Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong splits the year into five separate phases -- winter conditioning, spring practice, summer conditioning, fall camp, and the season itself.
With the summer session beginning on campus on Thursday, the Texas players are back in town after their multi-week break and are now back under the watchful eye of strength and conditioning coach Pat Moorer and his staff as they start the third phase. For any of the players who didn't maintain their level of conditioning during the break, the last few days and the coming days probably have not and will not be pleasant for them.
"The third phase is summer conditioning," Strong said during the spring. "So now we went from winter conditioning and you go back to summer conditioning. The good thing about summer conditioning is you get your freshmen in. Now that they're about to become part of the program, you still have a chance to go get bigger and stronger. They have a chance to work with our strength and conditioning staff."
And with the new rules implemented under Strong, the entire team should be staying on campus for the first time as the new head coach seeks to build a greater bond between the young player and the older players who often lived off campus. One potential benefit of that change is having a greater level of accountability for the freshmen and sophomores to the juniors and seniors who are expected to lead the team. At the least, the young players should learn how to carry themselves.
The 2014 recruiting class has also joined the three early enrollees on campus now, including wide receiver Lorenzo Joe, who put up a picture of his new locker on Instagram:
For quarterback Jerrod Heard, that means that he's done with his second stint working under quarterback coach George Whitfield and ready to start facing the significant expectations that have been placed on him by many members of the fan base.
The other prospects arriving on campus include:
- Running back Donald Catalon
- Running back D'Onta Foreman
- Running back Kevin Shorter
- Wide receiver Roderick Bernard
- Wide receiver Armanti Foreman
- Wide receiver Garrett Gray
- Wide receiver Dorian Leonard
- Center Terrell Cuney
- Offensive tackle Elijah Rodriguez
- Defensive tackle Poona Ford
- Defensive tackle Chris Nelson
- Defensive end Derick Roberson
- Defensive end Jake McMillon
- Linebacker Cameron Hampton
- Safety/outside linebacker Edwin Freeman
- Safety John Bonney
- Safety Jason Hall
- Cornerback Jermaine Roberts
The major difference for this freshman class and for the rest of the team is that this summer the coaching staff will have eight hours each week to work with players, including two hours to spend in the film room. Between workouts with Moorer and staff and 7on7 workouts, the players are going to be working for well more than eight hours a week -- that's hardly a new expectation -- but will have more opportunities to grow and improve by spending time in the film room with their position coaches, coordinators, and head coach.
Unfortunately for Texas, prospective starting quarterback David Ash won't be able to benefit from most if not all of that 7on7 work and will merely be able to spend time in the film room and working out his upper body as he continues to recover from the Jones fracture in his left foot that ended his spring prematurely.
As a result, there's going to be a leadership vacuum at the position during those workouts, which will provide an opportunity for sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes or Heard to step into that role. The player that does start to take control of the team during that time could have the inside shot at the back-up role when fall camp starts. And since neither is likely to be the starter, some of the other older players may have to step up as well.
The national championship season of 2005 got underway in earnest when Vince Young challenged his teammates to show up for those passing sessions if they wanted to beat Ohio State and Colt McCoy was known for picking up teammates and making sure that they were in attendance.
So the work that the Horns do over the next two months will help determine whether the team has a successful season.