It's Friday and it's over 100 degrees again in Austin. So before you head out to the pool to have a couple cold ones, indulge in some actual news during the horrible, terrible, very bad offseason.
Texas 7-on-7 news is a crack-like substance. Scipio Tex has some second-hand information about a recent Longhorn 7-on-7 workout observed from a nearby cheerleading camp. Hey, it's the off-season, so this counts as serious news! Mmm, feel the goodness wash over you. Let's do it bullet-stylie:
- Garrett Gilbert has good velocity on his throws and looks like he might have gained some arm strength since his shoulder surgery. I've thought for a while that Gilbert come make the throws he needs to make and a lot of the perception of his lack of arm strength came from his junior season, when, guess what, he played with a torn labrum ever since the early part of the season. It might not be that his arm is that much stronger now, just that he is now able to put what he has on it. Whatever the case, Colt McCoy still isn't lauded for his arm strength, but in the current version of the Texas offense, Gilbert doesn't need to have a Jay Culter-arm, he just needs to be accurate.
- Colt McCoy looks better than ever, with "improved" footwork and the accuracy Texas fans now expect from their robo-quarterback. As he will have to do during the season, McCoy was reportedly putting the ball in small spaces against strong and getting stronger secondary play. Based on the reports, any concerns about McCoy not being the leader of the team (they should be just about gone) should be absolutely put to rest.
- DJ Grant! Playing football! Now up to a little over 220 pounds, Grant still moves like a receiver (no surprise), but more importantly is able to find holes in coverage, as he will need to do in the Texas offense, along with stretching the seam. The obvious question remains about how well he can block.
- Everyone in the secondary looks stronger, but especially Earl Thomas and Aaron Williams, who both appear ready for monster seasons. Based on other reports, Thomas is now the leader of the secondary, instructing other players (like Christian Scott, most likely) on where they need to line up after relying heavily on Blake Gideon last year to do the same for him. More thoughts on that and Aaron Williams at a later point.
Franklin set to make decision before end of summer. The top four of Texas, Oklahoma, A&M, and Baylor remains for the Marshall linebacker, who plans on making a decision ($) before the start of football season, possibly as early as the end of the month. At this point, after traveling extensively as his recruitment picked up during the spring and summer, Franklin says that his family is exhausted and ready for a break. Due to that fatigue, Franklin chose not to attend an A&M camp ($) this week and will not make it back to Baylor, though he says his absence isn't an indication of his eliminating the Aggies or Bears from consideration. As for the Longhorns, Franklin hasn't planned another trip to Austin. Texas still stands a strong chance even without the visit and conventional wisdom holds that the Longhorns and the Sooners lead for his services. Franklin, for his part, claims everyone is currently equal among his top four.
Some Jordan Hamilton news. Simply reading this blog post from Northstar Basketball is enough to make the heart skip a beat: Citing a source close to the situation (don't they all), it claims that Jordan Hamilton is likely not to qualify to play basketball for Texas this fall. While Hamilton is still in the Clearinghouse (along with J'Covan Brown), he is still expected to enroll for the second summer session, which begins July 12th. The aforementioned blog cites the fact that Hamilton wasn't in Austin at the date of post (July 2nd), though there wasn't any particular reason for him to be in town at that point.
Chip Brown says any potential eligibility problems are news to the Longhorns ($) and the likely slow decision revolves around the fact that Hamilton was ineligible last season after a California board ruled that he couldn't play his fourth season of high school basketball, even though he had sat out his freshman year to concentrate on his grades. Another possibility is that since his high school ended late the Clearinghouse simply hasn't had enough time to properly review his situation. Either way, Hamilton should be in Austin and in class on Monday.
In happier news, Hamilton spoke with Houston's 1560 The Game about playing for Texas and even a little bit about Michael Jackson. He comes across as well-spoken and mature during the interview, saying all the right things about his potential role with this team, dabbling in some cliches perhaps, but saying the right thing is encouraging and not necessarily the norm among players his age. Especially heartening was his mention of focusing on getting the ball to Dexter Pittman in the post, a struggle at times last season. With his ability to knock down the outside shot, Hamilton should be able to create the angles to do so, unlike Dogus Balbay and Justin Mason.
And contrary to his reputation in high school and on the AAU circuit, the talented wing says that he's ready and willing to expend some energy on the defensive end. The depth of the team this season will give Rick Barnes the opportunity to enforce an edict of defense first, even with Hamilton. In all fairness, for someone expected to score as much as Hamilton has been for every team he's played on, there isn't always a lot of energy left for defense. Kobe Bryant has to spend most of his energy scoring, leaving little for defense. However, when given the opportunity last summer, Bryant willingly took on the role of defensive stopper that he could never play in LA.
The other interesting comment that Hamilton made was that he often played in the post during his three years of high school ball as the tallest player on the team -- his ability in the post doesn't come up in any evaluations of him, but he must have some semblance of a game on the block. The Longhorns won't need it this season unless it's at times when Pittman is out of the game and Hamilton has a smaller player guarding him, but it might be an interesting facet of his game that he could use if he returns for his sophomore season.
July evaluation period in progress. Since the NCAA ruled to take away the April evaluation period for college coaches, the month of July has become even more important ($). In fact, coaches haven't been able to watch players in game action since the high school season ended. The heads of every program will fly around the country this month to take in camps and AAU tournaments in an effort to scout potential recruits, still in the evaluation stages instead of the final targeting phases. Most schools have offers out to the top 2010 and 2011 guys (Texas has two commits in 2010 and four in 2011), but for late risers, this is the month to prove that they deserve an offer.
One rising player who will receive an evaluation from Texas comes from a school familiar to both Sooners and Longhorns: Amarillo Palo Duro, the alma mater of both Austin Johnson and Justin Mason. Since neither Josh Smith nor Fab Melo have made it to campus, their recruitments seem the longest of longshots at this point and the coaching staff will turn their time and energy to unearthing some other post options in the 2010 class, though there aren't many likely alternatives out there right now.
The coaches will look at Palo Duro's Michael Cobbins, a long, lanky, 6-8 energy guy right now who increased his stock in one of the least controllable ways possible -- just by growing a couple of inches. The added heigh has greatly increased the number of major suitors for his services. Formerly recruited by smaller schools like SMU and New Mexico, Cobbins now has offers from Indiana, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State. In fact, Cobbins was so lightly regarded as a younger player that he didn't even have any offers from Texas AAU teams, eventually landing with the New Mexico Force ($).
Though his stock has risen, Cobbins is still a rather raw offensive player. He does possess strong athleticism that allows him to dunk the ball when he catches it around the basket and is an excellent rebounder and wing and interior defender -- he's an extremely versatile defender who may not have the strength to defend pure posts, but can guard threes and fours with equal effectiveness.
Texas has shown more interest recently and an offer could be in the works for Cobbins.
Michael Cobbins Highlights Palo Duro Basketball (via phillibuck)
From the Land of Miscellany. An update for those who are following the latest BCS shenanigans...The state 7-on-7 tournament started on Thursday in College Station and features some Longhorn commits and recruits ($). Among the players there are Graham's Case McCoy, DeSoto's Darius Terrell and Adrian White, Lufkin's Carrington Byndom, Cedar Hill's Aaron Benson, Temple's Lache Seastrunk, Denton Guyer's JW Walsh and many others. I'll review the tournament after it completes, but from pictures of the event, Case McCoy has been working hard in the weight room and doesn't look scrawny any more. Jaxon Shipley, on the other hand, looks like he needs to, though his route runner is said to have been impressive on the first day...BC has some fun with the roster update on MB-TF this week...Warning: you may want to disregard this link. Tim Griffin has Crabtree's catch (you know the one I'm talking about), as the Big 12's second most memorable moment. Check the picture to see how close Curtis Brown got to making a play on that ball...More BC stuff: Thoughts on the Big 12 North, distributing minutes for the basketball team, and the Mack Brown Curse, striking again.