As head coach Tom Herman prepares for his first spring practice with the Texas Longhorns, the school released an updated roster on Monday ahead of the first practice Tuesday.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is that senior running back Roderick Bernard is still on the roster — the Houston-area product suffered a left leg injury last summer that required surgery after he was hit by a car while riding a motorcycle.
Bernard missed the entire season and it was widely believed that his career was over as a result. Without any recent updates on him, it’s difficult to say whether he’s trying to work his way back for his final season, but he is still officially on the team.
The early enrollees also picked their respective numbers — quarterback Sam Ehlinger is wearing No. 11, running back Toneil Carter will don No. 30, and kicker Joshua Rowland chose No. 37.
And, as always, some players have gained weight.
Most notable is All-American junior left tackle Connor Williams, who played last season at a listed 288 pounds, but is now at 320, according to the school. Williams has always preferred to stay on the lean side, but may want to show NFL scouts that he can put on the mass necessary to compete at the next level without losing his athleticism.
After struggling with injuries last season, including a thumb issue, sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele gained 14 pounds, which could help with his durability and allow him to feel more comfortable as a runner.
The competition for Buechele at the quarterback position, Ehlinger, is listed at 225 pounds.
Junior Garrett Gray, who has bounced back and forth between wide receiver and tight end, is up to 230 pounds from 220 and will play tight end once again with the injury to senior Andrew Beck that will reduce his availability for the 15 spring practices.
Gray played on special teams in five games during each of the last two season, but otherwise hasn’t made a dent on the depth chart. He’ll now have an opportunity to see the field at tight end due to lack of available scholarship players.
At wide receiver, junior John Burt is up 11 pounds to 200 after giving up track to focus on football. Sophomore Devin Duvernay gained 10 pounds and is now at 205. Fellow sophomore Lil’Jordan Humphrey is back at the position and is currently checking in at 220 pounds, so a potential move to H-back doesn’t seem imminent.
Along the defensive line, sophomore Malcolm Roach is now at 270 pounds, so he’ll likely play more defensive end this season, though Herman didn’t say that definitively. The same could be true for sophomore Erick Fowler, who is now 260 pounds, but still listed as a linebacker.
The defensive tackles are an area of concern for Herman, especially in terms of conditioning. Sophomore Jordan Elliott and redshirt freshman Chris Daniels are both listed at 330 pounds, while senior Poona Ford is carrying 310 pounds on his 5’11 frame (though he’s listed at 6’0 now).
On Monday, Herman criticized the conditioning of his defensive linemen, so Yancy McKnight and the team’s nutritionists may be working to help some of those players cut weight.
Senior safety Jason Hall continues to gain weight — listed at 216 pounds last season, Hall now weighs 220. The coaching staff will likely look to use him as a box safety and reduce how much range he’s asked to cover in the defensive backfield.
Among the other defensive backs, junior PJ Locke III and sophomore Brandon Jones are both listed at 215 pounds, though both should presumably be able to move better than Hall at that weight. Jones played last season at 192 pounds and was already in good physical condition.
Of course, all of these weights are what the school chooses to provide, so none of this is definitive and the Orange-White game a little more than a month from now will provide an opportunity for fans and writers to see how this team looks in person.