Have you tried to project next year's depth chart? I fiddled with it this week. I came away surprised at how few Sr.’s and Jr.’s made the list. Mack Brown usually does a news conference before spring training, and he’ll probably provide a few names and maybe announce some positions switches next week. He won’t include the numbers you’ll find here.
My concept was to determine how many members of next year’s two-deep will be newcomers – defined as players who signed this month or who signed a year ago this month. They’re the new guys; those in their third, fourth or fifth seasons in the program are veterans. Let’s get to it.
QB – Three of the four are first- or second-year players.
RB – Two fifth-year seniors, but logic and talent tell us a second-year freshman (Traylon Shead) and a first-year freshman (Malcolm Brown) could see much of the action.
WR – Everything I’ve seen projects true sophomores Mike Davis and Darius White and true freshman Jaxon Shipley getting regular playing time. It's possible all three could start.
TE – I hesitate even to wade into this pool . . . the position’s been a mess for three years. It probably won’t be real young players atop the depth chart, but two strong candidates are Blaine Irby and Dominique Jones. Irby hasn’t played since September 2008; Jones has barely seen the field and is still learning the position.
OL – My description: Not terribly young, extremely shy on experience. Two seniors and four third-year sophomores figure to eat up most of the snaps. True soph Trey Hopkins should start, and a couple of the incoming freshmen almost have to land second-team slots.
DE – Young and thin here. True sophomores Reggie Wilson and Jackson Jeffcoat could start and a true freshman may be in the playing rotation. I can think of three candidates – all third- or fourth-year players – the coaching staff may switch here to alleviate depth issues.
DT – One senior and the rest are young. Six of the eight players at the position are first- or second-year guys and a couple (Ashton Dorsey? Desmond Jackson?) could see major playing time.
LB – Two senior starters and six first- or second-year players; five will be classified as freshmen.
S – A bit more experience here (two seniors, two juniors), though true sophomore Adrian Phillips could break into the two-deep – if he isn’t moved to corner.
CB – Three incoming freshmen, two second-year sophomores, a third-year soph (Eryon Barnett, who has barely seen the field because of injuries). That’s all there is.
Summing up – QB, one of the top two will be young . . . RB, two freshmen could get major playing time . . . WR, three of the top five are likely to be players signed since January of 2010 . . . TE and OL, a bit more time in the program but a major experience void regardless of who wins jobs . . . DE, young starters and new faces in reserve . . . DT, Kheeston Randall and a cast of many – all young . . . LB, Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho and (see DT) . . . DB, plenty of experience at safety, none at corner.
Except at safety, almost the entire second defensive unit will be freshmen (true or redshirt). Half the top quarterbacks, running backs and receivers will be first- or second-year players. The offensive line must replace starters at tight end, both tackles and one guard.
I'm thinking Mack’s new staff will not be knocking off at noon to make tee times.
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