With personnel changes looming as one of the most pronounced areas for Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong’s increased involvement with the defense, safeties DeShon Elliott and Brandon Jones are two of the foremost candidates for larger roles.
And based on some tweets sent out by the two players over the last two days, it appears that they’re teasing exactly that:
That zipper face emoji from Elliott? Says a lot by only saying a little — consider that Texas didn’t release a depth chart this week leading up to the road game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
On Monday, Horns247 reported that Jones was receiving reps with the first team in practice, so he looks like he’s in line to receive substantially increased playing time after quickly becoming the most impactful special teams player for the ‘Horns.
“The biggest thing for him is just to learn what to do and how to go do it,” said defensive coordinator Vance Bedford on Wednesday. “Athletically, he has a special talent. Now we've got to develop him mentally.”
The good news is that while Jones has only been on campus since June to begin digesting the Longhorns defensive schemes, he’s known as a quick learner who should be able to handle the mental side of the game better than most freshmen.
In fact, senior safety Dylan Haines said last week that Jones has already spent time working in nickel and dime roles in practice, in addition to playing some safety — the coaches clearly have some trust in his ability to process different positions already.
As for Elliott, his playmaking ability is desperately needed in a secondary that hasn’t made many game-changing plays this season. Actually, his touchdown-saving hit on Notre Dame wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. in the season opener is probably the season’s biggest play by a Texas defensive back.
“DeShon, if you've watched us play this year, he's playing a little bit more and more each game,” Bedford noted.
Expect that to continue.
Jones and Elliott are the future of the position for Texas and it looks like the future is approaching quickly.