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THE FUTURE IS NOW After a dominant spring camp, Collin Johnson is poised to have a breakout year in 2017.


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2017 Spring Game |



Joe Cook

Texas fans get their first look at Herman’s Longhorns.

5 Quick Thoughts |

by Ian



Ian’s initial thoughts after watching the spring game.

Return of the Predator? |


Mike Blackwell

Malik Jefferson will be key to improvement on defense in 2017.

Then and Now - Offense | Then and Now - Defense



Eric Nahlin


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 |



IT Staff

Herman pulls three huge verbals away from Bob Stoops and the Sooners.


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inside texas

B:10.75 in T:10.5 in





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

defense’s total.

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.


inside texas

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


inside texas

ele on a read play.


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 won’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.

boundary safety.

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

lost anyways.

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.


inside texas

#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.

Sam Ehlinger


inside texas

#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.

Colin Johnson

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

next season.

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.

Shane Buechele


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Follow Inside Texas


Mike Blackwell

Shane Buechele



inside texas


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

Predator. Again.

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

the football.

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.


inside texas

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.”

his trade.

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




inside texas





Shane Buechele


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.

back in-state.

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


inside texas


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-

to be.

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

but Peyton?

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

Sam Ehlinger

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-



inside texas

ing room.

Advantage Texas; advantage Texas fans.



Toneil Carter


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-

Chris Warren

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.

Darius Anderson.

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

inside texas

- 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

school position.

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

than unforeseen.

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

the tackles.

Join the Conversation

as well as willingness to run through trash.

Kyle Porter 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

developmental curve.

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


inside texas

- 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-

Jake McMillon

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

Denzel Okafor

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.

it relentlessly.

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’

inside texas


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.

Patrick Hudson

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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inside texas

Belong Here.

April/May - 2017



Armanti Foreman


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

defensive backs.


inside texas

- 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

John Burt

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

Devin Duvernay

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


inside texas

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

especially me.

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

senior year.

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

Andrew Beck

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.

inside texas

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

violent nature.

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


inside texas

- 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

upside long-term.

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

Jordan Elliott

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-

Chris Nelson

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

3-tech long-term.

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.


inside texas

- 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

DuVonta Lampkin.

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



Jeffrey McCulloch


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

inside texas

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,

things right?

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-

Breckyn Hager

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

comed sight.

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


inside texas

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


inside texas

- 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

PJ Locke

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

to move.

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.

ball skills.

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

special teams.

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

Deshon Elliott

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

inside texas


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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

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-

and engaged.

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

inside 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

Join the Conversation

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. April/May - 2017




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

ing him.

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.”


inside texas

Kraken_Texas_mechanical.indd 1

5/19/11 2:17:09 PM


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

in-state Sooners.

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

inside texas


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.”


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

it was.

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

inside texas

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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inside texas

Inside Texas 2017 Spring Issue  

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...

Inside Texas 2017 Spring Issue  

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...