It's been like clockwork: familiar names have been the topic discussion since the spring game and few others have been perceived worthy of the headlines. When asked during Saturday's media availability about who's not being talked about, but should be, Charlie Strong didn't hesitate to mention a handful of talents often without praise. Wide receivers Jacorey Warrick and Jake Oliver, along with defensive tackles Poona Ford and Chris Nelson are the guys Strong noted players standing out throughout the summer and training camp.
"Jake Oliver and Petey Warrick are the two guys on offense I would say we're not asking enough about," Strong said. "On defense, it's Poona and Chris Nelson, the two guys inside for us right now. They are doing an unbelievable job and they're doing an unbelievable job from their leadership ability."
In regards to Ford and Nelson, Strong said the two have stepped up at times like in meetings, where each of the two will have two of the younger lineman huddled around them while Ford and Nelson help explain the defense. As Strong often discusses, Texas’ ability to get pressure on the quarterback will be critical for its success in 2016. Texas exchanged havoc-wreaker Hassan Ridgeway for seven fresh faces on the defensive line so not only will Ford, Nelson and Paul Boyette Jr.’s assistance in getting the young talent up to speed be pivotal, but their on-field productivity will need to take a significant step. Ford recorded 39 tackles and 2.5 sacks as a sophomore, while Nelson played in eight games as a redshirt freshman, adding seven tackles and one sack.
The receivers Strong noted seem less likely, though, to have much of a noticeable impact on the game one the season actually kicks off. Oliver, who Strong said, “is a guy who’s had a really good camp,” has yet to haul in a single in-game reception after not playing as a freshman and playing in eight games last season; mostly on special teams. Texas is in no shortage of receiver options and that depth could limit Oliver to special teams and not much more in 2016.
Warrick on the other hand, could see his share of reps in the slot in an offense that will have multiple receivers on essentially every down excluding short yardage situations. The senior receiver, who caught passes in three games last season, including four receptions for 42 yards against Kansas, is the one Strong raved about most favorably.
"The guy you're not asking about who's probably having a really good camp right now, if you look at it on offense is Jacorey Warrick," Strong said. I think he's having an unbelievable camp right now. He's making all the catches and is just practicing so hard. You feel him."
Additionally, Strong mentioned junior receiver Dorian Leonard, saying he “has came a million miles.” There’s evidence to that end in the form of this amazing touchdown reception, in which Leonard rose up over Kris Boyd and plucked the ball out of the air.
Whether or not these guy’s presences will still be felt when the season actually begins, but on a team with so much high-profile youth, it’s good to heard Strong point praise towards some of the less often mentioned vets.