The Texas Longhorns 2015 Signing Class has been referred to as the class that will turn around Texas. Well, in South bend we got our first look at them against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish -- and while the team's performance wasn't too impressive -- multiple freshman saw action and many came away looking .
Texas burned fifteen redshirts on Saturday night. Here is how they performed (in order of 247Sports Composite rankings).
Malik Jefferson, MLB - Jefferson, the No. 1 outside linebacker coming out of high school, played middle linebacker for the Horns and did a mighty fine job. Jefferson was arguably the best player on defense coming out of his career debut with 9 total tackles (5 unassisted, 4 assisted), 2.5 tackles for loss (for 7 yards) and laid a big hit on a Notre Dame RB.
Anthony Wheeler, OLB - The physical freak out of Dallas Skyline played sparingly, but did get credit for one assisted tackle. Wheeler is behind redshirt freshman Edwin Freeman at the weakside linebacker spot.
Chris Warren, RB - Warren got his chance to carry the ball in the second half but the offensive line couldn't open up any holes. Warren had 3 carries for 4 yards and is the No. 3 back on the depth chart.
Holton Hill, CB - Hill came into Texas as the highest-rated cornerback but got jumped on the depth chart by other freshmen after his knee injury in fall camp. No. 4 on the depth chart behind two upperclassmen and freshman Davante Davis, Hill burned his redshrit on Saturday, but did not log any stats.
Kris Boyd, CB - Kris Boyd received plenty of buzz all fall camp and backed it up against Notre Dame. The Gilmer product might have been the second-best freshman on Texas' sideline last night (behind Malik Jefferson) and always talks a big game, but proved that he can provide some substance behind it, mostly contributing on special teams. Boyd totaled 4 tackles (1 unassisted, 3 assisted) and forced a fumble. Boyd also lit up a punt returner. Safe to say: He will see the field more in the future.
Patrick Vahe, OG - Vahe started on the offensive line and like other freshman starter Conner Williams, he performed adequately and at times better than the upperclassmen. Despite a couple of errors in run blocking, Vahe was solid in pass pro and should have done enough to fend off Brandon Hodges for another week, a fellow member of the 2015 signing class.
John Burt, WR - Burt was one of the few bright spots on offense. While Burt only reeled in one catch, he was targeted five times, ending the night with 48 yards and Texas' longest play of the game. Overall, Burt looked as advertised and that is only good news for the future of this Texas team.
Deshon Elliott, S - Elliott, who is healing a foot (toe) injury, stayed in Austin this past weekend. Because of his injury, he won't be rushed back, but if he can play to his potential, he could eventually challenge junior Dylan Haines for playing time if the former walk on doesn't play better than he did against Notre Dame. -- REDSHIRT PRESERVED --
Ryan Newsome, WR/KR - The coaches would prefer to only have one kickoff return per game and a host of punt returns, but it didn't work out that way for the Horns against Notre Dame. So the speedster from Aledo got his opportunity, returning one kick for 23 yards and another for 18 yards while burning his redshirt in the process.
Cameron Townsend, OLB - Townsend came to Texas and everyone said the same thing: He's skinny. It appears the freshman linebacker will redshirt and focus on tacking on a few pounds with Pat Moorer. -- REDSHIRT PRESERVED --
DeAndre McNeal, WR - A heavy storyline during his recruitment was that Charlie Strong promised him the ball on the first play of the season opener. That didn't happen -- in fact, McNeal didn't even check in on offense. McNeal's only action came on kickoff coverage. He did not record any stats.
Davante Davis, CB - The only member of the Florida Five who made it to campus, Davis impressed in fall camp and was running second unit. Against Notre Dame, he experience some fresmen struggles because in limited snaps, he got beat deep after a pump fake. The play went for more than 30 yards and led to other cornerbacks getting some time to show their game. He didn't record any statistics.
Kai Locksley, QB - Strong's highest-ranked quarterback take of the class is No. 3 on the depth chart and will be redshirted this year, barring something major. -- REDSHIRT PRESERVED --
Kirk Johnson, RB - While Johnson reportedly had some nagging injuries throughout camp, he has fought through them and is healthy. Even with him being healthy, it appears Texas will use Gray, Foreman, and Warren at running back this season. -- REDSHIRT PRESERVED --
Connor Williams, OT - The Coppell product showed how talented he is Saturday in South Bend, as he's now labeled as the best lineman in the starting five. It wasn't a perfect performance, but he looks to be a mainstay on the Longhorn line for a long time.
Charles Omenihu, DE - Labeled as ''The Recruiter" coming in, Omenihu has proved his game on the field just as much as he did off of it. Omenihu played in the later minutes of the game and was around the ball a lot from his Fox position. While he could never quite get there he did manage to receive his first (and only) tackle as a Longhorn -- an assisted tackle in the fourth quarter.
Brandon Hodges, OG - Hodges, the JUCO transfer, is behind Patrick Vahe on the depth chart. If Hodges wants to step foot on the field at Texas, he will need to pass up two younger guys in Patrick Vahe (right guard) or Elijah Rodriguez (back-up left guard). -- REDSHIRT PRESERVED --
Ronnie Major, OT - Major, who wasn't on the depth chart, is in line for a redshirt after just showing up on the 40 Acres a couple of weeks ago. A huge talent with a high upside, Major could eventually become a starting tackle if he takes care of his grades, no guarantee after he needed a late push to qualify. While you might not see much of "Buck Wang" this year, look out, he could be a force in the future. -- REDSHIRT PRESERVED --
Quincy Vasser, DE - One of two Navarro College Bulldogs in this class, Vasser was the third string strong end and didn't get reps in Notre Dame Stadium. Vasser appears as he could be redshirting, which would leave him with two easons of eligibility left. -- REDSHIRT PRESERVED --
Tristian Houston, RB - A running back prospect that the coaches like a lot seems as though he will redshirt. You haven't heard his name a lot through fall camp and he didn't appear on the depth chart. It appears he didn't even travel with the team. He looks to have a bright future, but that future might be down the road. -- REDSHIRT PRESERVED --
Garrett Thomas, OL - A high-upside player, Thomas seems like he's on the redshirt path. After arriving in January, it seemed he had the inside path for a spot in the two-deep, but was beaten out in the fall by the summer arrivals. As one of the few out-of-state guys from this class on campus, for one reason or another, it looks like redshirt will be the plan of action. -- REDSHIRT PRESERVED --
P.J. Locke, S - One of the latest commit to the 2015 class, Locke found himself behind last year's breakout player, sophomore Jason Hall, on the depth chart. Locke didn't get any snaps early, but when the game got out of hand, his shirt wasn't held onto. Locke didn't record any tackles in limited snaps.
Matthew Merrick, QB - Merrick, who was a grayshirt commit until a scholarship opened up, just got on campus this last month. To no surprise, Merrick will be redshirted this year. -- REDSHIRT PRESERVED --
Breckyn Hager, OLB - Texas legacy Hager might have been a little frustrated when he wasn't on the depth chart that released but if he was he took it out on the Notre Dame RB. Hager then proceeded to taunt the running back, which the coaching staff didn't like, but Hager has certainly impressed, as senior linebacker Peter Jinkens said he was "shocked" by Hager's play during fall camp . When the game was final, Hager ended with 2 tackles (1 unassisted, 1 assisted).
Tristan Nickelson, OT - While Nickelson is certainly the biggest guy on the Texas team he might not play the biggest role -- at least this year. The other Navarro Bulldog on the roster, Nickelson traveled with the team but did not see any action. Nickelson is a young transfer and is only a sophomore. A redshirt this year and the coaches could get their four years of development time with him. With a coach who loves to shuffle the offensive line, I'll put it this way: For now -- REDSHIRT PRESERVED --
Michael Dickson, P - The Australian native committed to Texas this summer and ended up making it to campus. While punters are mostly overlooked, securing his commitment could be big. While the freshman struggled early, he found his rhythm (hard not too when you punt 10 times) and finished with an average of 42 yards. While the 42-yard average isn't all too impressive, four of his first six were less than 39 yards going: 28, 28, 35 and 36. He also is pretty good at pinning teams back in their own end of the field, putting three punts inside the 20-yard line and two right on the 20 (no touchbacks). He did struggle early but he did show his potential ripping four punts longer than 50 yards. He could be a secret weapon for Texas -- especially if the offense doesn't improve.