The depth at cornerback for the Texas Longhorns took another hit on Thursday when head coach Tom Herman announced that freshman Josh Thompson won’t travel with the team for the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers due to a concussion.
Thompson is one of the top special teams contributors for the ‘Horns this season and was serving as the back up to junior Davante Davis with the suspension of Holton Hill.
At linebacker, junior college transfer Gary Johnson was cleared on Thursday and practiced with the team for the first time since suffering a stinger against Kansas last weekend. Johnson has emerged as a key piece of the Lightning package that defensive coordinator Todd Orlando has used to improve the pass defense and get more speed on the field.
Herman wasn’t sure about whether junior left tackle Connor Williams would start on Saturday in his return from injury, but was generally upbeat about his performance in practice.
“He looked good — really good,” Herman said. “Feels good. Again, the knee hasn't really been an issue, it's been some back and groin soreness. Just some getting back into the shape of playing and practicing an entire practice.”
Williams may not be able to return and play ever snap after missing seven games, but Herman said the coaching staff is ready to take him out for a series or two at a time if he needs to rest at any point.
As Williams works to return from his knee issues, redshirt freshman wide receiver Reggie Hemphill-Mapps is also working back from his own problems.
“Last week he did ding his knee up a little bit again,” Herman said. “We felt like it was better for him to just go back and return punts and get healthy, because we knew we were going to need him this week. It was if we could win the game without him playing receiver and we felt like we could. So it was a health thing. He dinged it like last Wednesday.”
Having a healthier Hemphill-Mapps could be a big boon for the Longhorns offense — he’s the most dynamic playmaker on the team in the short passing game and with the offensive line struggling, the ability to get him the ball in space is key to the offense playing well.