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Texas Football Open Practice Report Day 1

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I spent most of my time watching the DTs, DEs, and LBs in position drills before the live portion where there was glorified scrimmaging (although the hit by Christian Scott on Greg Smith on the opening play was as real as it gets).

It was shells and shorts, but I could see who was in shape, moving well, how we were deployed, and who was getting the most coaching attention.

I tend to watch line play and the defenders. So you'll get a different perspective than the "all of the receivers ran crisp routes" crowd.

DTs

Tolly and the DTs were about 15 feet from me, so I had a decent look at what we were doing. They were working on speed rush from a 3 technique, ball get off, and practicing a rip/swim sequence. Tolly is a guy you would love to play for. I saw more meaningful coaching in fifteen minutes than I got in entire years of high school. Simultaneously encouraging and demanding and the kids hang on every word. Just a great no-bullshit guy.

Calvin Howell looks surprisingly lean. He's in shape and looks to be around 280. More likely to be effective taking a gap than owning space.

Kheeston Randall is clearly the lead dog in the pack and he looks the part. One of the three or four most important players on the football team. Light a candle for his health.

Taylor Bible is fat and it's all in his belly. Still quick considering that. Good first step. I'm not sure he can give us five hard plays in a row right now though. He's a force if he makes his mind up to change his body composition and sheds 25. I hope he doesn't go all Sonny Davis.

Greg Daniels is playing at DT already and he's undersized, but his frame is big, he has a great body, and his physical stature reminds me of a young Cory Redding. He'll carry 280-290 eventually with zero problems. I'm intrigued by what he will be after a redshirt and a couple of years of seasoning. Seeing him in person only reinforced my opinion that he was a quality take.

Kyle Kriegel is a tall, rangy kid. He's not without physical talent and he does stay low for a tall guy, which suggests hip bend which, combined with active feet, makes me wonder if he couldn't make a paycheck blocking DEs one day. In any event, I don't see him helping us substantively this year.

Tyrell Higgins didn't really stand out, good or bad. He has gotten noticeably bigger.

De'Aires Cotton needs work on his body. Not as big as I'd expected. I didn't see anything that argued against my notion that he's a redshirt.

Ashton Dorsey has a first step but, like Cotton, his body is immature. He was the first freshman in the rotation to go live in scrimmage and I didn't take that as a coincidence.

LBs

Muschamp was sporting a shirt that said BALL HAWK on the front with a vicious hawk clutching a football in its talons on the back. It would have looked awesome painted on the hood of a '84 Camaro.

Needless to say, I want one.

Forty seconds into a shadow-the-ballcarrier tackle drill, a young linebacker made a sloppy tackle attempt and didn't get his head across the bow prompting Muschamp to emit visible steam from his ears and correct the transgressor "GET YOUR HEAD UP!" He then fixed the rest of the LBs with a withering glare as if to say "Don't test me to today or I will see that all of you die running sprints."

The Ball Hawk logo on his shirt then animated and carried off Patrick Nkwopara.

Keenan Robinson is jacked. He's a legit 240 and still runs well. I'm expecting a big year.

Emmanuel Acho isn't as tall as Keenan, but he's put on good weight just like Robinson has. Still the most adept guy at taking a gap in the entire LB corps. Would have a had a sack on an inside blitz during scrimmage work, blowing by the interior OL like they were statues. MF'er is sudden.

Jared Norton looked good. He was running around with abandon, he brings some pop in his pads, and didn't show any lingering effects from the injury. He and Earnest will have a nice battle. Norton really does give you a physical presence inside though you don't want him covering a back in the flat.

Dustin Earnest looks lean and fit. I'd be surprised if he's over 230. Another senior with the chance to come up big.

Aaron Benson is already much thicker than he was in high school. He's put on a good 20-25 pounds of good weight. I credit good big breakfasts. They also worked him with the DE group - mostly as part of a situational package. He has a first step off of the corner, but he received a lot of instruction which I take as a good sign of his value, but also that he's pretty raw.

Dravannti Johnson worked with the LBs, but did some DE time for pass rushing packages. A core member of the First Off Of The Bus crew. He has a ton of athleticism, but also a bit of a tweener. I expect him to play a solid situational pass rush role for us.

Tariq Allen appeared to be held out though he did suit out.

Tevin Jackson will be carrying 240+ within two years. Like the rest of the LBs, he's adjusting to the finer points of the game and, like Aaron Benson, received a lot patient instruction from Muschamp.

Ryan Roberson redistributed his body and looks much leaner. He packs a punch, but the old ones in front of him are studs and the young ones behind him are more talented.

Jordan Hicks looks good. Good frame, looks to be around 220, will be a special teams demon for us, at minimum. #33 can really run and Muschamp spent very little time correcting him though he was looking. Very technically sound given his age.

Patrick Nkwopara still looks like Lord Dark Helmet out there.

DEs

This group is a NFL combine drill. Easily our best position in terms of quality starters and depth that extends three deep.

Alex Okafor is carved from granite. Now that's how you carry 265 pounds. If you told me he played DE for the Carolina Panthers, I'd nod and ask if he has ever fought Steve Smith.

Eddie Jones still has an amazing burst for a 34 year old. Looks great, happy, and healthy.

Tevin Mims worked solely with the DEs. A solid player lost in the shuffle of DE depth.

Jackson Jeffcoat looks mature beyond his years and was outstanding going live. Great ability to use his hands and as technical as you'd expect Jim Jeffcoat's son to be. He will play this year.

Reggie Wilson is a shorter, thicker athlete than Jeffcoat and reminds me a lot of Orakpo (once he matured). The athletic ability is clear, but he's not as polished as Jeffcoat. I'm very curious to see him in pads.

Sam Acho is the leader of the Texas Longhorns, not just the D. He played quite a bit inside and I expect him to log considerable time at DT, if only for pass rush packages.

Random observations:

The first team OL:

OT Mitchell
OG Walters
C Snow
OG Huey
OT Hix

Mason Walters thinks someone on the defense stole something from him.

Eryon Barnett looks like he's already passed up on the depth chart by freshmen.

It looks like we currently favor a three back rotation of Fozzy, Tre, Cody.

Williams dropped an easy pass and then grabbed a long TD.

Kirkendoll gave up on a deep route where he waxed Chykie Brown, making it look like a Gilbert overthrow.

Chiles had a volleyball set in the flat.

Tre Hopkins is already running 2nd team at LT. Fantastic feet. He could play any position on the OL.

Both Vaccaro and Scott were more comfortable in man coverage than I expected.

6-6 Garrett Porter is playing 2nd team center. He looked pretty comfortable though.

Dominique Jones is a player at TE. He is a really solid blocker and he accounted for himself well against some elite DEs. Don't expect stats from him, but this is a guy you want on your team.

Greg Smith really has lost a lot of weight and is moving better. I still think he's a human volleyball set as a receiver until proven otherwise, but the weight loss will help his blocking and feet from the H-back position as he leads in the hole or seeks out blockers in space on the edge.

We really worked hard on an offensive set with twins right, strong left, H-back in the wing behind the TE.

Garrett Gilbert threw the ball well and he really has a nice touch on deep routes. I'm endlessly fascinated that he can't throw a spiral. Peyton Manning doesn't either. So I don't mean that in a critical way at all. The balls are all well thrown. I just find it amusing.

Connor Wood is a QB straight from central casting.

Saw no Barrett Matthews. Don't know what's up.

First Off The Bus Award:

1. Alex Okafor
2. Keenan Robinson
3. Aaron Williams
4. Mason Walters
5. Greg Daniels
6. Emmanuel Acho
7. Dravannti Johnson
8. Christian Scott
9. Malcolm Williams
10. Sam Acho

The Vasherized Smaller Than He Claims Award:

1. Mike Davis
2. Blake Gideon
3. Darius Terrell
4. Patrick Nkwopara

Terrell got thrown around like a rag doll at TE. Not his natural position. Mike Davis looks great but he's not 6-2. Gideon stood right next to Aaron Williams on the sideline and he was the smaller guy. Nkwopara would be useful in a child predator sting operation.

Thoughts? Questions?