On Monday, Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman announced the two recipients of the team’s new “Freak of the Week” award — sophomore running back Kyle Porter on offense and junior safety DeShon Elliott on defense.
Congrats to @OfficialShon_4 & #KylePorter for playing with tremendous effort & toughness. If you lead like that every day, they will follow. pic.twitter.com/gxtuOL6su6— Coach Tom Herman (@CoachTomHerman) April 4, 2017
The players earned the award for their respective performances in Saturday’s scrimmage. On Thursday, Herman detailed how the players win the award — the offensive and defensive staffs picked the recipients based on game-like grades earned through evaluations on assignment, technique, and effort.
Herman said that all players who grade out at a championship level receive recognition from the staff in front of their peers.
The choice of Porter certainly wasn’t surprising, as the former Katy standout is currently the only healthy scholarship running back on the roster as injuries have taken a big toll on the position this spring.
The 5’11, 215-pounder was a 2016 US Army All-American before quietly committing to Texas just before National Signing Day, then played in 11 games as a freshman, carrying the ball 46 times for 205 yards.
However, Porter often struggled looking comfortable in his transition to the college game, leaving question marks about whether he was a system back created by the prolific rushing attack at Katy or whether he still possesses the upside suggested by his consensus four-star ranking as the No. 11 running back nationally, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Though the Orange-White game in 11 days will certainly provide some perspective on that debate, the returns through spring practice have been good enough to earn the jacked Porter this week’s offensive freak honor.
In practice footage from last Thursday, Porter was effective in team goal-line drills against defensive backs, lowering his shoulder on junior cornerback Kris Boyd before falling forward into the end zone. In the same drill, Porter ran through junior cornerback Holton Hill as well.
The 6’2, 205-pound Elliott, who was known as the Kraken in high school due to his devastating hits, has been an even greater enigma during his time at Texas.
Perhaps the Rockwall product’s most notable accomplishment so far has been dating Charlie Strong’s daughter, as he quickly fell behind after suffering an injury during preseason camp of his freshman season.
Perhaps it was his willingness to take on the entire Baylor team in the 2015 mini-brawl that preceded the big Texas road victory in Waco.
When Elliott did get on the field as a freshman, he made plays as well as memes — two interceptions, a forced fumble, and a pass broken up in limited playing time.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to break into the starting role last season, though he did flash once again, increasing his defensive production to 30 tackles, recording three tackles for loss, one sack, and another interception in addition to four passes broken up.
The biggest moment of his season arguably came in the season opener, when a vicious hit on Notre Dame wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown caused a fumble in the end zone and helped set up the thrilling double-overtime victory.
With the departure of Dylan Haines and senior Jason Hall out for the spring with a hamstring injury, Elliott has taken advantage of his available opportunities by earning a starting spot at safety and playing well enough in practice to earn this week’s defensive award.
Now that Elliott only has two seasons of eligibility remaining, it’s time for him to emerge as an impact player on defense — and a de factor starter, at least — and fulfill all the potential of his remarkable nickname.