With the 2016 season now in the rear view mirror, let’s take a look back at how much the true freshmen contributed and produced in their first season as Longhorns.
We’ll split this analysis up in to two different posts, starting with the offense.
Below is a table that lists out each freshmen offensive player’s participation for each game showing whether they played on ‘offense’, ‘special teams’, or ‘did not play’ in the specific game.
Complete season stats are listed below the table as well.
— QB Shane Buechele: 236/391 (60.4%), 2,958 Yds, 21 Tds, 11 Ints, 136 QB Rating
96 Rush Att, 161 Yds (335 gained, 174 lost), 2 Tds
— RB Kyle Porter: 46 Rush Att, 205 Yds (217 gain, 12 lost), 0 Tds
2 Rec, 10 Yds, 2 KR, 28 Yds (14,5 Avg, long of 19)
— WR Collin Johnson: 28 Rec, 315 Yds (long of 40 Yds), 3 Tds
— WR Devin Duvernay: 20 Rec, 412 Yds (long of 80 Yds), 3 Tds
12 KR, 257 Yds (21.42 Avg, long of 28 Yds)
— RB/WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey: 2 Rec, 15 Yds (long of 8 Yds)
1 PR, 0 Yds, no Rush Att/Yds
— Zach Shackelford: Starting Center
— Denzel Okafor: Reserve Offensive Lineman
— Jean Delance: Reserve Offensive Lineman
Of the eight true freshmen listed above that saw action this year, five ended up contributing at least relatively consistently on offense throughout the season.
Shane Buechele was, of course, the Longhorns’ starting quarterback for the entire season. Zach Shackelford started most of the games at center, a position the previous Texas staff was left scrambling to fill after former Longhorns center Jake Raulerson transferred to Arkansas during the offseason.
Wide receivers Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay both played in almost every game of the season, respectively, and each made a handful of plays throughout the season, though both struggled to find consistent production in Sterlin Gilbert’s offense.
And running back Kyle Porter was needed mainly as a reserve to spell D’Onta Foreman once Chris Warren went down just when Texas was beginning conference play in early October.
All five of these freshmen offensive players were contributors on offense throughout the season, and all five will likely see an increased role in some form or fashion next season moving forward.
As for the three freshmen not mentioned above (Okafor, Humphrey, & Delance), their freshmen campaigns played out a bit differently...
Both Denzel Okafor and Lil’Jordan Humphrey predominantly saw time on special teams as both played in a total of 10 games but played on offense in just two. Neither will be eligible to apply for a redshirt for this past season (seems obvious, but just to clarify), and the hope is both will see increased roles starting next season as sophomores.
Okafor will compete for a spot in the the two-deeps along the offensive line in 2017, and Lil’Jordan Humphrey will likely be kicked back out to wide receiver and be utilized as a pass-catcher in Tom Herman’s version of the spread offense.
Though it’s not necessarily uncommon for first year players to be deemed special team contributors, it’s fair to question whether or not it was worth burning the redshirts for both Okafor and Humphrey.
Given that Texas wasn’t as deep as any coaching staff would have liked across the offensive line, I guess an argument could be made (although weak) for why Okafor saw action, though he was mainly just blocking on special teams.
As for Humphrey, reasons for inserting him onto the field and effectively burning his redshirt this season were also unclear.
Considering how deep Texas was at receiver, and how little he contributed as a receiver, there wasn’t a need for Humphrey as a pass-catcher. And even after the previous Texas staff moved him to running back in an attempt to bolster the depth at the position once Warren got injured, Humphrey failed to receive a single snap as a running back while back-up quarterback Tyrone Swoopes saw a handful (though small) amount of
unsuccessful snaps at running back later in the season.
Maybe Humphrey told the staff he wanted to contribute any way he could or maybe Strong was honoring a promise to Humphrey that he’d play as a true freshman, either way, he didn’t end up contributing on offense at a rate anywhere close to what many had expected before the season began.
Again, though their usage was questionable, the hope here is that Humphrey and Okafor will emerge on offense much more next season under Herman and this new staff than he did this past season.
As for reserve offensive lineman Jean Delance, who saw playing time in just two games overall, it looks like his potential redshirt was burned with next to nothing to show for it.
Delance saw his first playing time in the second game of the season against UTEP, though he barely played in that game.
After that UTEP game, Delance would fail to see playing time in any other game other than his time blocking on special teams against Iowa State.
Since it does not appear Delance was held out of the other games due to any type of season-ending injury, it also doesn’t look like he’s eligible to apply for a medical redshirt even though he technically played in less than 30% of the Longhorns’ games this season.
In other words, it looks like Delance’s potential redshirt season was wasted for a minor fill-in job again UTEP and some special teams work against Iowa State. Yeesh...
Offensive True Freshmen Still Eligible for Redshirts
- WR Davion Curtis
- WR Reggie Hemphill-Mapps
- TE Peyton Aucoin
- OL Tope Imade
- OL J.P. Uriquidez
- OL Patrick Hudson
Expect all of these true freshmen to be deemed ‘redshirt freshmen’ in 2017.
For the most part, five of the eight true freshmen that played instead of redshirting this season were truly needed and ended up contributing throughout the year.
For Delance, Okafor, and Humphrey, though, their freshmen seasons appear to have ended with a different narrative.
If Delance really did play in just two games (barely two, at that) his potential redshirt feels like it was carelessly burned. And though Humphrey got on the field in ten games, the skill-position player touched the ball just three times all season with just two of those plays taking place on offense.
All is not lost, however, as Delance, Okafor, and Humphrey still have good potential to contribute and produce at a much higher rate as they head into their second year as Longhorns. And that can be said for many of the soon-to-be sophomores Herman and his staff have inherited.
We’ll take a look at the defensive side of the ball soon in the second edition of this post.