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Texas WR Devin Duvernay is a breakout candidate as Big 12 schedule looms

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Sleeping on the team’s fastest player would be a mistake.

Texas v California Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

With the rather unexpected emergence of Texas Longhorns senior wide receiver Jacorey Warrick at one inside position, speedy freshman Devin Duvernay’s path to playing time hasn’t been as easy as expected.

However, with the new, uptempo offense run by Sterlin Gilbert producing an average of nearly 84 plays a game and the Big 12 Conference schedule looming, Duvernay will have plenty of opportunities to see the field.

So don’t be surprised if he takes advantage.

Against Cal, Duvernay saw extended playing time in the second half, recording his first career catch in converting a 3rd and 10 to extend a drive that eventually resulted in the game-tying field goal.

The fact that he was even on the field late in the fourth quarter of a close game indicates that he’s increasingly earning Gilbert’s trust.

Duvernay’s role has steadily grown throughout the first three games of the season, with the contest against UTEP marking the first time that he flashed in a Texas uniform when senior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes hit Duvernay on a 44-yard completion called back for offensive pass interference.

Despite the dubious call, the former Baylor pledge and attempted signee showed off remarkable body control in twisting his body to make the catch, something that he did frequently in high school.

But body control and speed to burn may not even be his best qualities as a receiver.

"When you watch some of these track guys, a lot of them have trouble translating from the track to the football field, but Duvernay never slows down,” said head coach Charlie Strong during preseason camp. “Once he makes that cut — some guys have to sit down in their cut — he plants and he’s gone."

With that 10.27 speed in the 100 meters, Duvernay has also received a look on kickoff returns, gaining 130 yards on six returns against Cal. Overall, that number isn’t particularly remarkable, but it’s well better than the current overall team average of 17.5 yards per return.

The 5’11, 195-pounder also has excellent instincts with the ball in his hands, so don’t expect him to consistently make the type of mental errors that currently plague sophomore cornerback Kris Boyd in all phases — he should be able and willing to maximize yardage.

Warrick’s play has been one of the feel-good stories of non-conference play, but the ‘Horns will run enough plays to need both while Duvernay attempts to make an impact on special teams.

Here’s betting that the nation’s No. 4 wide receiver in the 2016 class takes advantage of his opportunities.