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Texas WR Lorenzo Joe does little things to help Horns win

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Whether it's blocking or just bringing energy and positivity to practice, the sophomore is making crucial contributions to the team.

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

When the first depth chart came out during the fall, Texas Longhorns sophomore wide receiver Lorenzo Joe was a surprising omission from it, prompting the former four-star prospect to send out an incredulous tweet shortly thereafter that he quickly deleted.

Having fallen out of the rotation during the spring and remaining there despite flashing in the Orange-White game when he did play, Joe could have checked out mentally and started thinking about a transfer.

Instead, the 6'2, 202-pounder tried to make sure that he contributed to the team in any way he could.

"He brings so much energy," said head coach Charlie Strong. "He's always positive, always upbeat, got a smile on his face."

Joe kept that attittude despite the fact that for the first four games, the sophomore didn't get any burn at wide receiver at all. But on his only snap against TCU, he caught a difficult, diving touchdown pass from junior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes and became the only Texas player to find the end zone on the day. The catch was the only reason that the Horns were able to avoid the program's worst shutout since 1908.

His role clearly grew during Oklahoma gameweek, as play caller Jay Norvell inserted him as a motion blocker to the weakside and potential receiving threat on the Swoopesdozer package and gave him extensive playing time as an outside wide receiver.

The Abilene Cooper product only caught one pass for nine yards during the game, but picked up a first down on the play and was in good position to make a big play down the sideline until the Oklahoma cornerback was able to tip the pass away at the last second before it found Joe's hands.

And when Swoopes fumbled at the goal line, Joe's hustle helped ensure that Texas didn't lose the football when he recovered it in the end zone. Several plays before, it was Joe who was there to cut Swoopes' celebration short and direct him back to the line of scrimmage to run another play.

Where Joe made the most impact was as a blocker. On the push pass to senior wide receiver Marcus Johnson, it was Joe's block that helped create the small seam to find the end zone. On redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard's 24-yard run on 2nd and 17 after the kickoff return fumble recovery, Joe's block helped set the edge.

After the game, Strong's wasn't surprised about Joe's impact.

"Well, L.J. is always working," he said. "Jerrod can add to it, but the thing about it, you can always count on him, and he's always going to do the little things. He may not be the fastest guy, but you ask him to block, he will block."

Heard echoed his head coach's sentiments.

"I think for everyone, especially on the outside, it's real key for those receivers," said Heard. "When we can get on the outside it's real key for our receivers to make key blocks. Lorenzo knew his assignment. Like Coach Strong has been saying, he's great at what he does, which is either to catch or block. He's an awesome player."

So look for Joe's role to continue to increase in coming weeks. With a potential identity emerging as a physical, run-heavy football team, the sophomore's ability to turn medium gains into big plays could be a major asset. Don't sleep on his pass-catching ability, either, as Strong noted his reliable hands.

Every team needs players willing to pay attention to detail and do the little things. On Saturday, that was Lorenzo Joe for the Horns.