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Texas player availability: Why Longhorns Fox end Naashon Hughes could break out

And more from the team, including some ping-pong smack from Dylan Haines.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Texas Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Four Texas Longhorns players met with the media on Tuesday afternoon following the team’s 12th practice of fall camp. Here are the highlights.

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Junior Naashon Hughes could break out at Fox end. The ‘Horns won’t have many seniors in 2017, but so far, Naashon Hughes is the one drawing some early draft buzz as he prepares to enter a critical junior season.

After some offseason weight gain that the school lists at around five pounds and Cedric Golden lists at 30 pounds (and is likely closer to 10-15 pounds), Hughes is now more ready to compete at the point of attack, a previous weakness of his after arriving at Texas as a former high school safety:

Hughes spent the offseason working on his ability to play close to the line of scrimmage, as he was already an extremely effective player moving in space and pursuing plays.

“Basically, pass rushing and getting off of block,” Hughes said of his summer focus. “ I got a little bigger, so running with that new weight and carrying that weight around.”

The result on the field this fall is yet to be determined, but the comment from the team’s starting left tackle is positive and Hughes also won three of the six “Battle for the Belt” competitions in the middleweight division, so his new frame is helping him stand out for the ‘Horns already.

Naashon Hughes congratulates punter Michael Dickson after a “Battle for the Belts” win

If Hughes can build on a season that saw him record 5.5 sacks by showing some pass-rushing moves and stopping the run, he’ll have a big-time 2016 campaign.

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Domingue talks range. LSU graduate transfer kicker Trent Domingue was a huge addition for Texas in in late July, but questions persist about the strength of his leg. On Tuesday, Domingue didn’t try to make any bold claims:

If he says that his range is 52 yards, that probably means that he’s comfortable out to about his career long and hitting consistently from 40-45 yards would be big for Texas in 2016.

In fact, given the question marks surrounding the position prior to Domingue’s arrival on the 40 Acres, even hitting consistently from inside 40 yards would be acceptable in 2016 as the ‘Horns pursue longer-term solutions at place kicker.

And remember how head coach Charlie Strong made his plea for someone to send him a kicker?

Well, it worked:

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Vahe still an option at center. With starting center Zach Shackelford still out with his ankle injury, position coach Matt Mattox continues to evaluate his options beyond sophomore Jake McMillon, the former defensive tackle.

One of those options, as mentioned by head coach Charlie Strong on Saturday, is sophomore guard Patrick Vahe:

However, it sounds like Vahe hasn’t yet made the move to snapping the football during practice, so that could be a positive prognosis for Shackelford or a sign that the coaches want to keep the big, nasty mauler as the primary player used to pull on Power.

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SHOTS FIRED. Sophomore Fox end Breckyn Hager may be the new (likely temporary) ping-pong king at Texas after dethroning Shane Buechele, but safety Dylan Haines doesn’t believe that puts him at No. 1 in the rankings. Or even higher than him:

Oh, snap. That aggression will not stand, man.

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Brandon Jones has a message. By the way, this isn’t related to the player availability on Tuesday afternoon, but this needs to go somewhere:

We’re ready, y’all. We’re ready.