Texas WR Jaxon Shipley could be the deep threat Horns need

Stacy Revere

The senior receiver was impressive in the Orange-White game.

It's easy to take Texas Longhorns senior wide receiver Jaxon Shipley for granted -- he's just that consistent, rarely dropping passes or ending up in the wrong spot on his route.

But perhaps many are underestimating Jordan's younger brother when it comes to his potential for a big finish to his Texas career.

Last season, the 6'1, 195-pounder led Texas in receptions with 56, but averaged only 10.5 yards per catch, totaling almost 140 yards fewer than the now-departed Mike Davis, the leader in receiving yardage at 727. And Shipley managed only one touchdown, a career low.

In fact, his yards per catch have declined every year since his freshman season, though he did have a career-high 737 receiving yards and six touchdowns as a sophomore in 2012.

The emphasis on running the football last season probably hurt Shipley, as did the presence of Davis as the primary deep threat, limiting Shipley to working near the sticks more often than not, where he was effective but perhaps underutilized.

In the battle to replace the downfield production of Davis, the primary wide receivers who have garnered attention are juniors Kendall Sanders and Marcus Johnson. The latter, as many remember, was quite effective on wheel routes against Oklahoma and TCU, while the consideration of Sanders for that role mostly stems from his long touchdown on a post route from David Ash against Kansas State.

Based on the spring game, however, the best candidate may be Shipley.

He was the leading receiver in the contest with six catches for 95 yards, including the 44-yard touchdown catch below on what was likely a go route.

That wasn't the only time that Shipley got open deep, either -- he was missed by Swoopes on a post route for a would-be touchdown early and then again on a slant-and-go route when he was overthrown by his sophomore quarterback a second time.

Reminiscent of his older brother, Shipley has the foot speed and overall quickness in and out of his breaks that makes his double moves extremely difficult to stop. The quarterback merely needs time to deliver the football.

Play caller and quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson believes that Shipley has been flying somewhat under the radar after a good spring, too.

"(Jaxon) Shipley has had a really big spring for us," Watson said last week. "He is so consistent every team needs him. He is smart, tough, and dependable. He has had a really nice spring and he has got a skill set that I think sometimes you underestimate because he is so steady in his play and then he will make some huge plays for us."

Other than the compliments from Watson, which were flowing freely from the former Louisville offensive coordinator on that particular day, Shipley didn't receive any mention in the transcribed comments from coaches during the spring, not even head coach Charlie Strong.

It seems that he's underestimated and under appreciated by the media, too, which must have merely figured that Shipley was going to do what he's always done during the season.

Saturday's performance suggests that Shipley is capable of doing more than that and if he can continue getting open at the same rate and get some help from whatever quarterback ends up starting for the Horns, he could put up his first 1,000-yard season, surpass his six touchdowns from 2012, and generally cause fits for opposing defenses.

Those opposing defenses would be well served not to underestimate him, at least.

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