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Injury Returns Key To Longhorn Offense: OL Patrick Hudson, TE Cade Brewer, RB Tre Watson

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NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Texas Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Three Longhorns will be returning from knee injuries this August and two of them, TE Cade Brewer and California RB Grad Transfer Tre Watson, will be on limited contact for the first week of camp as Longhorn trainers integrate them back into the flow and test their ability to handle cuts and contact.

The third - giant Silsbee OG Patrick Hudson - is a full go for contact.

All three have the potential to influence Longhorn season outcomes for an offense that was a moribund, historically poor unit in 2017.

The Lake Travis product, Brewer, flashed real pass catching ability as a true freshman and has gained 25+ pounds in the offseason to bring his playing weight well into the 240s. How his reconstructed knee will respond to a receiving game built on cuts and niftiness remains to be seen, but reconstructed ACLs (he blew his out in November) tend to allow full lateral mobility 18 to 24 months out. If he can give the offense even 90% recovery, he’ll be an important complement to Andrew Beck’s primary blocking role.

Grad transfer Tre Watson was the starting RB for Cal before blowing out his knee in early September. He has rehabbed aggressively, but like Brewer, the nifty third down RB relies on slashing and aggressive lateral cuts to make himself effective as receiver and runner. There’s no question the Texas staff values his experience and versatility in a crowded, but still incomplete Texas backfield. While Daniel Young and Toneil Carter may start the year as a 1A and 1B, there’s a clear opportunity for a healthy Watson.

Finally, big Patrick Hudson’s knee injury robbed him of what he needs most - game and practice reps. There’s little doubt that the big redshirt sophomore would have seen more action last year absent his injury, and the potential upside of the bear with sweet feet is significant for an offense that needs aggressive OL who can physically displace defenders to effectively run the inside zone staple that the offense is built around. Hudson can do that. Whether he can master the nuances of passing off defenders, run blocking and assignment soundness will determine whether he can unseat senior Elijah Rodriguez.

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