The Abilene Cooper Cougars have spent some time in the Austin area recently -- the 7-on-7 squad made the trip down from the Big Country for the Round Rock State Qualifying Tournament in late May, then made the journey once again on Friday night for a scrimmage against Westlake at Westlake Chaparral Stadium. Tood Moebes and his team will be back in the Austin area on September 7th for a tilt against state power Cedar Park.
For Texas fans, the player of interest on Friday night was 2014 wide receiver commit Lorenzo Joe, the athletic 6-3, 185-pounder who was the first pledge of the class (and a silent commit for several months this summer), and a guy who will be making the move to quarterback full time with the departure of signal caller Clayton Nicholas to Texas Tech.
After the scrimmage, which was highly controlled and featured vanilla play-calling on both sides, as expected in such an affair, Joe shared his thoughts on several subjects.
"Oh man, it feels great," Joe said of his commitment, after having some time to process it. "You know what, since it's behind me now, I'm trying to focus on the season, the next two seasons, and not really trying to worry about too much, but it's a great honor to be a part of the Texas family. But right now I'm just trying to focus up for the season."
More of a lead-by-example type as a sophomore, Joe's now ready to take on a larger leadership role on the team, one that he says is necessary for his new-ish position (he was the back-up quarterback last season and had a package of plays).
"Playing quarterback, you have to be the field general on the field," said the Texas commit. "I've got to come out here and lead the offense to the box. Today, it was a great opportunity to come out against someone different, a different defense, and see someone else. It was tough out there, but we had a lot of fun."
It was apparent in his actions. He was vocal in the huddle getting his teammates ready for drives, and he was one of the first to congratulate all of his teammates coming off the field after a good play. With his outgoing personality and easy smile, it's easy to see Joe emerging as the unquestioned leader of the team, if he hasn't already, a sentiment to which head coach Todd Moebes agreed.
For a lot of players, the summer represents a couple difficult months. 7-on-7 may help pass the time, but there's no other feeling like getting the pads on in the fall to prepare for the Friday night lights.
"It feels great, it feels good," said Joe, mildly suggestive of some Outkast lyrics. "We've had the shoulder pads on, but the full pants on feels great."
As the first commit in the class, Joe said he wasn't planning on recruiting Twitter friend KD Cannon, the stud wide receiver from Mount Pleasant, but he was keeping up with Denton Guyer quarterback Jerrod Heard before his recent pledge.
"I've been keeping touch with Jerrod Heard on Twitter. I was kind of bugging with him about committing to Texas and stuff, and he kind of told me he was going to wait until next year, but he surprised me when he committed not too long ago. I was really happy for him."
It was a bit of a change in direction for Heard for him to make his pledge public, but Joe wasn't sure what made him alter his plans.
"He didn't tell me anything about what made him change his mind, but I'm just proud of him to be joining the family. He's part of the family now and he can get on with his season, too."
Other than the Friday trip for the scrimmage, the Cooper product hadn't been back in Austin since his silent commitment in June, but didn't have a chance to make it over campus on Friday with fall camp over and the short break before beginning gameweek preparation in effect.
Joe does plan on making it done for several games this fall.
"You know, I really want to get down here and try to make some games, and hopefully I can get down here for the season opener against Wyoming or something, but I really want to try to make some games."
After throwing out the West Virginia game, Joe said that sounded good, before adding that "any game" would really be fine with him.
During the scrimmage on Friday, Joe didn't have many opportunities to run the ball on called plays, but did flash his 4.52 40 speed on several scrambles outside of the pocket, which included some nifty open-field moves. Don't classify him as simply a big receiver -- of the tall guys that Texas has recruited at the position in the last several years, Joe perhaps has the best shake/feet of the group, right up there with Mike Davis' former roommate.
LoJoe will be yet another option to throw some passes on trick plays when he eventually arrives in Austin, as he's actually a remarkably solid quarterback for a future wide receiver. The mechanics aren't quite ideal, but he can get vertical and hit his receivers, while also making a strong throw to the outside from the opposite hash in the intermediate passing game on Friday, the type of delivery that would raise the eyebrows a bit for any high school quarterback, much less a guy who projects at another position.
So even though it's unfortunate that Joe won't have many opportunities to work at receiver during games in the next two seasons (unless the young quarterback behind him on the depth chart emerges), the ability to learn the game from the quarterback position will give him a better grasp of how offenses work. Give him a look through the door instead of through the keyhole.
And the training and development at quarterback isn't similar to the actions he'll be performing as a wide receiver at Texas, but the ability to learn and accept coaching are lessons that will carry over. It's a relatively small thing for a quarterback, but Joe keeps the ball high and tight to his body on his drops -- someone told him how that looks, and he translated it to his game.
Missing reps at receiver isn't ideal, but the kid's gonna be alright. Probably better than alright.