Six NFL rookie Longhorn alumni are trying to make a name for themselves at football's highest level. We never thought we'd miss them so much. But they sure do make us smile seeing them succeed in the pros.
In a season where it's hard to find positive notes, most of the Texas NFL freshmen are having a great start to the pro careers. Here is a quick look at what each has accomplished as of mid-season now that each team has played at least eight games.
Jordan Shipley, Bengals
The Bengals had perhaps the most crowded receiving group in the NFL in the preseason. Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco are two of the most productive receivers of the past 10 years. It was hard to imagine enough passes going Shiley's way. But when you work the middle like a surgeon, Carson Palmer can't help but look your way. After playing in seven games, he has 396 yards, which is fourth-most among rookies. His best game was in Week 7 against Atlanta when he had six catches for 131 yards, including a 64-yard weave to the end zone.
Colt McCoy, Browns
Colt McCoy wasn't supposed to see a snap during his rookie season. But the football gods work in funny ways. Injuries to Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace forced an early start to McCoy's NFL career. His first start was against the best defense in football, the Pittsburgh Steelers. He's 2-1 so far against a gauntlet threesome of Pittsburgh, New Orleans and New England - the first two being on the road. The stat line reads: 67.6 completion percentage, 529 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 37 yards rushing, 1 rushing TD. His QB rating is 83.5. Not bad at all. He's best play came against the Patriots last weekend when he scrambled for a 20-yard touchdown. It doesn't look like he'll be grabbing some bench again anytime soon.
Earl Thomas, Seahawks
The first Longhorn drafted has made the biggest impact. No surprise, really. Thomas may just be 21, but his talent is undeniable. He's been Seattle's starting strong safety since Week 1 and has picked off four passes. That leads all rookies and is tied for fifth in the NFL. He's having a Pro Bowl-caliber season.
Lamarr Houston, Raiders
Don't look now, but the Raiders are good. Houston has started eight games at defensive end. He has just 13 tackles, but has two sacks and one forced fumble. The two sacks rank fourth among rookies.
Sergio Kindle, Ravens
Narcolepsy + staircase = bad things. Seriously, Kindle suffered a fractured skull and was hospitalized after a fall in late July. He's out for the season. Too bad he was drafted to be on a rock-solid defense where he will likely be one of the top performers. It would have been really fun to see him this year. Hopefully he will make a full recovery. The last time we saw Kindle play, he was completely dominating Crimson Tide tackles.
Roddrick Muckelroy, Bengals
UT Part II has four Longhorns, but Muckelroy hasn't seen much of the field. He's seen limited action in six games, recording just four tackles and one forced fumble.