On National Signing Day, Texas Longhorns wide receiver Hemphill-Mapps sent out a tweet thanking Texas:
The tweet was the closet thing to confirmation that Hemphill-Mapps will leave the program since multiple outlets reported in late January that he would seek his transfer.
During head coach Tom Herman’s National Signing Day press conference, Herman confirmed Hemphill-Mapps’ departure and wished him success wherever he ends up. Beyond that, his only comment was, “Next man up.”
The 6’1, 185-pounder redshirted during his first season in Austin, then broke out during the Orange-White game in 2017 with five catches for 85 yards. The ascension of Hemphill-Mapps continued throughout fall camp and into his Texas debut against Maryland, which included a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown and seven catches for 69 yards. His combination of reliable hands, good route running, and elusiveness in the open field suggested a bright future with the Longhorns.
However, Hemphill-Mapps suffered a setback the next week against San Jose State when he was suspended for the first half due to a violation of team rules. Still, against Kansas State, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State, he worked himself into the starting lineup, registering 12 catches for 121 yards against the Wildcats.
Unfortunately, Hemphill-Mapps suffered his second big setback against the Cowboys when he injured his knee. For the next three games, he didn’t have much impact until he made a big play down the field against West Virginia.
With senior Armanti Foreman finally practicing well leading up to the Texas Bowl, he received most of the targets and playing time against Missouri. Hemphill-Mapps only caught one pass for two yards and carried the ball twice for a loss of seven yards.
Hemphill-Mapps finished the season third on the team with 37 catches for 402 yards, while adding eight carries for 32 yards on the ground and 17 punt returns for 180 yards and the touchdown against Maryland.
Texas still has junior Lil’Jordan Humphrey in the slot, but Humphrey was suspended for the Texas Bowl and will have to work his way back into favor with the coaching staff, though he’s said he plans on remaining in the program.
The other options are sophomore Davion Curtis, who has played in only one game during two seasons on campus, and possibly Jordan Pouncey, who redshirted this season.
The coaches were unable to find a pure slot receiver in the 2018, as Justin Watkins and Rondale Moore were both committed to the Longhorns at different points in the cycle, but both ultimately decommitted. On National Signing Day, Louisiana product Lawrence Keys III signed with Notre Dame.
Down the stretch, the Longhorns were able to land Yoakum standout Joshua Moore, who isn’t a typical slot receiver. However, Moore could play the position because of his short-area quickness and experience as a runner — he often took direct snaps in high school. Since Hemphill-Mapps also served as the punt returner last season and Moore was a difference-maker in that phase at Yoakum, he should have a chance to compete for that job with the ‘Horns.