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Morning Coffee Goes Pro

Horns_bullet_mediumTexas Pro Day stocks. The Longhorns held their annual Pro Day for scouts ($) (and Packers GM Ted Thompson) on Wednesday, an important day for players looking to improve on their NFL Combine results (Ryan Palmer) or players who weren't invited to the Combine (Henry Melton).

  • Stock Rising: Henry Melton. The former Texas running back probably worked his way into the top half of the NFL Draft (fourth or fifth round) with his extremely impressive showing at the Texas Pro Day -- perhaps not the most impressive of the group, as Roy Miller and Brian Orakpo both allayed concerns, but Melton was the player who made himself the most money, running a 4.58 40 at 268 pounds (instead of the normal 225) and posting a 36.5-inch vertical. That raw athleticism, combined with his lack of experience at the defensive end position gives Melton a considerable amount of potential. As HenryJames notes, that 40 time makes Melton faster than the OU safeties.
  • Stock Rising: Quan Cosby. Though Cosby stuck with 4.57 40 from the Combine, he did perform extremely well in the passing drills, once regaining his feet to make a catch that IT's Ross Lucksinger compared to the David Thomas catch in the Rose Bowl. With his ability to use his body to shield defenders, his amazing hands, and leaping ability, Cosby won't be kept out of the league by his size, but the lack of upside will probably hurt him, as what you see is what you get with the "elderly" Mart product and former minor league baseball player.
  • Stock Rising: Roy Miller. Height has always been the concerns pro scouts have about Miller, but he did answer the questions he could -- running a 4.8 40 after a 4.98 at the Combine, while still adding 23 pounds since the end of the football season. His strength and first step helped Miller solidified his position in the middle rounds. 
  • Stock Holding: Brian Orakpo. There wasn't much to prove for Rak that he didn't at the NFL Combine, considering his 4.7 40, 11-foot broad jump, and 31 reps at 261 pounds. Orakpo stuck with those numbers, but showed well in position drills and proved the health of his knees, essentially answering all the questions scouts had about him and making him a top-10 lock come April and possibly as high as five, a pick held by the Cleveland Browns, who play a 3-4 defense.
  • Stock Holding: Chris Ogbonnaya. OG ran a predictably mediocre 4.65 at the Combine and stuck with that number and worked at the positions he played at Texas (wide receiver, running back, and fullback). His versatility may land him a chance at the next level in the role he excelled at during his last season at Texas -- third-down specialist. He's probably a free agent pick up.
  • Stock Holding: Rashad Bobino. Everyone's least favorite linebacker (at least after Scott Derry and Robert Killebrew left) ran the slow 40 expected of him -- 4.7, but managed to turn in a remarkable 4.18 shuttle time that would have been second-best among linebackers at the NFL Combine. Adding his kamikaze tendencies and slow straight-line speed to his lack of height essentially eliminates him from NFL consideration, which isn't exactly a surprise. I would be greatly surprised if he latched on with a team even as a free agent. But I guess he bled for the program and stuff, so there's that.
  • Stock Holding: Ryan Palmer. Like Roy Miller, Palmer couldn't answer his biggest question mark -- size. At only 5-8, it doesn't mater much that Palmer ran a 4.53 40, much better than his 4.62 at the Combine, or that he can jump 36.5 inches in the air while standing still -- he's just too small. As the only thing separating him from some serious cash money, Palmer must wake up every morning and curse the cruel fate that dealt him a short deck.
  • Stock Falling: Aaron Lewis. For a player uninvited to the Combine and on the extreme margins of NFL talent, Aaron Lewis needed a strong performance on Wednesday. Due to hip and hamstring injuries, Lewis wasn't able to run a 40, but completed the shuttle in 4.45 seconds. Lewis will have to get healthy and make a strong impression at tryouts after the draft to make an NFL roster.
  • Post-college attendees. Texas players who completed their eligibility in the fall weren't the only participants on Wednesday. Former walk-on and track athlete Joe Davis worked out at wide receiver, perhaps giving himself a shot at landing a free agent opportunity with his 6-5 frame , while Eric Hall and former Texas receiver Myron Hardy worked out as well. Last year former Texas quarterback James Brown was pulled from the crowd to throw to the receivers, but this year it was native Texan and former Iowa quarterback Drew Tate and Austin resident Jeff Blake who did the honors.

Horns_bullet_mediumD-Money names UT the favorite. Forth Worth Dunbar receiver Darius White, aka D-Money, currently has a27 offers from the best programs in the country, but there is one that stands above the rest ($) -- Texas. An Austin trip with his mom and brothers is in store for the spring game, while White says that his mom is advising him to take his time with the process. Considering the statements White made in the fall sounding like he was a lock to commit early, the trip seems to be about establishing a comfort level with the program for his mother, much like Reggie Wilson's trip last week that culminated in news of commitment shortly thereafter. If White's mother gives her stamp of approval at the spring game, White could be the 22nd commitment in the class, as many BONizens believe.

Horns_bullet_mediumMack Brown speaks. In his first press conference since before Spring Break, Mack Brown spoke about his team and the work left to be done.
  • Brown confirmed that DJ Grant did sprain his ankle, but disagreed with trainer Kenny Boyd's assessment that Grant would not participate in the remainder of spring practice, with Brown calling him day-to-day.
  • After horrible kick coverage last season, Brown says they are working harder on that than they have before.
  • Fozzy Whittaker is quickly developing a reputation as injury-prone and "tweaked" his ankle during the first part of spring practice.
  • In other injury notes, early enrollee defensive end Dominique Jones won't practice this spring, but fellow early enrollee Kenny Vaccaro is participating in individual workouts.
  • The coaches are no longer worried about the weight of 250-pound Cody Johnson, instead focusing on his body fat percentage, with Brown commenting that the staff doesn't want him weak from only eating salads.
  • Perhaps the most interesting news is that Ben Alexander has lost weight and is playing impressively. Of course, that leads to speculation that Alexander has looked good because Kheeston Randall hasn't, but it would greatly help the defensive tackle rotation if Alexander could have a breakout senior season, particularly against a team like Oklahoma State that runs the ball well.
Horns_bullet_mediumMatthews down to two. Good news for Longhorn fans on Wednesday, as offensive lineman Jake Matthews told Burnt Orange Beat that he narrowed his list to two schools ($): Texas and Texas A&M. He's planning on visiting both schools soon, though he hasn't scheduled a visit to Texas as he has with the Aggies, with whom he has a higher level of comfort, partly due to his brother's attendance. Seemingly tired of the process, Matthews says that he will likely commit before having a chance to visit OU or USC, who haven't been completely eliminated, it seems.

Matthews will try to make it down to Texas in an effort to develop a higher level of comfort, likely for a practice or the spring game, which will be an extremely important visit. It doesn't seem like recruits have had problems getting comfortable in Austin or with the Texas coaching staff, so expect Texas to close the gap with the Aggies when Matthews does take his visit.

Horns_bullet_mediumWilson speaks, articulately. There might not be a Texas recruit in the history of the program with as interesting a story as Haltom defensive end Reggie Wilson. On Tuesday, at a news conference held in his school library, Wilson made the official announcement of his commitment to Texas. Wilson's maturity and perspective have always shown through in his previous interviews, but his new conference and appearance on "The Drive" clearly demonstrated how remarkably articulate he is ($) for a young man. Wilson sounded off on a number of topics during his interview, including the impact his trip to campus made on his family:
When we got on the campus my mom and dad and brother fell in love with the campus. And the things they offer in the business school and me telling my dad I wanted to major in business. Them being a top five business school in the country and all those things. My mom and my brothers were like yeah I think this is the right school for you.
For Wilson and his family, the considerations went beyond the campus or facilities -- older brother Winston wanted to know what would happen if Reggie got injured:
A major concern was that if he gets out of here and he's in Austin and playing football and he gets a season ending injury, what happens to his scholarship? That was basically what our concern was. And we were told 'Look if Reggie commits to us now, we guarantee him four years of academic scholarship. It's there. The athletic scholarship is there and it's going to be there. We are not going to take it from him.' So basically that was the biggest concern. My parents were concerned about that and I was concerned about that. So it was a snap of a finger to give them a commitment because they satisfactorily answered all of the questions we had.

A concern with Wilson talking about moving back to the Ivory Coast after his football career is that he might leave early for the NFL to have money to send back more quickly. Wilson tried to allay those concerns on Tuesday:

Some players decide to go to the NFL but I'm not one of those people who are going to the NFL [early]. I'm going to go the four years to get my degree. That's the plan I have and I'm not going to change it. You all can look forward to me playing four years of football there.

Finally, Wilson gave insight into the way that Texas coaches deal with blue-chip talent, developing personal relations that may last past the recruiting process, even if the player attends another school:

They're great people, I felt comfortable with them - coach Giles, coach Tolly, every one of them. I feel those are people who are going to be there for me regardless of football, football being there or not. And that's what really drew me closer to them.

Coach Tolly was the main one who got my attention. This is one thing coach Tolly told me, this is the main thing that got my attention, 'If you come to the University or if you don't come here I'll always be your biggest fan.' That really touched me to know that he liked me as a person and not just because I was a top recruit in the state of Texas or the nation, but he liked me as an individual.

Wilson will certainly represent the University of Texas in the best possible way and it will be interesting to hear more interviews with him later, though Mack Brown may well indoctrinate him before anything interesting comes out of his mouth while at Texas.