Wide receiver Devin Duvernay and defensive back Brandon Jones — both of whom are among the exceptionally small Texas Longhorns senior class — both received and accepted invites to the Senior Bowl later this season. They also confirmed that they plan to play alongside their fellow Longhorns in whichever postseason bowl game for which Texas football eventually qualifies, along with senior defensive end Malcolm Roach, according to Joe Cook of Inside Texas and Kaelen Jones of The Athletic.
The other senior with strong NFL Draft prospects, wide receiver Collin Johnson, is currently recovering from a hamstring issue that caused him to miss the last two games and will result in him missing the regular-season finale against Texas Tech this Friday. Johnson didn’t participate in Tuesday’s media availability, but Duvernay believes that Johnson will play if he’s healthy.
And that makes sense — not only is Johnson a Longhorn legacy, but the bowl game would also represent his last opportunity to play football with his older brother Kirk, a senior running back for Texas.
The likelihood of having those players available is newsworthy for the Longhorns given the recent trend in college football in which upperclassmen and other NFL eligible athletes elect to forego competing in the postseason. Most often the players cite the risk of injury and potentially missing out on an NFL-caliber opportunity.
Notably, in the lead-up to the 2017 Texas Bowl against Missouri, two Longhorns announced they’d opted out of their chance to play in the NCAA postseason — former defensive back Deshon Elliot, who was drafted in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens, and Conner Williams, who was taken 50th overall in 2018 by the Dallas Cowboys.
“It was a very difficult decision that I put a lot of thought into,” Elliott said in a statement at the time, according to NBC Sports, before thanking those most influential on his college career.
“While it comes with some sadness, it also comes with the excitement of moving to the next challenge,” Williams, who left after his junior season, said in a statement at the time, according to USA Today, before he, too, thanked those most influential on his college career.