 84 yards. Sophomore Devin
The second team offensive line was a
points. Ehlinger had a chance to match
Duvernay brought in two receptions for
different story. Whether it was sopho-
Buechele’s touchdown total when he
50 yards, and freshman Davion Curtis
more Jean Delance or freshman JP
launched a deep ball to senior Dorian
brought in two catches in for 30 yards.
Urquidez at left tackle or sophomore
Leonard. However, the ball bounced off
Senior Armanti Foreman, senior Lorenzo
Denzel Okafor or senior Tristan Nick-
of Leonard’s hands and landed in the
Joe, junior John Burt and junior walk on
elson at right tackle, the second OL
dirt. Ehlinger ended the day 10-for-31 for
Michael Wilson each had one reception
struggled mightily with the pass rush.
148 yards and a touchdown.
on the day.
Much of this can be attributed to the quality of the first team defensive line
Heard only brought in one reception on
Sophomore quarterback Josh Covey
the day, streaking down the middle past
was 0-for-4 in limited action.
sophomore linebacker Erick Fowler.
and pass rush.
With linemen like sophomore Malcolm
Buechele placed the ball perfectly over
In passing situations, the first team
Roach, junior Chris Nelson, senior
Fowler’s head for a 37 yard reception.
offensive line, anchored by junior All-
Poona Ford and senior linebacker Na-
Freshman Reggie Hemphill-Mapps con-
American Connor Williams, performed
ashon Hughes, whose role asks for a lot of pass rushing, Ehlinger had an orange jersey in his face constantly. Herman spoke at length during spring practices about wanting to have faith in his first seven or eight offensive linemen. Those last two or three need some work.
RUNNING With freshman early enrollee Toneil Carter as the only scholarship running back available for the Orange-White game, what the running game would look like was somewhat of a mystery coming into today. Carter struggled some with ball security and decisiveness, but did not look to be too overwhelmed by the college game. Carter finished the day with 60 yards on 10 carries.
The lone rushing touchdown on the day came from a one yard rush from BuechLil’ Jordan Humphrey
ele on a read play.
- 2017 ORANGE-WHITE GAME -
Chris Nelson (97)
Brandon Jones manned one safety
the punter and the returner. Herman
position while junior DeShon Elliott held
practices punt at every practice and did
As previously mentioned, the first team
down the other. Juniors Kris Boyd and
not want to put anything on film for other
defensive line put in a great effort and
Holton Hill played well on the outside,
teams to study, as other teams have
held the second team offense relatively
and junior PJ Locke manned the nickel
also done during their spring scrim-
in check. Roach and Hughes looked
only one tackle between them, a sack
In addition to Omenihu, sophomore Jef-
Junior Michael Dickson, now wearing
from Roach. Nelson lead the team in QB
frey McCulloch put together a good per-
No. 37, spun several good punts and
hits (3) while also notching two PBUs.
formance. He put some great moves on
even the bad one ended up being pretty
Junior Charles Omenihu had some
Williams to reach the backfield, and was
good. Heard and Foreman were the re-
flashes throughout the day.
complimented by defensive coordinator
turners, and while Foreman made some
Todd Orlando after the scrimmage.
odd decisions, like catching a ball inside
strong in their roles, although there was
the five, Herman likely wonâ€™t let those
The leading tacklers on the day were junior safety John Bonney and freshman
In one of the series with the twos,
corner Donovan Duvernay, each with
junior Jarmarquis Durst, a transfer from
six. Fowler, Brown, and freshman Eric
Tarleton State, received some action at
Junior Josh Rowland, another member
Cuffee followed them with five apiece.
of the class of 2017 that saw action to-
things continue into the fall.
day, was 3-for-4 today, only missing one The depth chart looked about the same
49 yard field goal that had the distance but was just left.
as it had late in the spring, with juniors Malik Jefferson and Anthony Wheeler
During every punt play, there were
joining Hughes and Hager. Sophomore
three players on the field; the snapper, Jean Delance
April/May - 2017
spring spring game game by by Ian Ian Boyd Boyd
have no idea who won this game, the scoring
Some major caveats to the action include the lack
there’s no motivation to understand who won or
chart (hopefully), pass-oriented play-calling that
system was pretty much incomprehensible and
Not for me at least, I guess the losers had to run
of RBs that will actually be at the top of the depth
put the 2nd team DBs in a tough spot and the 2nd team OL in a real bind.
gassers. The 1st team won most of the battles in
It was nice seeing Malik scrape and make the goal
games of the past.
next year if Malik is playing physical and smart
this game which is a step up from 1s vs 2s spring
line stand at the end. Texas wins a lot of games against the run.
#1 Pass rush... This defense is going to destroy any team with less than good pass
Malcolm Roach appeared on first viewing to be more comfortable
protection. They were in the heads of the Texas OL when bringing
as a stand-up edge rusher than as a 4i-tech with his hands in the
even rudimentary pressures. If there was any degree of disguise
dirt. Charles Omenihu actually seemed more disruptive playing with
or craftiness involved then you could forget it in terms of the QB
his hand in the dirt but Roach as a stand-up player looked utterly
having any time.
dominant and he wasn’t bad with his hand in the dirt either. There was an early snap where he got matched up on a walk-on RB that
Even some of the Rover insert blitzes from Freeman caught the 1st
would have been the end of Ehlinger’s season were they play-
team OL with their pants down and would have landed some sacks
ing with live bullets. Ehlinger looked more concerned with setting
on Buechele. With Roach, Hughes, Nelson, Ford and the overload
protections after that.
blitzes threatening either edge Malik should get at least three sacks next year just from learning to disguise those blitzes and getting
The 2-4-5 front that Texas played with Hughes and Roach as stand-
free runs into the backfield. He should get another three or so from
up OLBs is one of the most schematically overwhelming rushing
chasing down QBs that have been flushed by those same players
sets I’ve ever seen in this league. It was child’s play for them to
and tactics. If he can’t do that then Edwin Freeman can, no. 35 was
send Roach off the edge a few times, get the offense thinking about
looking good timing those Rover blitzes to avoid getting picked up.
him, and then dropping him into coverage and overloading the opposite edge, getting tremendous pressure every time.
Chris Nelson absolutely dominated the 2nd team OL and was pushing the pocket up the middle one snap and then whipping Delance
I’ll probably be talking about this set all offseason, it’s like Christ-
on the edge the next snap. Jean Delance didn’t have a good day
mas came early for me.
and I’m definitely concerned about the tackles.
#2 This wasn’t the base offense We didn’t see much run game in this one with the offense instead calling a lot of pass plays. Whether this was because they didn’t want to show too much on offense, they were limited at RB, the single-high coverages from the offense negates many pass options, or because Herman didn’t want to show cracks in the defense I don’t know. Perhaps it was a combination of everything, regardless they called a ton of drop back passing plays in this game and I don’t think that will be the case (to this extent) in the regular season. If Texas was actually going into a game with Ehlinger needing to start at QB and facing a pass-rush this devastating they’d have called at least 30 plays with a QB run element or option. Instead they called power-read maybe three or four times. The receivers are excellent and both Ehlinger and Buechele had some moments delivering the ball to them, particularly Buechele who often had more time to work and better targets to work with. No doubt Texas will throw the ball plenty next season, but they won’t be nearly this pass-heavy in the season. Shane Buechele
Naashon Hughes (40) and Malcolm Roach (32)
April/May - 2017
#3 The qb battle isn’t quite over Herman didn’t set this game up to be a QB battle between Shane and Sam. Buechele got to work exclusively with the first team and while he did have to deal with some nice 2nd team D blitzes and some snaps with Delance guarding his blindside, the game was set up for him to thrive. Not so with Ehlinger, who was asked to beat the first team D with drop back passing and not much run game to help him out. Naturally, Buechele’s stats were consequently much better…much, much better. However, Shane threw a pick (seemed to fail to recognize man-under coverage from dime personnel) and Ehlinger made the throw of the day beating great coverage from Kris Boyd to hit Lil’Jordan for a TD. Then Lil’Jordan overcame impressive range and a big hit from DeShon Elliott coming from the middle of the field and held on for the score. We didn’t get to see how either of these guys handle a lot of the base RPO calls in this offense that the staff is saving for Maryland (or USC, even). Perhaps the format of the game tells us that Herman sees Buechele as the man, hence his favorable situation, but that’d be the stronger argument to me than what happened in this scrimmage. I’m assuming Buechele starts week one but I think there’s a solid chance that Ehlinger overtakes him at some point in the next year. Both of them need to work through their progressions quicker because they would have taken a ****ton of sacks in this one.
#4 Boundary X Lil’Jordan Humphrey looks excellent, I think his future is bright.
Interestingly Reggie Hemphill-Mapps was a frequent target on
He’ll be a worthy backup to Collin Johnson who is going to
some of the corner routes and he looked good all day long.
command double teams inside the 40 and possibly every-
Lots of guys found it easy to find space running underneath
where else on the field for other teams. This staff is going to
that vertical threat though, I think we’ll see a lot of that next
work a lot of the offense around how teams are forced to play
Johnson when he’s in close range there on the boundary. Lots of teams are going to have to play him with safety help over the top, he’s simply overpowering. They worked a ton of Y-sail (outside WR runs a go/fade, slot runs a corner route, someone else runs a flat and I imagine they’ll use Collin Johnson running that go route to clear out space on the reg.
April/May - 2017
#5 Most big question marks remain We saw a lot of encouraging things in
We didn’t get to see Breckyn Hager play
this game, even signs of an elite pass-
hardly at all, nor see many snaps where
rush and elite play from Collin Johnson
the first team D was having to fit the run
at wideout both of which are unques-
properly against good spread-option run
tionably worth a fair number of wins
game. We still don’t know how well the
QBs manage this stuff either.
I’m not sure yet without looking closer
Nevertheless, we got to see a lot and I
if Texas has even two good tackles
think everyone should be pretty encour-
that won’t need to be schemed to help,
aged overall that the 2017 Longhorns
much less whether or not they have
are going to have this program back on
three. This was a tough test, even the
2nd team defense was capable of bringing pretty solid pressure with Shark, Omenihu, Freeman, and Fowler out there. The first team D looked like the 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers so we’ll see, maybe things aren’t quite as bad as they appeared. Connor Williams’ health seems doubly important now not only for the upside he offers but for the downside his replacements might bring.
Follow Inside Texas twitter.com/InsideTexas
RETURN OF TH by
THE PREDATOR IS NOT REALLY A PREDATOR AT ALL. MALIK JEFFERSON IS A STUDENT AND AN ATHLETE, IN THAT ORDER. HE’ S THE UNOFFICIAL/OFFICIAL FOOTBALL TEAM RECRUITER, EAGER TO HOST RECRUITS AND SING PRAISES OF THE SCHOOL AND THE FOOTBALL TEAM. HE EMBRACES HIS RESPONSIBILITIES AS A ROLE MODEL. HE’ S SPOKEN OUT PUBLICLY ABOUT GUNS ON CAMPUS. HE’ S EVEN BEEN CALLED THE “UNOFFICIAL MAYOR OF AUSTIN.”
April/May - 2017
- return of the predator -
nd now, he needs to be The
In a loss to Kansas State - one of
it should be, but NFL scouts still see
two losses for Texas to teams from
The Predator, though he’ll still have
the state of Kansas in 2016, in case
a year of eligibility left after next
He arrived at Texas as the “face of
you need to be reminded - Jefferson
the program” for Charlie Strong.
was replaced for long periods of
Everyone had longed for Jefferson
time. Strong - who made Jefferson
But for now, Jefferson plays for the
when he was thriving in high school
Exhibit A for what the Longhorns
Texas Longhorns. And as the new
in Mesquite, but it was Strong who
would become - had now chosen
head coach for the Longhorns, Tom
closed the deal.
to bench the face of his program.
Herman is certainly not concerned
Losses mounted as quickly as doubt.
with Jefferson’s hype coming out of
A 6-3, 230-pounder who ran a 4.4
high school, his nickname, or with
40-yard dash, The Predator was a
Fast forward to 2017, and one
perfect nickname for someone who
publication has already projected
made his mark running sideline-to-
the junior Jefferson to be picked in
What he IS concerned with, is Jef-
sideline terrorizing whomever had
the top 10 of next year’s National
ferson swooping swiftly toward the
Football League draft. Production
opposing quarterback, providing
may be less than what many believe
leadership to go along with his fertile
Fast, big, charismatic, caring, thoughtful. Certainly he lived up to his massive hype - and his nickname - as a Texas freshman. He was named as a freshman All-American after finishing second on the team in tackles with 61. He started nine games, and was the Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. He even scooped up a fumble and sprinted for a touchdown against Rice. And then, 2016. Last season was, obviously, one to forget for Jefferson. Probably miscast as a middle linebacker, he nevertheless started nine games again, but found himself in and out of the lineup. His play was more puzzling than predatory. A true predator attacks with instinct; Jefferson seemed more reactive than proactive.
the opinions of NFL scouts.
- return of the predator mind, and showing persistent aggression. Like, ummm, a Predator. And as a recent interview seems to suggest, Jefferson has a way to go before getting a complete verbal stamp of approval from his new coach. “Malik’s got a lot of work to do, but he’s had a good spring from an effort and attitude standpoint,” Herman said. “When we got here, Malik Jefferson benched press more than he squatted, so he’s got some years of development that he’s missed from a legs strength standpoint and he’s attacking this summer offseason very, very intensely.” The key words from that commentary being “attacking” and “intensely.” Herman appears to be a fan of those words, and there was speculation last season by some - rightly or wrongly - that Jefferson wasn’t bringing enough attack-style intensity to
That production should be even
recognizing the male student-ath-
greater under new Texas defensive
letic who “through perserverance,
coordinator Todd Orlando, who will
determination and motivation, has
move Jefferson into an outside line-
embraced the opportunity to earn a
backer/rover-type linebacker, which
degree from Texas. The honoree has
should make better use of his speed
served as a leader and influential
and chase-the-ball attributes.
role model to other student-athletes and to the community.”
No longer should Jefferson find himself clogged in the middle of the
As much as Jefferson relishes
Even Jefferson admitted as much
field, cluttered by offensive linemen
being The Predator, he’s perhaps
who outweigh him by 70 pounds.
even more comfortable as Malik.
Now he’ll be able to roam, to follow
He’s a scholar, for sure, and seems
the ball, to get after the quarterback.
genuinely interesting in expanding,
To release The Predator.
growing, learning, expressing.
And then, when it’s time to leave The
All of which is fine and good with
Predator on the field, will Jefferson
Herman, so long as Jefferson does
comfortably revert to being the Unof-
something that will be crucial for the
ficial Mayor of Austin. He recently
Longhorns’ success in 2017: become
received the Men’s Athletics Council
The Predator again.
last season, when he had his midseason malaise followed by a lateseason resurgence of sort. “I’m mad at myself more than anything,” Jefferson said last season. “He (Strong) has to put the best people out there, and I wasn’t producing. I started practicing harder and it showed up on the field and I started producing.”
Academic Achievement Award,
April/May - 2017
THEN AN BY ERIC NAHLIN
WHEN FOLLOWING FUTURE LONGHORNS IN HIGH SCHOOL RECRUITING, IT’S FUN TO LOOK BACK AT THE EVALUATIONS, PROGRESSIONS, AND HITS AND MISSES. WITH UT’S 2017 SQUAD FINISHING UP SPRING BALL UNDER FIRST-YEAR COACH TOM HERMAN, LET’S TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT THE 85-MAN ROSTER, THEN AND NOW. April/May - 2017
irst things first, there is no quarterback
clubhouse, but he’s not. The still youthful
thinking, release, and feet.” This was also
controversy on the 40 Acres. What
yet promising Shane Buechele isn’t going
evident on tape to me, but it was also great
Texas has is a depth chart - sort of - and
to come back to Ehlinger, Sam is going to
to hear this guy had him as his #1 quarter-
quarterback competition not unlike competi-
have to go out and catch him.
My personal stance on quarterback contro-
Further thoughts were: he was a functional,
versies, both real and imagined, is I don’t
coordinated athlete, the type who picks up
Real controversies usually happen when a
give a damn who plays, as long as it’s the
golf clubs every six months and breaks 90
quality, known commodity at the position,
winner of a fair competition. And since that’s
or goes out and bowls 240 while jacking
gets hurt and the player behind him plays
the only type of competition Tom Herman
around with friends. I hated these guys in
exceedingly well in his absence.
knows, the rest is wasted bandwidth.
high school but was glad they were leading
tion at most other positions. That’s a good thing fans should be celebrating.
This would be Joe Montana and Steve
Shane Buechele | so
our team. What really made him my guy in the class of 2016 was the easy read from far-out that Texas needed a high floor
Young to my youth, and Tony Romo and Dak Prescott of more recent vintage. Those
Then: I was high on Buechele from the start
quarterback after taking two quarterbacks in
played out in predictable, literal ageism
(after his sophomore year) and even at a
2015 who had the longest of long develop-
fashion. The Niners and the Cowboys went
young age I could see he was going to have
mental curves at the position.
with the guy who provided them the oppor-
the mental acuity to play early in college.
tunity to be good for the distant future -- in
When Texas targeted him (we had him to
Recall I wanted Quinten Dormady in 2015
other words, the younger guy.
UT when others had him to OU) I did even
because of his ability to play early. Once
more homework on him, and that led me
Texas went with two projects in that class, it
Maybe if Sam Ehlinger was up against
to my go-to in-state quarterback evaluator
had to land a guy like Buechele. The previ-
Scott Bakula he’d be the leader in the
stating, “he’s quick in everything he does,
ous cycle affects the next cycle in more
- THEN and NOW - OFFENSE -
ways than just numbers. The staff screwed
release, and toughness. Probably the
tilt was versus perennial power Southlake
up in 2015, but did its best to remedy that
biggest negative I saw last year was lack
Carroll where Ehlinger led Westlake to a
with Shane in 2016.
of improvisation. That’s a trait lacking
white-knuckle victory despite SLC having
so far that I thought he had. That could
much better talent top to bottom. The win
Now: Well, he was ready to play early,
change with maturity, however. I was very
had me so excited for his future I went to
and while some might take umbrage to the
impressed with Shane’s patience in the
Cain and Abel’s immediately afterwards to
“quick thinking” line above, I’ll remind you
spring game and his understanding of
write about it.
that every freshman quarterback’s head is
when and where his receivers were going
going to swim. Perhaps the smartest quar-
The main point was he could beat you four ways: with his arm, legs, head, and heart.
terback in the history of the sport, Peyton Manning, once backed up a first baseman
This is easier to accomplish running 1s
His feel in the pocket was incredible, only
at the same stage as Shane. I mean, all
vs 2s and when you’re in a non-contact
matched by his ability to make off-sched-
first baseman do is stand around, pat
jersey, but I still think I saw some real de-
ule plays whether passing or running. He’d
opposing players on the ass and blow
velopment on his part. Originally I thought
go on to lead Westlake to an improbable
bubbles all day, and Peyton was behind
Ehlinger would catch Shane in-season,
state finals run, a game in which Westlake
him. Mouth-breathing Eli I’d understand,
now I’d rate that unlikely, barring injury.
should have won despite being yet again
Sam Ehlinger | fr
out-talented, this time by North Shore. I definitely had some questions about his
While Shane’s head may have been swimming at times, he also demonstrated
Then: Similar to Buechele, I liked Ehlinger
ability to make tough, intermediate throws,
incredible poise, the ability to make down-
early on based on sophomore tape but
but my biggest concern going into his se-
field throws (at least to the boundary),
didn’t truly fall in love with his ability until
nior year was his build. He was getting big
solid accuracy, a quick, middle-infielder’s
the first game of his junior season. That
and looking more like a bulky weight lifter
April/May - 2017
- THEN and NOW - OFFENSE than quarterback.
casions when he had time he looked like a
fense around. He’s going to get to the rack
viable passing threat. The scrimmage, like
himself like a young Baron Davis, but he
You need to stay flexible as a quarterback
summer camp settings, doesn’t reward his
can also pass.
and that includes your upper-half. There’s
ability as a runner, but he looked like he’d
a reason boxers don’t go crazy on the
be able to tuck and run for yardage on the
I’m every bit as excited about Ehlinger as
weights. Now my greatest concern is Sam’s
few early whistle carries he had.
I’ve ever been, but probably more so for
ability to stay healthy, with his linebacker
Buechele than I was at the end of last year
disposition doing him no favors. Despite an
It’s interesting to note, that while these two
(and it’s not like I was down on him then).
injury plagued senior season, he still helped
may have some differing physical attributes,
While I still think Ehlinger has a bit more
Westlake defeat Katy, with the game winner
they’re very similar mentally. Each is hyper-
physical/athletic upside, this competition will
being yet another improvisational throw
competitive, tough, and intelligent.
be won between the ears and time spent
while running for his life. Sam’s awareness
studying the playbook away from the meet-
and field vision are two of the many traits I
I do see them different in play-style, with
was bullish on would translate to the college
a point guard in basketball being a solid
metaphor: Shane is more of the distribu-
I’ll happily sit back and watch the competi-
tor who will feed your weapons in the right
tion unfold, and because Buechele has the
Now: Despite his poor stat line in the spring
place at the right time. He’ll hit your post
ability to be a solid, above average college
game, when adjusted for context (he was
(Collin Johnson) near the basket (goal line)
quarterback, Texas will really have some-
running 2s vs 1s), he actually looked pretty
to exploit a physical or positional mismatch,
thing if Ehlinger eventually wins out.
good and made a couple of throws I wasn’t
or hit a cutting two guard (Devin Duvernay)
sure he could make. All too often he had
with a clear path to the rack in stride. Sam
no time to make a play, but on the few oc-
is more of the point guard you build the of-
YO U HYD R AT E
Advantage Texas; advantage Texas fans.
W E D O N ATE
exas has talent, albeit largely unprov-
you get the ball to near the LOS and let him
running back. Then I heard the UT staff’s
en, and it has bodies, but can anyone
put his acceleration to work. He played as a
evaluation of him as a ‘mortgage payer’, or
assert himself as the lead back while the
true freshman exhibiting that burst on kick-
in other words he’s the type of player who if
rest of the depth chart finds its level behind
off return where he looked close to breaking
you sign enough of you can put down roots
a big one on a couple of occasions. He’s
in your current town. Never minding how
bounced back and forth between running
that went, Warren’s senior tape was very
That answer is yes, provided Chris Warren
back and receiver but off-the-field injuries
good and I was high on him coming out
stays healthy. That’s an ‘if’ the size Warren
have derailed him.
of Rockwall, with only Ronald Jones rated
higher at the position. Now: Bernard missed the entire spring but
If Warren does miss significant time I’m
is going to try and play in the fall. If healthy
Now: The aforementioned injuries have
confident we’ll see a platoon with the most
he could be an interesting return option or
hurt, but even when healthy Warren has
reliable players seeing the field first, even if
a player they flare out and get the ball to
played in fits and starts. He looked timid
others have more playmaking ability.
in space. Herman likes high percentage
his freshman year and then burst on the
throws to the running backs. Bernard is a
scene with a monstrous game versus Tech.
great kid so I’m pulling for him to contribute.
The following week versus Baylor when
Roderick Bernard | sr Then: I was very familiar with Bernard from going by Sharpstown to see Reggie Chevis. I even threw him passes in practice which gave me a good idea that his hands weren’t natural, but damn if he didn’t have elite play-speed. My book on him was ‘athlete’
he carried a lot of times in a yeoman effort
Chris Warren | jr
impressed me even more. His sophomore season saw him slow to get downhill at first
Then: I saw him as a sophomore and
but then he started to hit his stride a bit
wondered if he was a future linebacker but
before he was lost for the year. Health will
he showed enough ‘running back traits’ as
likely always be an issue for him. As a giant
a junior to convince me he could remain at
guy with uncommon movement ability he’s
April/May - 2017
- THEN and NOW - OFFENSE going to be tough on his joints, muscles, and tendons. When healthy and getting downhill he’s impressive, but he still needs to run behind his pads more. He could miss significant time next year, or run wild on the Big 12 and neither would surprise me. I do know the team won’t be at its best without a healthy Chris Warren.
Kirk Johnson | so Then: I wasn’t impressed with his junior year but learned he was hampered by injuries for much of it. This robbed him of explosion I didn’t know at the time he owned. I did like how he ran tough so when that explosion returned it was easy to fawn over his ability. He blew me away at Under the Lights head-
ing into his senior year where he looked like Marshall Faulk jetting into the flat. A sub 4.0 shuttle is something to see in action. Johnson had a big senior year and Texas got a
Kyle Porter | so
later in his freshman year showed a greater comfort level. He particularly showed the ability to use his leg drive against a stingy
steal thanks to some great bloodlines.
Then: Every time I saw Porter live he was
K-State defense that underscored the
fighting through injury. This didn’t let me
toughness I knew he had.
Now: Those bloodlines of course belong to
gauge his athleticism and burst but it did
his father, Johnnie. The former safety was high on Kirk’s ability in the last offense, but I much prefer him in this one because I think he can be deadly as a receiving threat. Of course we never saw him in action last year but if he can stay healthy that may be a
give a clear indication of his toughness.
He was the most durable back of the spring and will be rewarded accordingly in the fall.
I often ding Katy running backs because it’s
With Warren’s injury history Porter could
easier to look good as a Katy player than
become a focal point this upcoming season.
anywhere else because of the machine
If the offensive line is above average, Porter
that school is. The running lane is always
will be too.
blessing in disguise.
where it’s supposed to be, you’re often
I hear Johnson’s knee is fine and he should
level, and the run-game is complemented
not touched until the second or even third
Tristian Houston | so
by a solid passing attack. Porter wouldn’t
Then: I didn’t understand the offer based
have been the back I would have taken in
on his junior year, especially with UT’s indif-
that class, but after talking to some college
ferent pursuit of Ronald “Don’t call me Ro-
contacts I understood why UT took him over
land” Jones, who was obviously superior. I
people realize at about 210 pounds.
felt his senior tape showed better burst and
Hopefully he stays healthy because when
Now: Ian Boyd’s Kyle Porter bandwagon is
be good to go for fall ball. We’ve only seen glimpses of Kirk’s ability but those glimpses are ingrained in my memory. He’s an NFL level athlete who is now much bigger than
he hits 88 mph you’re going to see some serious s***.
he looked like a solid outside zone runner. equipped with a revolving door. Kyle is solid
Now: Hell if I know, he’s barely seen the
but unspectacular, though he runs hard and
field. I do know the last staff thought Tyrone
- THEN and NOW - OFFENSE Swoopes was a more viable running back
He looked comfortable considering he’s an
My excitement for Young is renewed. An
than Houston and even tinkered with
early enrollee. His hands also give him the
added bonus, Westfield ran three running
Lil’Jordan Humphrey returning to his high
versatility the offense is looking for. I think
backs with regularity last year, meaning
he’s going to be good and will hit some
Young is coming in with minimal wear and
bombs from far out, maybe as early as this
Toneil Carter | fr
Then: Loved his sophomore tape where his
Daniel Young | fr
Now: Young is going to come in and inspire guys to stay healthy because he’ll be physically ready for carries immediately. With
burst was evident. At that point I’m just kind of looking for baseline traits and he had
Then: Sort of a reverse Kirk Johnson evalu-
the Derrick Rose-ian injury history of all the
good size and could run.
ation as I liked him quite a bit as a junior.
players ahead of him it’s not hard to envi-
I think I ranked him #5 in the state at the
sion him getting snaps as a true freshman,
As time wore on I questioned how innate
position but because he went to Westfield
though maybe a redshirt would be wise
he was as a runner: was he just a ‘to and
I didn’t pay him much attention for UT’s
until/unless he’s needed.
through the hole guy’ (there’s value in that)
purposes. How carry allocation shakes out is anyone’s
or did he have the feet, balance, vision required of the position? Another major
I thought he looked like he lost some
guess and largely dependent on injuries,
question: was he a contact runner?
quickness in his senior year but then he
some of which may sadly be more foreseen
ran faster track times this spring than the
Most of his highlights reminded of J-Gray
previous one. When I ranked him this year
running through giant lanes.
I mentioned if his burst translates to running outside zone he’s going to be a steal
Now: I liked what I saw in the spring game.
because we know he can punish between
I think he displayed some natural ability
Join the Conversation
as well as willingness to run through trash.
www.insidetexas.com April/May - 2017
Patrick Vahe (77) and Connor Wiliams (55)
erhaps no position in sports is more
third year on campus. The reason for that is
Sure, a lot of this can be said of other
underappreciated than offensive line.
the position - collectively - has the steepest
positions, but not to the degree of offensive
linemen. The notion they’re big, dumb guys,
Though writing about them last is mere
is one of sport’s greatest fallacies.
coincidence, all too often the position is an
Offensive line play is incredibly taxing, both
afterthought when in actuality it’s the most
mentally and physically.
important position grouping in the sport.
For Derek Warehime’s purposes, he has a whole lot more to work with at Texas than
Yes, more so than quarterback. It’s also the
Mentally: You must learn: the playbook,
he did at U of H, even when adjusted for
second hardest to master, only behind the
assignments according to defensive align-
conference. The line has but one glaring
person they’re charged to protect.
ments, technique with hands, hips and feet,
weakness - right tackle - and potentially four
proper steps, pad level, playing together as
strengths, or at least net neutrals.
So why is it fans take so little time to under-
a unit, reacting to audibles, and numerous
stand the plight of the o-lineman? Because
other little nuanced details. It requires the
it isn’t a glamour position and it requires the
most teamwork and cohesion.
most understanding of the sport, is the best
Let’s take a look.
Tristan Nickelson | sr - tackle
I can surmise. Who even watches the o-line
Physically: Some need to get bigger, some
after the ball is snapped?
need to get leaner, nearly all need to get
Then: He really has two ‘thens’; when I first
stronger, quicker, and more flexible. Some
saw him in high school, and then when he
Expectations for freshmen are almost
have to eat to the point they’re miserable to
left junior college. His high school tape was
always way too high, but expectations for
make weight. Notice how many offensive
quite poor and it was apparent the interest
offensive linemen are even worse than the
linemen shrink after their playing days?
in him was due to his height. He went to a
norm. Redshirting is considered by some
That has to do with working out, but also to
prep school before entering Juco and I was
to be an indictment of ability. In all honesty,
do with their body regressing to its natural
surprised to see how much he improved
expectations for 95% of incoming linemen
when he re-emerged on the Texas radar.
should be tempered until they’re in their
- THEN and NOW - OFFENSE Now: Nickelson is still a liability, but it’s
10 pick in next year’s draft.
a quality starter.
Patrick Vahe | jr - guard
Jake McMillon | jr - guard/center
When he arrived at Texas, OL depth was
Then: A Mack Brown commit with obvious
Then: I liked him as a big defensive line-
in dire need, and I think depth is prob-
high-end traits, he only lacked length. Had
man. I thought he was technical, scrappy,
ably his greatest value. I hate to write that
he been 6-foot-5, I wondered while watch-
and would be able to move up and down
because of how hard he works. It’s hard
ing him in the playoffs, he’d be a can’t
the line. I think I mentioned 3-tech poten-
being 6-foot-8 and doing all that’s required
miss left tackle.
tial but never mentioned offense, which
not because of lack of work ethic or effort. He’s played enough at Texas to deduce he struggles with foot quickness and strength.
of the position.
Brandon Hoddges | sr - tackle
looking back I should have. Now: Started a lot of games as a true freshman, though lost his starting spot as
Now: Though not a quick defensive line-
a sophomore to Jake McMillon. I still don’t
man, McMillon is quick by o-line stan-
Then: Another Juco who was needed for
recall the poor play that led to that, but I’m
dards, and he carried the scrappiness he
depth at a minimum. There weren’t a lot
far from an expert on anything, much less
had as a defender to the other side of the
of highlights out there of him but since he
offensive line play. Vahe is at the very least
ball. A team guy, McMillon was asked to
played with Chad Kelly we got a glimpse into his ability. He looked athletic with good size. He was a take all things considered. Now: He redshirted in his first year and played quite a bit last year. In his time he displayed some real ability but was too inconsistent. He needed much more development but he missed the spring because of academic issues. Not ideal. He’s expected back but he still has work to do. He’s another potential right tackle.
Connor Williams | jr - tackle Then: First I’ll tell you the good about my evaluation: I had him higher than anyone else in this line of work, and had him as a 4-star while he was a composite 3-star. Now the bad: even knowing he received offers at center, tight end, and left tackle, I failed to put all those telling pieces together and rate him higher. I had him in the mid-30’s I believe. I knew he was an upside left tackle, but not that he’d be good as a true freshman. The markers were there and I should have seen it more clearly. Now: There’s not much to say other than he’s athletic, intelligent, and pretty nasty. He’s a three-year player and potential top-
April/May - 2017
- THEN and NOW - OFFENSE add weight and make the switch and he did it seamlessly. He’ll start this year, the
Terrell Cuney | jr - center
question is whether it’s at center or guard. There’s a pinch of Kasey Studdard here.
Elijah Rodriguez | rr - guard
which meant you didn’t challenge him on his evaluations, especially those made hurriedly out of necessity. But, I didn’t have any
Then: There are two ‘thens’ here, too. The
major issues with Anderson and thought he
first is when I thought he was 6-foot-4,
was a future starter.
265 based off his grainy high school tape. I was thinking this is the next Dermontti
Now: Wrong. Anderson played in spots last
Then: He was committed to Colorado when
Dawson. Then I saw him at camp and had
year and competed but he’s not particularly
he started receiving interest from LSU,
him at about 6-foot-1, 255. That’s quite the
athletic or physical. Depth.
Florida, and Texas. Charlie Strong was new
difference. At that point you expect Cuney
to town, looked at the depleted offensive
to be quick and agile on the move, which
line roster, and realized he needed more
he was. I couldn’t believe Mack Brown was
Zach Shackelford | so - center/guard Then: I liked him as an interior player before I ever saw him play but I’ll spare you those lurid details; basically he looked the part. Film of him playing tackle revealed some real upside as an interior player and because he was an early enrollee I thought he’d play as a freshman, especially given the need. Now: Ankle sprains have been his biggest issue but after surgery hopefully that’s behind him. Shackelford’s snapping last year was an issue, though he likely just needs more reps. Shack and McMillon will battle for center with the “loser” of that competition likely going to guard. Don’t rule out McMillon keeping that job.
Denzel Okafor | so - tackle Then: I absolutely loved Okafor coming out: athletic, great feet, intelligent, and every other superlative save length, but even then
he had long arms. Most had him as a guard bodies. Rodriguez got the call and the
content taking Cuney as his sole offensive
but I thought he had the ability to stick at
Texas legacy said UT was the only school
lineman in the 2014 class and wrote about
that could have flipped him.
Now: He started a few games last year
Now: His physical limitations have hin-
should have redshirted. He’ll compete to
and he may start some more this season,
dered his opportunity to play at Texas and
start at right tackle and many think he’ll win
but his greatest value is his versatility to
we haven’t seen much of him. He’s the
the job, if not in August, then at some point
fill-in as needed. There’s a lot of value in a
emergecy center. Call him Bill Wennington.
in the fall. He’s very likely the future of the
Now: Let me get this out of the way; he
player who can enter the game in a pinch and follow his assignments. He’s not overly
Alex Anderson | jr - guard
athletic for tackle or physical for guard, but he’s a valuable player.
Then: Anderson was a ‘Wickline Special’
Jean Delance | so - tackle
- THEN and NOW - OFFENSE Then: I loved Delance too. He showed tons
Major was always going to be a project.
of athleticism as a junior, but then displayed
Now: Missing a year certainly won’t help
Now: He was an early enrollee and I
technical improvement as a senior. He
your cause if you need development, but
couldn’t believe how much weight he lost
bends well, and is quick, and at 6-foot-5, an
that’s what happened in Major’s case.
in a short timeframe. That was encourag-
ideal left tackle candidate.
Warehime has his hands full with the num-
ing but also told me he wasn’t going to see
ber of talented players who still have a long
the field for a long time. He went from 310
Now: Also should have redshirted, even
way to go until they’re ready for meaningful
to 275 in the hopes of re-shaping his body.
more so than Okafor. Any issues he might
At times last season he was the back-up
have are not athletic, he needs to get more physical and embrace the grind. Texas
Garrett Thomas | so - guard
needs him to step up and be the heir appar-
to Connor Williams, at least on the depth chart. I’m not exactly sure what his future holds, but he’s an example of what I was
ent to Williams or there could be some ma-
Then: I stumbled on his footage on
talking about in the opening. Put the hog in
jor concerns in 2018, or if Williams misses
Facebook when he was a sophomore and
the smoker not the microwave.
any time this season.
was really excited about his ability. I think
Buck Major | so - tackle
Michigan was his first offer and that had me
JP Urquidez | fr - tackle
feeling good about what I saw. With him being from nearby Louisiana I hoped Texas
Then: I felt he was way overrated early
Then: I liked him from a raw materials
would make a push and ultimately Wickline
on in the process. He certainly had good
standpoint but when I learned Wickline saw
did. I saw Thomas as a guard or right
size and looked the part, but I questioned
him as a future 1st rounder I was way more
tackle. Thought his feet were a tad heavy
his feet and hips when I saw him at Texas
high on the team’s unofficial videographer.
for tackle. This was a solid win over OU.
camp. Over time I saw film of his I liked, and film of his I didn’t which made for a tougher evaluation. I was mildly surprised Texas accepted him when he departed Baylor, but depth was still a concern. Now: He spent most of the spring as Williams’ back-up at left tackle, which was a surprise to me. I always felt he’d be a right tackle. That’s not to say the job is his when Williams departs, but it does tell you the staff thinks he at least has a chance to stick there. That’s already shooting holes in my initial evaluation but we’ll see how it plays out. Happy he’s on the roster.
Patrick Hudson | fr - guard Then: My lasting image of his high school tape is him pulling around the right side his sophomore year and wrecking people. I knew he had some questions but the natural ability and size was as good as it gets. He profiled to guard but his athleticism lent itself to the potential of right tackle. Tremendously strong.
Now: His stature and raw ability impresses
April/May - 2017
- THEN and NOW - OFFENSE all who cross his path, but he’s still a year
Then: I wasn’t familiar with him beyond his
I had heard good things about him from
away from truly being ready to play. He
name when Herman arrived to Texas, but
Houston contacts and knew they had him
needs to be more assertive and use his
he was a guy they coveted for quite some
rated as their best lineman in the class.
considerable power to ground people into
time. When his name began to circulate I
Hmmm. I’m missing something because he
the dirt. His issues are more mental than
watched and was impressed. I felt he had
looks stiff and not all that athletic which is
anything, but the upside is still there. He’s
iffy feet for right tackle and that coupled with
troubling for a leaner tackle.
spent almost all of his time at guard.
his lack of length means he’s headed for
Tope Imade | fr - guard
the interior. I really like the way he battles
Now: He has a lot of work ahead of him to
bigger, more talented players. It’s going to
add weight and loosen those hips up. He’ll
be tough to get between him and the quar-
be a power clean expert in no time. Put him
Then: I liked him as a guard; great build
terback. Good feet for guard, I liked him for
in the program and forget about him for a
and overall size, intelligent, and still largely
zone. Reminds of Chris Hall.
few years, and then see what emerges.
untapped. A powerlifter like Hudson, he also
He’s brining, he’s not even on the smoker
scored high marks in the work ethic depart-
Now: I feel he has a really solid upside for
ment. I mentioned the potential of center
center and he should have the luxury of
but haven’t heard of him working there.
redshirting and then sitting a year. Could be
This is probably the best group of line-
Foot quickness was a mild concern.
a guard as well.
men we’ve seen in Austin in some time,
Now: I haven’t heard much here other
Samuel Cosmi | fr - tackle
especially with the top four starters. Depth behind them is a mild concern and the
than it’s too early to tell with him. Basically there’s a chance.
Derek Kerstetter | fr - center/guard
one injury the team can’t afford is Connor Then: I saw him at the preseason Houston
Williams. Behind him is the biggest drop in
Touchdown Club and was impressed with
talent on the roster, any other losses are
his stature. Other than Jayden Peevy he
manageable to a degree. Texas has come a
was the most impressive looking kid there.
long way for me to write that.
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April/May - 2017
hat makes this position group so
Texas has perhaps three prototype X
some reliability issues. Too many remember
interesting is Texas has missed on
receivers, with Collin Johnson serving as
the drops and not the fact he had a fine
a number of top-end talents the last few
the Vitruvian Man. There are plenty of slot
season last year, and still has some big-
cycles, yet wide receiver is still probably the
receivers, Z receivers, and players you can
time playmaking ability. He’s proven versa-
deepest position, if not the most talented --
move around to exploit mismatches. There
tile as an inside or outside receiver, though
that would be the secondary.
are also dynamic options you can put on
I still think he’s a slot. He’ll get plenty of
sweeps and screens.
chances to shine, and should be back
Something else that’s interesting, the best
inside where I think he belongs. It’s not the
wide receiver, and also one of the most
The position is in literal good hands, it just
career he envisioned, but this offense can
talented, hail from opposite ends of the
needs a quarterback who can get playmak-
make a star out of a slot receiver in a hurry.
country. Texas won’t want to make a habit
ers the ball in a position to punish.
It’s going to be somebody, maybe Foreman.
Armanti Foreman | sr - y/z receiver
Dorian Leonard | sr - x receiver
stellar, he serves a purpose because of how
Then: I saw him his junior and senior year
Then: I loved his build, length and hands
he forces defensive alignment.
and liked him both times. I thought his play-
but thought his speed was average and
of that, but the staff will take any and all Collin Johnsons it can get, and even if John Burt’s conversion rate on deep passes isn’t
making would translate, and that he could
thought he might be a bit stiff. After he
With the abundance of spread offenses,
score in myriad ways. I did have questions
worked out with a trainer I know, I felt better
7 on 7 camps, and the sheer number of
about his hands, and whether he would
about his hips, but still wondered if he’d
athletic wide receiver body-types the state
become a fully competent receiver or just
become a complete receiver.
produces, UT should always have an elite
an athlete making plays. Now: He had a breakout camp two years
position grouping. The same goes for Now: He flashed big play potential early
ago and then dropped everything in sight
in his career but has definitely been hurt
when the lights came on. His confidence
The current collection is ideal in that the
by poor quarterback play and non-existent
shaken, he re-emerged last year as a big-
offense is not wanting for any type of fit.
offensive direction. He also hurt himself with
play threat, and had the second highest
- THEN and NOW - OFFENSE average per catch on the team. Texas
out, and I, along with much of the internet,
had 8 receivers last year with 18 or more
became more excited by his prospects.
receptions, so nobody truly “broke out” but if you measure how a player responded
Now: He made a ton of noise the sum-
to his opportunities, Dorian had a great
mer he arrived and was one of the few to
year. His ability to run by corners was eye-
get off the bus in South Bend, where he
opening and he should see a ton of snaps
displayed the ability to get vertical versus
this season. Texas has three dangerous X
a good defense. His acceleration and top-
end speed were obviously under-appre-
Lorenzo Joe | sr - y/z receiver
ciated as a recruit. At one point I likened him to Sammy Coates -- a burner who had inconsistent hands. Then his sophomore
Then: The first commit of the 2014 class,
year he had a case of the drops so severe
Joe wouldn’t play receiver after his sopho-
it kept him off the field. Now he’s in recla-
more year until he enrolled at Texas. As a
mation mode to an even greater degree
quarterback in high school he actually had
than Leonard was before him. We hear his
a very solid arm, and as you’d expect from
confidence is much greater than last year
a future college receiver, he ran wild on
but for that to truly take root he’ll have to
teams. In doing so he flashed good speed
experience success in-game. They need
(ran sub 49 400) and more importantly,
to get him some looks in simple ‘pitch and
the ability to change directions. His intel-
catch’ situations before they try and take
ligence as a player was also evident.
the top off a defense.
Jerrod Heard | jr - y/z receiver Then: Heard was a highly touted quarterback and proven winner. He was on the scene early as a sophomore and showed elite running ability, as well as the ability to make plays with his arm. In high school I observed him often and many times mentioned the ball came off his hand funny and inconsistently. I never thought he’d switch positions, however, and until he arrived in Austin and sources questioned his arm, I didn’t think his arm was poor. Now: Credit to David Robinson (the same traimer who worked with Leonard) for being the only one predicting wide receiver for Heard’s future. It did become evident early in Heard’s redshirt freshman year he was better suited for receiver. He’s shown to be natural at times, and still learning others. He’s a very good vertical threat
Now: He’s been very reliable when given opportunities, but those chances have often been few and far between, sometimes due to injuries. He’s currently best known for being an above average blocker, but he’s more than that. That blocking ability should get him on the field whether on the outside or inside. Said a former teammate last June, “Collin and Joe are the two best receivers on the team.” Time to ball, Lorenzo.
John Burt | jr - z receiver Then: I liked him, did not love him, when I first saw his junior tape. I thought he was good, not great. Then I saw him in Oregon and learned he wasn’t his listed 6-foot-3. After watching him compete there, I remained in my thinking that he was okay. I saw his senior tape and thought he looked better -- he looked like a much more all around player, but I still wasn’t seeing the player he has the chance to become. Then his blazing track times started to get
April/May - 2017
- THEN and NOW - OFFENSE truth be told, the staff should have still done a better job getting him involved. He primarily did his damage on wheel routes where by the time corners were turning to run he was already passed them. That should have been paired with more imagination as teams took it away. He couldn’t be in a better offense now for his skill-set.
Lil’ Jordan Humphrey | so - x receiver Then: As simple of an evaluation as Johnson was, Humphrey had me vexed until this year’s spring game. That’s a long time to wonder where someone will play when normally I can tell you 30 seconds after seeing a player. The problem wasn’t that he didn’t have a fit, the “problem” was he had too many of them. In fairness to me, I did call him an offer and take long before he was offered, I just didn’t know what position he’d end up. He played running back, which at 6-foot-5 is about as common as Justin and b_pitt finding common ground. He also
and of course dangerous in the open field
swered when I saw a highlight from practice
where the vision he displayed as a running
on Twitter. It was a simple in-cut but it was
quarterback is alive and well. Heard doesn’t
made at full speed and off one foot. Even if
strike me as the slot this staff is looking for
he wasn’t ultra-quick, he was going to be a
- he’s not really one to go over the middle
star. But with that quickness, he looks like
- and will likely play Z most of the time. I
a future 1st rounder. People don’t realize
could see him getting sweeps from the slot,
it’s quickness at his size that makes Mike
Evans special. That’s the uncommon thing,
Collin Johnson | so - x receiver Then: Probably one of the easiest evalua-
not that they’re 6-foot-5.
Devin Duvernay | so - x receiver
tions I’ve come across: absurd length, ran
Then: What if Quan Cosby didn’t lose his
well, hands, catch radius, and an acrobat in
speed to baseball? This was a question I
the air. If he wasn’t open on the ground, he
often asked in relation to Duvernay. Like
was open above it. It was easy to forecast
Cosby, Duvernay wasn’t just fast. He had
him as a player who would need little time
good hands, toughness, the ability to go
to adjust to college ball. I just had one ques-
over the middle, and, oh yeah, then there’s
tion of him, which he answered early in his
the elite speed which magnifies the other
first spring on campus.
Now: That question was quickness/ability to
Now: That speed translated to the tune of
get in and out of his breaks and it was an-
20.6 yards per catch on 20 receptions, and
played receiver in what could be considered a future tight end body. Perhaps most interesting, he was very physical. His frame was narrow which gave me concerns over adding weight. If he could add weight, tight end would work, but so too would Fox end. Now: Just leave him at X, or Y if it gives you a blocking advantage, and let him spell Johnson for the next two years. He’s natural in his movements, and the long touchdown he caught against two first team secondary personnel might have been the play of the spring game. If you want to run 4-wide receivers and run the ball, those receivers better block and I think Humphrey will be a plus in that regard.
Davion Curtis | fr - y/z receiver Then: I was higher on Curtis than most,
especially the Tren’Davian Dickson stargazers. What’s that Tren? Oh, I’ll take a #2, thanks. Sorry about that. Curtis ran mostly
- THEN and NOW - OFFENSE simple vertical routes as a senior but that’s
was on the scene as a freshman where he
With the slot position running real routes in
because that’s all his quarterback could
had some bizarre stat line like 20 recep-
this offense he’ll get the chance to play a
throw. He was a better route runner than
tions with 8 of them going for touchdowns.
lot, and if he plays like he did in the spring
given credit for. I liked his build and work
He was a two-time commit to Texas after
game, a lot of people will have been wrong,
ethic coming out, but most importantly, the
Strong pulled the first offer to evaluate
kid could run.
further. I wondered if they’d re-extend the offer and when they did Reggie jumped
Damion Miller | fr - z receiver
Now: The previous staff almost pulled his
right back in the class. I felt like he didn’t
redshirt on a number of occasions last sea-
progress all that much from a sophomore
son, and then even approached him about
to senior. I thought he was solid, and could
Then: Easy evaluation as a sopho-
moving to corner. He’s a receiver, and he
play inside and out, but that he was more of
more; Miller had burst, acceleration, and
can play inside or outside. He just needs to
a U of H level recruit.
play-speed. As time wore on I had some
keep working and his time will come. When it does, I bet he takes advantage of it.
Reggie Hemphill-Mapps | fr - y receiver
questions about him, like route running and Now: After seeing his first ever practice
hands, but I liked the explosiveness he’ll
I began to think I undersold him. Every
bring to the roster. He also showed that he
time I looked up he was getting open. He
was much more than a single-trick vertical
showed good separation out of his breaks
threat as he also starred on defense his
and he was reliable. Fast forward to this
Then: This has the potential to be one of
spring and that’s the book on him -- he gets
my bigger misses in quite some time. He
open, and that’s a quarterback’s best friend.
Now: Of the three receiver positions, X has the least depth, especially with Burt’s hands still being a question. I predict Miller will end up redshirting, but his speed will translate well to the position, and his initial quickness should make him tough to handle in the screen game. I think he has a lot of potential as a route runner.
Jordan Pouncey | fr - z receiver Then: I was initially underwhelmed by his tape, but upon further viewings I picked up on some burst that gives him a chance to be a player, especially with his plus size. I heard he tends to fight the ball but I haven’t seen that with my own eyes. Now: The Florida native will likely redshirt with all the bodies ahead of him. I think he has the change of direction to become a good route runner, so a year learning and growing should have him ready to help fill in for the three departing seniors in the 2018 season. This group as a whole will be as productive as the primary parts of offensive line and quarterback will allow it. Between the Jerrod Heard
April/May - 2017
- THEN and NOW - OFFENSE home-run threats, chain movers, and speed guys, the staff can marry a lot of concepts, in what will serve as the visual explanation of Herman’s preferred Pro-Style Spread offense.
Andrew Beck | sr - tight end Then: The most interesting thing about this recruitment was the staff was unanimous about wanting him, but the offensive coaches wanted him for their purposes as much as the defensive coaches. Beck was a star inside linebacker who displayed good mobility and tackling ability. I saw a linebacker first and foremost, but I thought the staff’s evaluation was pretty telling of his overall ability. Now: He didn’t stick at linebacker long and made the switch after Charlie Strong arrived. He’s been adequate as a blocker for the most part -- struggling at times, making good blocks others -- but has really
A rmanti Foremanas a receiver. Part of been underutilized
that was scheme, part of that was lack of
creativity on coaches. He’s a solid receiver and I believe he’ll see his share of targets
etly had a solid camp. To make an impact
Now: Everything except the depth chart
this season, especially with Texas trying
in his career he’s going to have to work
screams he needs a redshirt. Because I’m
to sell a vision of TE usage to recruits. He
extremely hard because he’s way behind
expecting a lot of 10 personnel this season
needs to stay healthy for Texas to have any
the blocking and strength curve.
I think he’ll get it. Hopefully he does.
You never want to jump from two upper-
Reese Leitao | fr - tight end
chance to run its preferred personnel.
Garrett Gray | jr - tight end Then: A giant, white, athletic Hill Country receiver makes his way to Texas and....well, not much. Upon seeing Gray at camp it was
classmen to true freshmen, but here we Then: Loved him, especially as a late take,
Cade Brewer | fr - tight end
one-stop-shopping tight end. It seemed too good to be true, and it might have been.
abundantly clear he had some baseline
Then: Swiss Army knife who moved around
Now: The only question is whether his next
talent. Along with great size, he could run
quite a bit and proved to be an adept
number will have two digits or many more.
quite well. He lacked any nuance as a
blocker in space, an underappreciated skill.
receiver, mainly just running the very top of
More of a perimeter blocker at this point
the route tree in high school. Because of his
because of his lack of size and strength,
frame I wondered if tight end might be his
Brewer is built more like an h-back than in-
future. This was no Jake Oliver, narrow in
line tight end. Movement skills as a receiver
the shoulders, type build.
are probably his greatest trait at this point.
Now: He made his way to tight end and qui-
He’s loose hipped for his position and runs well in space.
Follow Inside Texas
April/May - 2017
Poona Ford (95)
lot of names, but only one likely head-
The 4i is difficult because you’re asking
finally settling on Texas A&M. He was solid
liner, the Texas defensive line has a
a player to be both an interior defensive
last year in a starting role -- at least when I
nice mix of complementary parts, veterans,
lineman as well as a defensive end. JJ Watt
watched the Aggies.
and talented youth.
can accomplish this because he’s too powerful for guards and too quick for tackles.
Charlie Strong was up against the clock and
Fit to scheme is one of the most important
That’s an unheard of combination, normally
reached out to a familiar name, the 5-foot-
aspects of evaluating, and because Charlie
it’s the other way around. The Watt’s and
11 Poona Ford from South Carolina. Be-
Strong recruited well with the design of
Bosa’s of the world do not grow on trees.
cause of his lack of length (though he has
fitting pieces to a multiple front, Texas
very long arms), Ford was rated a 3-star,
defensive coordinator Todd Orlando should
Though the ideal 4i is lacking, at least for
but his tape screamed 4-star because of
have the necessary pieces to field a plus
now, Texas should field a somewhat deep
his lateral movement, explosive hips, and
unit. That was at least the buzz coming out
and talented unit with enough positional
of spring ball.
overlap to fill the void.
If the staff is lacking anything, it’s a true 4i,
Poona Ford | sr - nt/4i
and as often discussed on Inside Texas,
Now: He was thrust into snaps as a true freshman and played well all things considered. His play has ranged over the years,
that’s a typically tough fit to find. A couple
Then: Defensive line recruiting in 2014 was
but he’s now permanently in the ‘solid
could grow into that role, but for now it will
in disarray because of the baton passing
starter’ camp and may even become more
likely be manned by veterans capable of
from Mack Brown to Charlie Strong. Trey
than that. Strong needed him bigger than
playing through savvy and strength, rather
Lealaimatafao mercifully de-committed
he probably should have gotten, and now
than ideal size, length, and versatility.
in favor of LSU. Zaycoven Henderson
Ford is peeling back to his more athletic
committed to every school in Texas before
and ideal size. I expect him to get some of
- THEN and NOW - DEFENSE that bounce back we saw as a high school
on muscle and get stronger, they start to
senior. His quickness should allow him to
become more in control of their move-
slant and stunt, and his technical ability
ment. The question then becomes will
makes it hard for o-linemen to handle
the player remain flexible. I had a feeling
him. If a linemen locks onto him, however,
Omenihu would. He came into his own
he struggles. He had a great camp and
over the course of his senior year, though I
should be a rock for this team.
lamented his best football would be played
Chris Nelson | jr - nt/4i
in the NFL. Now: I still believe that. In an effort to hit
Then: Similar to Ford, Strong went to a
the field early, Omenihu put on a bunch of
familiar prospect in the Florida product.
weight in short order. He went from 230 to
Star-gazers had a problem with the offer,
260 quickly, perhaps too quick. He flashed
but they usually don’t know what they’re
at times but has yet to have that breakout
looking at. Nelson’s junior tape was of
game. It remains to be seen how well he
him as a 260 pound linebacker bouncing
translates to 4i in extended play, or if the
around the field. That’s already a take in
staff plays him more at his natural posi-
many cases, assuming his body is headed
tion of SDE in a 4-man front. As a junior
to 300 pounds, which Nelson’s was. He
he’ll be quality depth, if not more, but I
would need time to develop but had real
anticipate him being a real player in his
senior year before getting a legitimate shot in the NFL.
Now: He was actually more ready to play
Jamari Chisolm | jr - nt/4i Then: Herman and Orlando wanted more length along the lines and the best way to address that immediately, save an elite specimen, is to go to the Juco ranks. There they discovered Chisholm and were able to get his signature on sigh-ning day. Now: See above. Chisholm has yet to hit campus, but when he does he’ll get every chance to prove he belongs. I’m not optimistic about major snaps but you can’t have enough big contributors across the line.
Jordan Elliott | so - nt/4i Then: I was going through some player size listings one day and saw Elliott listed as a 6-foot-5, 305 pound sophomore. I thought that was interesting so I took my
as a freshman than people realized. He arrived on campus around 300 pounds and the staff considered playing him, but only needed one of he and Ford. Ford was more technically sound so he got the call. And just like that, Texas has Nelson for two more years. That’s a good thing because he’s really starting to realize his potential. Though miscast as a 4i, he’s tough to run on and can anchor versus double teams. It’s a bit curious to me that he and Ford aren’t flip flopped but I’m sure Orlando has great reasons for that.
Charles Omenihu | jr - sde/4i Then: Omenihu is one of my favorite projections of all time. I stumbled across him on Twitter, saw his listed height, and had to check him out. As a 6-foot-5, 215 pound junior he showed some nice traits, but was obviously still getting used to his body. He was ranked 113th in the state or something like that. Taller players typically take longer to develop, but as they put
April/May - 2017
- THEN and NOW - DEFENSE ing one of the most organically hilarious moments in this site’s long history: watching the New Orleans local news as we awaited his announcement. Now: He needs to dedicate himself to the sport, if he does then his ceiling is very high. Reshaping his body would do him wonders. He’s probably a traditional gap shooting 3-tech. Should have redshirted.
Malcolm Roach | so - edge/4i Then: Came on the Texas radar the June prior to his senior year. When I heard he was possibly visiting for the Under the Lights camp I gave him a watch and was blown away. At the time I still had Melvin In-
gram from South Carolina on the brain and
curiosity to Hudl. That Hudl only had a 15 second clip, but it was damn impressive. He forced the fumble on the quarterback,
Gerald Wilbon | so - nt/4i
that’s who he reminded me of -- just a big, bouncy dude, whose position would likely (but not entirely) be predicated on where his
palmed it off the ground, then showed agil-
Then: After seeing his junior tape, and then
body went. I had him as a SDE or possibly
ity as he tried to evade tacklers. I immedi-
seeing his build in person, I declared him a
ately contacted my guy at U of H and he
future guard. Nobody can watch his junior
responded they already offered him. This
tape and tell me they were impressed. No-
Now: UT allowed us to go to practice and
was the Levine regime and they didn’t offer
body but Charlie Strong, of course. I don’t
even though the players were in shirts and
anyone that early. That was my introduc-
know what Wilbon will become; I do know
shorts it was easy to see Roach belonged.
tion to Elliott and I have been hooked on
his senior year was way more impressive
He moved with ease and was physical
his ability ever since. He eventually blew
on defense than I thought he was capable
even in that setting. He also showed strong
up, committed to all the schools Zaycoven
of. His quickness and lateral ability im-
hands. I like to evaluate but it’s not like I
Henderson didn’t have time to, and ended
proved greatly. We already knew he played
go out to evaluate hands -- if they jump
up at Texas. I had him as a 5-star level tal-
with man strength.
out to you then it’s a real trait. Roach had
ent because of his size, athleticism, ability
a fantastic freshman year, exceeding even
to play with pad level, and versatility. When
Now: Like Elliott he played in his first game
my high expectations, and has the chance
you can play NT-5-tech, you’re special.
as a freshman, and also like Elliott played
to become a star this year. He’s a bit out of
sparingly, though necessarily, throughout
position at 4i, but he’s athletic and aggres-
Now: Elliott was plenty good enough to
the season. He and Elliott have a Ford/
sive enough to pull it off. He plays with a
play in his first game as a freshman, but
Nelson relationship as they both take reps
chip on his shoulder and that goes a long
battled injuries and didn’t get a chance to
at NT/4i. Wilbon has a solid grip on second
way towards his overall make-up.
really shine. He’s up to 330 pounds and the
team NT and should see significant action
staff would like to slim him down to improve
this season. I’d definitely like to see him in
his quickness. Though he’s an interior
short yardage and goal-line situations.
player in the NFL, Texas needs him at 4i and it’s a testament to his ability he can pull it off. Right now he’s firmly entrenched on
D’Andre Christmas | so - nt/4i
Andrew Fitzgerald | rs fr - 4i Then: I was a big fan of his early on and ranked him the #3 SDE in his class behind Justin Madubuike and Isaiah Chambers.
the second team and he’ll play a ton this
Then: Known to the recruiting world for his
I felt he had great size, versatility, played
ability off the ball. Known to IT for inspir-
with a great motor, and used his hands well.
- THEN and NOW - DEFENSE His athleticism was also underrated and by
tape came out. He was also revenge for
the end of his senior year he was probably
a better prospect than Chambers. I was surprised Texas didn’t pursue harder at first
Now: Unfortunately the same knock on
but after Madubuike chose A&M he was
Lampkin applies to Daniels, and I don’t
next in line.
mean Spanish: it’s motivation to be great. He’s athletic enough to play 4i, but his
Now: Fitzgerald redshirted and that’s going
upside is as an athletic nose who should be
to pay big dividends for both he and the
a plus pass rusher for the position.
program in the coming years. As he gets stronger he should become a very good 4i
Marcel Southall | rs fr
option. He had a solid camp and I believe he’ll receive some rotational snaps this
Then: He burst on the scene out of
season. He has a very solid floor, I’ll be
nowhere and I hadn’t even heard of him
interested to see what his ceiling is.
when Oklahoma offered. I watched the tape and liked some baseline things, namely he
Taquon Graham | fr FR Taquon Graham Then: I was really high on him based off his sophomore film and even contacted him to tell him he was going to have every offer he wanted. He was incredibly raw but had good size and agility. He also looked flexible. Texas earned a hard fought recruitment over OU and TCU and he’ll have a chance to play early since he’s already 260 pounds. Now: I could see him being a valuable pass rusher they move around the line based on situation, though that’s likely a year away. A lot of people were down on his senior year when really they should be impressed he played through so many health issues, including in the state championship game where he didn’t even practice the week prior. The move here is to probably redshirt him and see where his body goes. I think he’ll eventually play at around 275.
Max Cummins | fr Then: I didn’t even hear about him until December of his senior year, his first to play defense. But what I saw impressed me and I was higher on his raw materials than most. Had he been a known commodity he would have been rated much higher, thus increasing the profile of his recruitment. You can’t teach his size and ability to run. Andrew Fitzgerald
Chris Daniels | rs fr - nt/4i
moved well. Upon further inquiry I learned his actual game play wasn’t the greatest
Then: I was a big fan of his based on junior
and he often had trouble disengaging from
film and then seeing his build on the camp
blockers or failed to attack them.
circuit up close. Defensive end was a stopgap on his way to playing the interior, but
Now: He needed a redshirt and received
as a junior he showed good athleticism for
one. He has solid size and athleticism but
the position. Rumors of him being a poor
he’ll have a long way to go to crack the
take because of an underwhelming senior
Now: Cummins has already put on some weight in hopes to be college ready, but he shouldn’t rush things and put the weight on slowly and functionally. If the much more technical Fitzgerald needed a redshirt, Cummins certainly will. He’s a violent player with some shock power, I think UT fans will be in for a surprise.
campaign were put to rest when his senior
April/May - 2017
e haven’t seen consistently
more difficult. The baseline athleti-
good coaching at the line-
cism required of the position has been
backer position in a long time in Austin,
raised but at the same time you still
but if Todd Orlando’s track record at
need the traits so often associated with
Houston and beyond is any indicator,
linebacker play: toughness, instincts,
we’re about to. Some of the previous
and a fundamental understanding of
athletes will rise to the occasion and
what the offense is trying to do to you.
become sound in traditional ways and
That last point comes from coaching,
others may not, but there are enough
sure, but also the player taking it upon
bodies at the position I feel confident
himself to study. You need guys who
love football in your linebacker room.
will field a quality group. A tangential point before I breakdown the current roster: the spread makes evaluating linebackers so much more difficult, especially with many spread
Naashon Hughes | sr - b-backer Then: I had the one-time gray-shirt commit as a real offer because of his size and athleticism. He played all three levels of defense in high school and was a good bas-
teams still wanting to pound the rock.
ketball player. His size to fluidity combina-
Finding run-stuffing linebackers who
tion was great then (it still is).
aren’t easily exploited in the passing game is becoming increasingly
Now: His lack of physicality lends to him disappearing for long stretches. Despite
his length, strength, and ability to bend he hasn’t been an effective pass rusher either. His size and athleticism are top-notch but football is about much more than that. He’s in a dogfight with McCulloch.
Edwin Freeman | jr - rover Then: A box safety who was always destined for linebacker because of his body type, Freeman showed exciting fluidity, closing speed, and the ability to strike. The question then is one that’s still relevant; is he an every down linebacker capable of stopping the run? Now: Freeman’s athleticism and quickness were on display last year and he put up some active numbers considering he only made five starts. nine tackles for loss, three sacks, and two interceptions suggests he can find the football. He had a solid camp but is second team behind Malik Jefferson. Rover is a blitzing position and Freeman
- THEN and NOW - DEFENSE has shown the ability to knife through
field more consistently as well as discard
Then: Was a high school wide receiver
traffic and make plays. If Jefferson doesn’t
blockers in the run-game. At times he’s
with great track times who ended up in
play well, Orlando will insert Freeman in a
played at a high level, other times he has
Juco. Pretty soon he won’t be in Kansas
not. This is a big year for him. He’ll put up
anymore and we’ll see how soon his game
stats in this defense but will he do the little
translates. Playing stiff Juco competition,
Johnson showed the ability to diagnose
Breckyn Hager | jr - mac Then: Hager played both linebacker and
Anthony Wheeler | jr - mac
defensive end at Westlake but I projected
and play bigger than he is. Having a chip on his shoulder the size of @Scipio’s goiter definitely helps.
him to end (fox) at Texas. I didn’t see the
Then: Was a great defensive end as a
linebacker traits required to play inside, but
sophomore but the Skyline coaching staff
Now: He’ll arrive in early June and I don’t
did see his ability to rush the passer with
wisely moved him to linebacker his junior
know what to expect. I know what the
maniacal effort. Strong and Bedford saw it
year. That year he struggled some but his
internet expects but I think those expecta-
differently and he started his career at line-
senior year was fantastic and he showed
tions are a little high and unfair. Texas is
backer, but then broke out as a sophomore
the ability to command the tackle box and
getting an athletic, passionate guy who
coming off the edge.
still play sideline to sideline.
can run and loves to hit, but nobody knows how fast he’ll catch on to the playbook. A
Now: Orlando returned him to ILB and
Now: Currently second team behind
lot of guys with experience on this level
frankly I don’t have a big problem with it. I
Hager, Wheeler hasn’t displayed the abil-
have a head start on him. I could see him
think he’s good when given a singular task
ity versus the run he did in high school.
eventually pressing for time at either mac
and with the blitzing nature of this defense
Frankly, I thought he was a pretty sound
or rover. He’ll be a fun addition to practice.
I think he’s going to make a lot of plays
linebacker coming in. He has a tremen-
in the backfield. I also have faith in the
dous work ethic and want-to and I think
coaching he’ll receive. Where it gets inter-
he’s going to be one of the biggest benefi-
esting to me is if others improve (Freeman,
ciaries of Orlando’s coaching.
Fowler, or Johnson) and the staff feels it can move him back to the edge, but for now he’s first team mac.
Gary Johnson | jr - mac or rover
Cameron Townsend | rs/so - rover Then: He looked electric as a sophomore, though he was only about 190 pounds at the time. Ridge Point played him as a sam where he worked hard to set the edge,
Malik Jefferson | jr - rover Then: Jefferson displayed elite athleticism on the field and then tested in ways that backed it up, but he still came in with questions about his ability to play a traditional linebacker role. The evaluation at the time was more for ‘fox/b-backer’ where he could rush from the edge or chase down ball carriers in the flat. Now: Since his arrival he’s played predominantly off the line of scrimmage and hasn’t shown the consistent play expected of him. At the same time, he’s made some plays only truly elite prospects can make. Metaphorically he can dunk from the free throw line but then might miss the easy lay-up. He has to finish plays in the back-
April/May - 2017
- THEN and NOW - DEFENSE play downhill but also chase in space. A redshirt would have been nice.
Demarco Boyd | rs/fr - mac Then: Fantastic high school player who made plays regardless where he lined up, and he lined up from nose tackle to running back. A passionate player with fantastic character both on and off the field. I’ve always had him as a Lorenzo Neal type, but there aren’t a lot of offenses utilizing fullbacks these days. Now: He’s been at linebacker since his arrival and is down the depth chart. He showed well last spring and wasn’t quite as limited in space as originally thought, but he has a lot of people with more athleticism and length ahead of him. Erick Fowler
Marqez Bimage | fr - b-backer
but really I liked his athleticism first and
looked real comfortable running around
foremost. He didn’t grow much between
out there, and his physicality was a wel-
his sophomore year and graduation, and
likened him to Erick Fowler because of his
either. Townsend was a dense 6-foot-o,
The current staff has him at b-backer and
I didn’t have him rated as high as Fowler,
200 pounder with a questionable fit upon
I think he’s going to end up being stellar
his arrival at Texas.
in that role. My lone question will be the
Now: Townsend loves working out and
ability to bend and turn the corner to get
he was able to put on 20 pounds rather
after the passer.
year was nothing short of stellar as he
Erick Fowler | so - mac
Like I did with Fowler, I’ve wondered if he
ability off the edge and his explosive hips.
I’m not sure he got much more athletic
quickly but he has a lot of players ahead of him and I still question his fit. He’s built more like a S/LB hybrid.
Jeffrey McCulloch | so - b-backer
Then: Was on my radar as a junior and I
but was a fan who always heard great things about him from my Brenham and University of Houston sources. His senior exhibited maybe the state’s best first step.
Then: Played an edge role similar to Jefferson and McCulloch, but had a fantastic build for ILB. He could play the fox/b-
ends up playing ILB. Now: Texas is getting a high character player who’s build will near 6-foot-3, 250 pounds (if they want him that big). He’s
Then: He was predominantly an edge
backer role but his NFL upside is playing
player with great power and strong hands.
inside. Great build for it, incredible first
He also had good short area quickness
step, and physical.
the ball. Because of depth he should be
he was hard to run against. I had him as a
Now: Started off his career at fox but has
to play as a freshman.
fox/b-backer coming out.
since been moved to where he belongs.
able to redshirt but he’s advanced enough
and because of his thick build and big butt
He’s flashed exciting upside in practice; Now: Strong played him inside last year
his physicality and athleticism certainly
and he looked very good at time, playing
translate, the staff just needs to get him
better in space than I anticipated. I didn’t
playing rather than thinking. He has the
think he’d be bad in that regard, but he
chance to be special because he can
naturally strong, bends well, and closes on
As you can see Orlando has a lot of options to work with, especially with the juniors and sophomores. It will be interesting to see how the snaps and positions shake out because this staff doesn’t care one bit
Kris Boyd Antwuan Davis | sr - nickel
a big-time steal on their hands. After the
corner-not-quite-a-safety so I figured him for
coaching change of 2014, the coaches
nickel. He’s played quite a bit, but normally
Then: Came into high school with insane
were still high on him, especially after he
not in a position that matches his skill-set.
measurables like a 10.3 100 meters and 380 pound bench press. He’s obviously a very tightly wound athlete. Davis was also physical, but the questions were big ones; could his speed overcome his stiffness, and could he improve his ball skills? It’s one thing to run with someone, can you make a play on the ball? If he couldn’t overcome
showed the mental aptitude to play early. He had a huge game versus UCLA and
Now: After playing corner last year, Bonney
some good ones following that but all too
is now second team safety. He’s a positive
frequently disappeared. Last season he
in the locker-room but will likely be depth for
looked comfortable playing near the LOS.
the duration of his career.
Now: Hall was making waves with Herman
Deshon Elliott | jr - safety
early in camp before tearing his hamstring and missing the remainder of practices.
Then: I spent a lot of time correcting
became a possibility, if not certainty.
He profiles as a good downhill tackler and
those who thought Elliott was going to be
that’s something the Texas staff puts an em-
a linebacker. All bodies are different and
Now: Davis has been jumped by the
phasis on. His injury has perhaps given way
just because he was 205 coming out, it
to Brandon Jones but that will be decided at
didn’t mean he’d be 230 after some time
a later date.
on campus. On top of it, Elliott showed the
his stiffness, then a move to nickel or safety
corners of the class of 2015. He hasn’t necessarily been a liability, but he has yet to truly breakout. He’s now a back-up nickel to PJ Locke. He would start for a great many schools.
John Bonney | jr - safety
movement skills to remain in the secondary. A friend of mine who had a cup of coffee in the NFL with the Bills and Packers told me
Then: A surprise take, especially in a load-
he thought Elliott was a future early round
Jason Hall | sr - safety
ed class of 2014. I questioned the staff at
draft pick. I was very high on him before
the time and heard back that they liked his
hearing that, even more so after. Since ar-
Then: Had a big senior year that led the
versatility. That versatility made for an inter-
riving to Texas, Elliott has been a bit slow to
esting evaluation. I had him as not-quite-a-
take off. He’s played slower than he actually
former-former Texas staff to think they had
- THEN and NOW - DEFENSE is because he’s been caught processing
come on late.
Kris Boyd | jr - corner
Now: He’s considered one of the two or
Then: One of the best athletes in the
and taking bad steps. Now: Those days appear to be behind El-
three best players on defense and there
liott, and if he starts playing fast, you’re not
are high expectations for him. I have
going to want to be a wide receiver coming
high expectations for Locke. He’s one of
across his bow. One thing that translated
the hardest workers on the team, if not
early on was Elliott’s striking power. He
the hardest, and I think that’s about to be
had a breakout camp, now we just need to
see it on Saturdays in the fall. He’s turned out to be a great locker-room presence.
PJ Locke | jr - nickel
CB Davante Davis | jr - corner Then: Davis exhibited a great build and fluid movement skills, as well as the ability
Then: When Texas lost Tim Irvin to
to coil and strike. I always had him figured
Auburn, Vance Bedford went for a drive to
for safety because in the five man 2015
clear his mind. He found himself in Beau-
class I thought that was the best way to
mont where he happened upon a young
get all five on the field at some point. He
man with a nice frame.
showed the ability to play very early, and
Bedford made small talk like, “any good
beat out Kris Boyd at corner for a time.
country who was behind on developing skills for corner because of his time spent on offense. A fantastic build and a dog mentality, Boyd’s raw upside was as high as just about any player out there. Now: He’s flashed the type of elite ability we know he has, but he’s had his struggles as well, which should have been expected given his time in high school. He’s the best defensive back on the team from a raw tools perspective. Boyd’s always going to give a little back to the other team via penalties or brain lapses, but he’ll more than make up for it to Texas. I still predict him being an early round draft pick, maybe as soon as next year.
CB Holton Hill | jr - corner Then: He had an extraordinary senior year (13 picks!) that displayed a greater athleticism than I initially anticipated. I knew he was fluid and technical, but it turned out he was a very above average athlete too. Stardom was predicted and that looked like his fate after his freshman season. We know what happened last year. Every time he began to play well, he’d miss the next game. He could never get in a groove. Now: He’s been Herman’s greatest reclamation project so far and is entrenched as
BBQ joints around here” and “what about
After a fine freshman year he had a con-
Cajun?” The young man said, my football
siderable sophomore slump.
team goes to Possum’s BBQ for Friday meals. “Oh, you play football?” And thus
Now: He had a camp as quiet as he is;
Texas ended up with PJ Locke.
being dinged up didn’t help. He’s still battling with Boyd but those in the know
There’s some truth to this story. Locke had
understand that’s Boyd’s job to lose. Davis
a great senior year. His quickness jumped
could very well play safety but the depth
off the screen, as did his fluid hips. He was
concerns are at corner so don’t expect him
tailor made to play nickel. Locke started
nine games last year and really started to
a starter. He’s looked like the old Reverend Holton Heat.
Brandon Jones | so - safety Then: Jones was a high four-star with five-star tape. Athletically and size-wise he has some Jamal Adams to him. He could cover extremely well for a safety, and even demonstrated offensive ability. He was also a great striker.
April/May - 2017
- THEN and NOW - DEFENSE Now: Every thing that was expected of
Now: As mentioned there are depth issues
corner. The staff has asked him to come
him coming out of high school is still on
at corner and Duvernay will have every
in between 190-195 pounds and he’s right
the table. The light seems to have at least
chance to see the field.
between that now, even after running
flickered this spring, if not fully turned on. He and Jason Hall will have a spirited fall
Josh Thompson | fr - corner
Chris Brown | fr/rs - safety
Then: Showed nice match-up ability as
track. He’s gives me a Cedric Griffin vibe as a player.
Kobe Boyce | fr - corner
a junior cornerback and was on Strong’s radar early. Thompson actually visited with
Then: Boyce was a bit late to the scene;
Then: Chris had extremely high football
Brandon Jones a time or two, and this
getting his first offers last spring. It didn’t
character. On top of being hard-nosed,
helped UT tremendously when it came
take him long to start to get quality offers
he had great short area quickness and is
once his film made the rounds. His great-
a fearless hitter. He also had underrated
est trait is foot quickness and swivel hips.
If matched with technical ability, a player like him can be put to the field with minimal
Now: His hitting and diagnostic skills were
help. Boyce also illustrated athleticism on
on display in the spring game. There’s
more where that came from, but safety depth is pretty crowded. I have high hopes
Now: Like Thompson, Boyce will be in
for him over the course of his career, but
competition to play from day-1. If he and
he might be quiet - save for special teams
Thompson are even, Boyce needs to red-
- this season.
shirt because his frame is nowhere near as advanced as Thompson’s.
Eric Cuffee | fr/rs - corner
Montrell Estelle | fr - safety
Then: A great build with pretty quick feet and a keen fashion sense, the big knock
Then: A two way player in high school who
on Cuffee was physicality and projection. If
could play either side of the ball in college.
he wasn’t physical enough for corner how
He reminded me of the East Texas version
would he play safety or nickel if corner
of Mykkele Thompson. Estell was always
didn’t work out?
the best athlete on the field, but he was besting his competition with his insane
Now: We saw him in his first action in the
coordination as much as raw athleticism. I
spring game and it went about as well as
have him pegged for a ball-hawking safety.
you might expect when up against Collin Johnson. I don’t expect him to win that match-up, but I still want to see him more
Now: With his range, Cover-1 would be
perfect for him, especially if paired with
physical. Texas needs depth at corner so Cuffee should play next season.
Donovan Duvernay | fr/rs - corner
someone physical like Brown, Elliott, or time to flip him from TCU. That flip was
Jones. I anticipate he’ll redshirt which will
glorious behind the scenes because I
be ideal for his physical development.
know how much it pissed Gary Patterson off. Too much stress can induce labor
This is a very interesting mix with more
Then: He was a nice, if undersized player,
and that dam almost broke. Thompson’s
than a pinch of future NFL talent. It’s up to
who would likely be playing at a Group of
senior year was nothing short of stellar as
them to put it together but early returns are
Five school if not for his brother. I say that
he moved seamlessly into the role Jones
with no mean intentions, he’s a great kid.
Since he’s been on campus I’ve heard his athleticism matches up with others.
Now: Thompson will start his career at
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NEWS AND NOTES By Joe C
SHAKA SMART TALKS COLEMAN, ALLEN, AND ONE-AND-DONES
ollowing the addition of Oak Hill (VA) point guard
A strong performance in an open scrimmage last fall
Matt Coleman, who officially signed with Texas this
showed a lot of promise that Texas would have to wait
spring, head coach Shaka Smart called Coleman’s addi-
one year to see on the court.
tion part of “an important stretch of days for us.” Coleman joins the 2017 class, but Smart is not through recruit-
“With those four plus Dylan, plus some others that we
ing this spring as the Longhorns are in the mix for elite
may add as the spring goes on, really excited about what
recruit Mohamed Bamba.
our team’s going to look like and very, very excited about
The official addition of Coleman, who joins Houston Westfield guard Jase Febres, Aldine Davis forward Royce Hamm and Minneapolis (MN) Cristo Rey Jesuit forward Jericho Simms in the 2017 class, brings a bona fide ball handler to Texas, something they sorely missed during the Longhorns’ recent 11-22 season. “Really, really excited about the signing of Matt Coleman today as an addition to our 2017 class,” Smart said. “We now have four guys coming in that
Matt Coleman | photo courtesy of ozarksportszone.com
we’re very, very excited about.” the look of the way that our guys have approached this There are two more additions, one assured and one
offseason,” Smart said. “When you combine the new with
possible, to Texas’ 2017 class. In Smart’s eyes, junior
the returning guys, looking forward to seeing how that is.”
transfer Dylan Osetkowski is part of this class as the upcoming season will be his first while eligible at Texas.
After the departure of Isaiah Taylor last spring, Texas
Smart said he worked out with Osetkowski before every
was left without a true point guard during the 2017-2018
game last season in order to keep both of them fresh
season. The ball handling duties were thrown on sopho-
mores Eric Davis and Kerwin Roach, and freshman Andrew Jones.
Osetkowski, a 6-foot-9, 250 pound forward from Tulane,
has been the topic of conversation a lot during his time at
Over the course of the season, the lack of familiarity
Texas even though he never left the bench this past year.
those three had with the position became glaring. Texas
struggled to get its offense going because the ball handlers seemed like they could never get into a groove and were constantly bothered out of their comfort zone. With a true point guard joining the roster, Smart knows expectations will be high for the Virginia freshman. He also knows he has the capability to do well in his first year. “Matt becomes one of the perimeter players on our team that is really going to drive the success that we want to have,” Smart said. “Matt Coleman is a pure point guard. He orchestrates offense, he gets other guys shots, he makes everyone around him better. He’s one of those guys when he’s on the floor, anyone else playing with him takes a step forward.” Coleman headlines the class, but he is joined by three others who signed during the fall signing period. Febres, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, chose Texas over Stanford, Baylor and Texas A&M. Smart complimented both his shooting ability and
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athletic ability. He also added Febres had a “terrific mind” and came from a very athletic background. Hamm is a 6-foot-8 forward Smart described as “tough and physical.” Simms is a 6-foot-9 forward who Smart said can “really play a variety of positions.” Smart stressed that Simms would be able to do “some terrific things” once he adjusts to the speed of the college game. The other aforementioned addition that Texas could make in the 2017 class is Bamba. Bamba hails from New York City, but attends the small Eastern Pennsylvania prep school. With the departure of Jarrett Allen, Smart now looks to add one one-and-done to replace another. Texas is competing against college basketball heavyweights for Bamba’s signature, including Michigan, Kentucky and Duke. Smart has a relationship with Bamba not only from the recruiting process, but also through being Bamba’s head coach with the USA Basketball U18 National Team along with Coleman, Allen and current Longhorn James Banks.
www.insidetexas.com April/May - 2017
PS NEWS AND NOTES
By NCAA rule, Smart is not allowed to comment on
Though Smart has to prepare like he will have Jones
Bamba, an unsigned prospect. He was asked, however,
next season, he’s not denying the possibility of not hav-
what Texas is looking to add with that last spot in the
Texas 2017 class that is assuredly reserved for the NYC big man.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to coach him next year,” Smart said. “Obviously, at the end of the day, like
“We’re looking for a big that can really fit who we want
anyone else, it’s up to a young man and his family what
to be on and off the court,” Smart said. “It’s the same
they do. I think he really wants to see where he stacks up
thing we look for at any position. We’re excited about the
and get some great experience from some workouts with
returning bigs we have here, James and Dylan, we’re
some NBA teams.”
excited. As I mentioned, Jericho and Royce are coming in at 6’8” and 6’9”. With losing Jarrett there is a spot
The challenge in recruiting elite one-and-done players is
there. We’re going to continue to recruit, and we feel like
one Smart said he expected to deal with at a place like
we have a lot to offer.”
Texas. He wants and often needs them, but also wants to make sure he recruits players who will stay in the pro-
Smart used his departing big man as an example other
gram for three to four years and help build his program.
one-and-done big men could look to at Texas. “We feel
Either way, Smart said he wants to build his players to
like Jarrett is a really, really good testament to what
meet program and personal goals.
happens if you come in here and you work hard, you develop, you grow, you follow our plan, and we’re going
“I think one of the things that you have to understand is
to keep working at it,” Smart said.
when you recruit these types of guys that have that type of talent, what goes along with that is they’re also going
In addition to losing Allen and courting Bamba, Smart is
to have aspirations to be highly successful even beyond
also preparing for the possibility he will be without fresh-
college,” Smart said. “I think it’s unrealistic to want one
man guard Andrew Jones next season. Jones declared
without the other, so what you try to do is you try to help
himself eligible for the NBA Draft but did not hire an
them become the very best players they can in the time
agent, leaving open the possibility he could return next
that they’re with you.”
year. It’s a challenge and something Smart admitted is much Although Jones is preparing for NBA Draft workouts,
different than what he had to deal with at VCU. It’s
Smart has maintained a strong relationship with the
caused him to create a new plan, considering he only
Irving native, communicating with Andrew and his father
had one player at VCU leave early for the NBA.
constantly. “I think you have to recruit a mix, Smart said. “You’ve got “He’s been in Cooley every day working out with our
to recruit some guys that have the talent and aspirations
guys, working out with (strength and conditioning) coach
where they won’t probably be with you for much longer
(Daniel) Roose and the strength coach,” Smart said.
than a year or two. Then, you also want to recruit some
“He’s lifting weights right now as we speak. He’s very
guys that hopefully you have for four years, but even
engaged with our team and our guys. We’ve put certain
those guys, sometimes when they come in, have the
things in place just as a team to move forward off the
aspirations of leaving college early.”
court. He’s been really good about that.”
5/19/11 2:17:09 PM
TEXAS RAIDS OKLAHOM
A trio of 4-Star talents from Oklahoma all pledge to the Longh involved in supporting the run both with his ability to hit isolated WRs down the field and with his legs in the QB option game. He reminds us of a slightly slowertriggered J.T. Barrett and as he gains comfort with progressions and gains weight he might have similar upside in Herman’s offense due to his dual-threat skill set. While Thompson is not a guy that is going to blow you away with his physical tools, he accounted for 52 total touchdowns this past year with a 32-to-4 touchdown to intercepWill Gallagher/IT
he second Southmoore,
“The fit, the relationship with the
Oklahoma, quarterback Casey
coaches, their current situation at
Thompson was offered by UT it
QB, how early can I come in and
was easy to feel good about the
compete,” were some of the rea-
Longhorns’ chances of landing the
sons he gave IT. “I’m not scared of
dual threat, despite his ties to the
competition though and just have to
weigh out all the pros and cons of each school.”
quarterback from across the coun-
Texas fit all those categories and
try, rather than the one who lived in
Thompson will now make Austin his
its backyard and spent a lot of time
While he is labeled a dual-threat quarterback, he doesn’t necessarily have blazing straight line speed, but he is able to buy himself time and extend plays with his feet, and he can make tacklers miss when he
He gets the ball out of his hand pretty quick and seems to make his living off of the short and intermedi-
in its film room. Thompson has a nice assortment of The 6-foot-2, 180-pound signal-
tools that include a strong arm and
caller is the son of former Sooners’
some nice accuracy when throwing
QB Charles Thompson. But Casey
down the field and working against
wanted to forge his own path and
coverage. The Southmoore offense
chose UT over North Carolina,
appears to have been largely a “run
Miami, Oregon, Oklahoma State,
it, then throw it deep off play-action”
Tennessee, and OU.
system where Thompson was
pulls the ball down and takes off.
Fortunately for Texas, OU chose a
tion ratio, so he takes care of the
ate passes, so we wonder about his ability to push the ball down the field a bit. His passion for football in a nutshell: “I love football. I eat, breathe, and sleep football. I watch film every day.”
MA FOR KEY RECRUITS
horns as Tom Herman takes the fight to OU’s backyard.
by IT Staff
irst, Herman went into Okla-
prestige. Rising committed to the
Farrelly brothers fun on the Texas
homa to secure Sooner legacy
more prestigious Oklahoma not too
Casey Thompson’s committment to
long after that conversation.
the burnt orange and white.
Eric received a text from a subscribRising was pretty much out-of-sight,
er friend who said, “Y’all are always
Then, he and offensive coordinator
out-of-mind at that point and when
on top of things but these kind of
Tim Beck tried to go after Oklaho-
we heard he was visiting Texas
commits are my favorite. It’s like a
ma’s other QB prize, 2018 Newbury Park (CA)’s Cameron Rising. They succeeded, as Rising flipped from Oklahoma to Texas While Thompson to Texas was always a very possible scenario, the out-of-the-blue commitment of Rising caught us all off guard. Last year about this same time noted the absence of elite in-state quarterback options. We liked what we heard about Tanner Mordecai, but he was largely unknown. I liked Spencer Sanders but didn’t know a whole lot about him. And that’s about it. photo courtesy of Michael Coons/Acorn Newspapers
At that point last year Eric Nahlin called his go-to quarterback source to see if there was anyone we were
-- just a day after Casey Thompson
surprise party.” Eric responded, “It’s
missing. After offering thoughts on
committed to the Longhorns -- we
fun for us too. I don’t mind being
Mordecai and Sanders he said, “I
didn’t really pay too close attention.
way behind as long as it doesn’t
really, really like Cameron Rising and Justin Rogers.”
happen too often.” It figured that the rather vocal Sooner commit was visiting as a favor
What made the Rising commitment
He let us know Rising was from Cali-
to his father. Maybe he did, but his
so fun -- aside from landing OU’s
fornia and #1 on their board along
commitment announcement made
prized stud quarterback -- was that
with Rogers, and while he felt there
it clear how quickly he fell in love
it came out of nowhere and caught
was a shot with Rising, he thought
with UT. What was a Shyamalanian
everybody by surprise. What a day
he’d end up at a school with more
plot twist for Sooner fans turned into
April/May - 2017
TEXAS RAIDS OKLAHOMA lineman, who missed the Texas Spring game. But that didn’t matter. “It doesn’t matter if I stay home or leave the state,” Tatum said that afternoon. “It’ll be based off the people and coaches.” As it happens those people and coaches are Longhorns. Herman has shown the uncanny ability to manufacture momentum without taking a snap. Especially with outof-state prospects. Just imagine when the in-state guys start jumping on board. And they better start soon before the ship fills up.
photo courtesy Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman
exas got its third steal from
his leaders for the longest time, but
Oklahoma in two weeks with
a strong foundational relationship
the addition of 2018 Putnam City
built by Texas defensive line coach
(OKC) 4-star DE Ron Tatum.
Oscar Giles, and possibly a late surge from current players on social
This latest pledge continues the
media seemed to seal the deal.
burnt orange wave of momentum on Bob Stoops’ home turf and
“It was a great visit,” said Tatum,
sends a message to their rivals
about his recent trip to the 40 Acres.
north of the Red River -- UT isn’t
“Right now they’re one of my top
playing around in this recruiting
schools. Loved the coaches, facili-
ties, the players; it was all great.”
At 6-foot-4.5, 270 pounds, he’s
“Right now, coach Giles probably
one of the nation’s top defense
calls me or texts me everyday. I’ve
end prospects and held offers from
connected with him. I like it.”
Alabama, Georgia, Miami, TCU, and OU.
Even two months ago, Texas had made a lasting impression on the
The Sooners were thought to be
one of the nation’s top defensive
Tatum is the ideal kind of defensive lineman to fit into Orlando’s aggressive scheme. He’s big at around 6-foot-4.5, 270, but more importantly he’s explosive and can move laterally with ease as well. That all projects him to 4i-technique defensive end quite nicely but also is a guy that could swing inside to defensive tackle in even fronts like Texas’ current 2-4 package or basically anywhere that Orlando wanted him in order to create matchup problems. Every scheme wants and needs guys that can move like this at this size with this kind of length.
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Published on May 14, 2017
We recap the Spring Game, Eric Nahlin analyzes the current state of the roster, Mike Blackwell talks Malik Jefferson and Joe Cook talks to S...