The Texas Football team is not in full pads yet, but there are some really interesting early returns to assess. Some of these guys may be shorts and shell superstars, but if you can interpret Mack-speak (I've been fluent since 2002 or so), you can tell who has genuinely impressed and who is getting polite lip service.
Most important development: former JUCO OT Desmond Harrison missed his second straight day with "academic issues."
[Junior transfer offensive tackle] Desmond Harrison is dealing with some academic issues that we feel should be fixed any time. He's still in school; he cannot practice, but he can basically do everything else. We feel that he'll be back on the field soon.
I'm trying hard not to go on another football-specific academic support rant, but it sounds like this is resolvable. We'll know what Harrison brings to the table when pads come on and he's facing Jeffcoat. Until then, it's all projection and wishful thinking. If he meets our wildest optimistic projections, Searels is committed to Best Five Start and every dude on the OL other than Trey Hopkins will be puckering - not just Espinosa. Good. I love you Charles Darwin. Bring it, Desmond.
Texas has a very strong freshman OL class and Mack likes 'em so far...
It's hard [to tell after three days]. [Freshman offensive tackle] Kent Perkins has done really well. He had a sore shoulder a little bit today and that limited him some, so I hope he can get back tomorrow. Desmond [Harrison] looked really good when he was out here the first day, so both of those guys could be factors. Then you have to wait and watch the other guys. I saw [freshman offensive tackle] Rami [Hammad] knock someone completely down today in an inside drill, and he did a good job. [Freshman offensive guard] Darius James was a little bit overheated the first day, but he's done better adjusting to the heat the last two days, so that should help him. Of course we had [freshman center] Jake [Raulerson] already out here this spring, so we knew a lot about him. I think the offensive line will be really, really good before they finish.
I agree. Our young talent behind the current upperclassmen is plainly better. They're just not game-tested and too inexperienced. I'd love some redshirts all around, but I'm doubtful we get them. Searels has done a hell of a job in the recruiting piece. Curious to see how he teaches and develops his own class that he raises from pups.
On the receivers getting work without Shipley and Davis practicing...
Yes, it's really helped us to be forced to look at the freshmen. Jacorey Warrick has done some good things, and that's been fun to watch him. Both of the other two, other three really because [freshman wide receiver] Chevoski [Collins] is working over there. All of those young ones have shown ability, but we probably wouldn't have given them as many snaps if [junior] Jaxon [Shipley] and [senior] Mike [Davis] were out there. We've really been impressed with [sophomore] Kendall Sanders. I thought [sophomore] Marcus [Johnson] did ok the first day; he's had two really good practices since then. Both of those guys could be a factor for us, and we need them.
Keep in mind the bolded portion. And every young receiver looks pretty good in shorts and no one is jacking them up. Sander is a special athlete, but we need him to pick up some of the more subtle aspects of the position ASAP. We also really need Marcus Johnson to show he can blow the top off of some coverages. Please read our WR analysis, if you haven't yet.
Daje. The X FACTOR is ready. He'd better be. We need him to be Percy Harvin to reach our season ceiling...
Daje's looked really good. He's in great shape. He's more confident. One of his issues last year was that he would play a day and then take a day off and be inconsistent. He's had three good days. We're really impressed with that. He's put a lot of work into conditioning this summer, and his speed just gives us another dynamic out there that we don't have in a lot of ways without him. We'll play him some at tailback, but right now he's getting slot, because we're trying to put in the basic concepts and get them down really, really well before we start putting in a whole lot of stuff.
He's the most explosive athlete on the roster. Has anyone ever run an All Slot offense? I think his heavy practice reps there are for familiarity purposes - he'll still get plenty of touches coming out of the backfield. Also, I don't want him in "packages" - I want him on the field 60 plays a game. Anyone else down with that sentiment?
It turns out that the young DEs are impressive and our depth there is better than previously thought. Hey, maybe redshirting isn't a four letter word after all!
Bryce is very quick and in this league you need quick defensive ends that can pass rush. So you are really looking at [senior] Reggie Wilson, who has had his best three days since he has been here, so I am impressed with him and he needs to keep doing that. But you look at [redshirt freshman] Caleb Bluiett, you look at [sophomore] Shiro Davis, and you look at Bryce and all three of them are quick enough to help us in pass rushing. Shiro is 247 pounds now so his body is fit and he runs 4.5 or 4.6 [in the 40-yard dash] so he is a guy that can get there. Bryce is really smart so he is a hard guy for them to block. So we do feel like right now that we have six defensive ends for the chance to help us and we have challenged the coaches that Bryce might be starting and we got to have some depth. There may be a game he is starting with injuries or a problem with anything else so we get them all ready to play and that is why we are pushing them all.
This is really encouraging. We all expected big things from Shiro, but Cottrell and Blueitt have really developed. Hat tip to Oscar Giles and Bennie Wylie. Hot damn! This is like a real program. Developing players and whatnot.
Finally, a quick update on freshman CB Antwuan Davis from Bastrop....
He looked real fast and he looks older and more experienced for a young guy coming in.
I've been very high on Antwuan even when he was ranked pretty modestly. I wrote this back in May, 2012:
Bottom line: Do yourself a favor and ignore whatever amount of stars or the rankings this guy has been assigned by some services. They will change. People are trying to be cute with what is blindingly obvious: this is an elite recruit with the perfect frame, athletic ability, and the physically reckless playing style coveted in a cornerback prospect.
Those rankings did change. Rapidly. And I think he's going to deliver on my big expectations.
Other quick snippets:
- Edmond and Bergeron are both down 15-20 pounds
- Quandre Diggs is ahead of schedule on recovery
- Team is more physically mature across the board
- Gray had a big offseason - hard worker
- Brown and Dorsey are 1st team DTs
- Ash is responding well to simpler reads
- Chevoski Collins is at WR. I still think he ends up at safety