The closer defensive players are to the football, the faster things happen. At no position, then, do players have to process and digest an incredible amount of information more quickly than at defensive tackle.
As a result, many defensive tackles have to redshirt when getting on campus, not just to develop in the weight room, but also to allow time to adjust to the speed of the game.
So even though former Brenham star Malcom Brown got to Texas amid a great deal of buzz about the possibility of early playing time, the stacked depth chart in front of him wasn't going to make things any easier, along with those other factors working against him.
Fortunately for Brown, the illness contracted by junior college transfer Brandon Moore opened up an opportunity against West Virginia after spot playing time through the first four games. Suffice it to say that Brown took advantage.
The big defensive tackle had four tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage, and also had the sack on fourth down that was taken away by the Texas timeout.
One of the players whose efforts defensive coordinatortermed "exciting," the plays made by Brown were essentially his first as a Longhorn:
And he goes into a game and does a little bit, but now he goes in the game again and makes big plays. Obviously he's a great athlete. He's got great change of direction for a guy his size, so things like that make his future very bright.
Count junior cornerback Carrington Byndom as another impressed by the true freshman's effort:
With the stops he got this weekend, he made the best of them. That definitely showed the coaches something, and it showed us something. I see a bright future with him, and I think he is going to be pretty good here.
Add head coachto the growing list, as well:
I was really pleased with [freshman DT] Malcom Brown the other night. Malcom Brown and [sophomore DB] Mykkele Thompson made a lot of progress the another night... But Malcom Brown looked like he belonged. He stepped out and made great plays.
It has been a growing experience with Brown throughout the fall, though the flashes have always been there, in the opinion of Diaz:
We had him in there in some critical situations. That's just the development of a football player. You see him, he started doing some nice things back in two-a-days and then struggled in group work, then did some nice things in group work but then in team was kind of lost and then started making good plays in team and then he struggles when he goes into a game.
As a young player, there will surely be more struggles, but the performance against a really good offense suggests that the Texas may have a defensive tackle rotation that goes five deep with quality when Moore returns to full health. Not bad for a team that plays in a league of spread offenses that can go no huddle and wear down the big guys inside at an incredible rate.
But what is it that makes Brown capable of making plays so early in his college career?
In two words -- pure talent. But that's a bit of a cop-out. Extraordinary quickness off the ball is probably his best attribute, a trait that wouldn't be nearly as valuable if he didn't back it up with an incredible motor that always runs hot, the reason he was known for chasing plays 60 yards downfield in high school.
At the college level, tough, quickness and a motor aren't enough, and senior defensive end Alex Okafor spoke in the preseason about how advanced Brown is in using his hands, normally one of the areas that take several years to master for defensive linemen.
Brown appears to be ahead of the curve in that regard, which is one of the major reasons he can translate his natural talent to the field during games.
With the first two levels of the Texas defense getting blocked way too often, the addition of someone like Brown for a handful of snaps a game could help continue creating those negative plays that Diaz seeks to allow his defense to tee off on passing downs, where the Longhorns rank second in the country.