Following the Texas Pro Day on Tuesday at the Longhorn athletic facilities in Austin, head coach Mack Brown spoke with the media about his departing players and the second half of spring practice, now set to begin.
Brown revealed that sophomore wide receiver John Harris and junior linebacker Demarco Cobbs will both be available to participate in drills after missing the first half of spring with injuries. Harris suffered a stress fracture in his foot last fall that was slow to heal and will provide much-needed blocking on the perimeter at wide receiver, while Cobbs was widely expected to step into the starting SAM linebacker position following the departure of Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho.
The return of Cobbs is particularly important since he has so little experience at linebacker, having played safety his freshman year and then missing most of his sophomore season due to his broken arm. He still has that safety speed, which makes him unique among the linebackers currently on campus and his ability off the edge as a blitzer provides plenty of schematic versatility for his mad-scientist defensive coordinator Manny Diaz.
The other breaking news is that early enrollee Alex De La Torre will make the move to fullback, the possibility of which was the subject of much speculation even before redshirt freshman Chet Moss was held out of spring because of academic and/or personal reasons. It's possible that his greatest upside is that fullback. DLT is undersized for linebacker, but not so for fullback, which could also hide his lack of strong athleticism.
Finally, senior all-purpose back DJ Monroe will work some at wide receiver in an attempt to better disguise his intents when he comes into the game. It's an experiment the coaches tried in the past early in his career that failed because of his poor hands.
Monroe caught the only ball thrown to him in team drills at the second open practice, but his only game experience there is on swing passes. Whether Monroe has developed the concentration to consistently catch the ball remains a serious question mark given the past failures, but it's still a smart move that could pay dividends by making the offense less predictable when he comes into the game in 2012.