During the San Antonio stop on the Comin' On Strong tour, Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong provided an injury update on two former five-star prospects who could be critical to the Horns finding success on the field this fall:
Charlie Strong said RB Johnathan Gray, LB Jordan Hicks "should be ready to go by mid-June."— kbohls (@kbohls) April 28, 2014
In an odd turn of events, both players suffered season-ending Achilles tendon tears in the 2013 season. For Hicks, who may have his third opportunity at a junior season this fall, the injury came against Kansas State in the season's fourth game, putting him right on the borderline of being able to receive a medical redshirt.
The Ohio product was walking around at the spring game without any noticeable impairment as a result of the injury to his left leg, his second season-ending injury in as many seasons.
When he has managed to stay healthy, Hicks has been a productive player and the lack of a single tackle from the starter on the weak side in the spring game, sophomore Tim Cole, illustrated just how much the Horns could use the 6'2, 240-pounder.
In fact, Hicks was leading Texas in tackles in both the 2012 and 2013 seasons when he suffered his injuries, recording 41 last fall.
As for Gray, his production had decreased against Kansas after a number of strong games to start the season, but was averaging seven yards per carry against West Virginia when he went down with his ruptured Achilles on a catch out of the backfield. He had gained 780 rushing yards with four touchdowns in 2013, including a career-high 141 rushing yards and two touchdowns against Kansas State, the same game in which Hicks was hurt.
Will Hicks and Gray still be as explosive as they were before their respective injuries? The track record for NFL players returning to full strength in terms of production isn't good, but the overall stats of 80 out of 100 people returning to all previous activities is more heartening.
With question marks at both positions, what happens with the two potential stars will help define the 2014 season for the Horns.