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Notes from the first Texas spring practice in pads

A handful of high-profile recruits were in attendance on Friday, as well as numerous high school coaches.

Herb Hand coaches the offensive line
Wescott Eberts

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Longhorns practiced for the third time this spring on Friday as the team was finally able to don pads following the two NCAA-mandated practices in shorts.

It was a cool morning verging on chilly with the wind, but the sunrise was quite breathtaking:

A significant number of high school coaches were in attendance, as well as some high-profile recruits.

After arriving on Monday, five-star cornerback Kelee Ringo was at practice once again and spent the period of practice open to the media watching the defensive backs go through drills with Director of Recruiting Bryan Carrington. Also in that group was Tyler John Tyler cornerback Kitan Crawford, an emerging Texas target.

Ringo is one of the five-star prospects the Longhorns have a strong shot of landing and the fact that he’s spent nearly his entire spring break in Austin is extremely encouraging.

Another big visitor was Duncanville athlete Ja’Quinden Jackson, who could be the second quarterback take in the 2020 class or end up at a number of other positions.

2021 Fort Worth All Saints Episcopal prospects James and Tommy Brockermeyer were there with their father, Blake, who played offensive line at Texas. Texas offensive tackle commit Jaylen Garth watched co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Herb Hand work with his position group, too.

Another big-time 2021 prospect was on campus — No. 1 inside linebacker Kendrick Blackshire, a Mesquite Horn standout.

Freshman linebacker De’Gabriel Floyd was in a non-contact jersey and didn’t go through the defensive drills with his teammates during the window open to the media. Due to stingers dating back to high school, Floyd had a recent MRI. Now the medical staff is determining a treatment plan for him.

After suffering a Grade 1 hamstring strain on Wednesday, sophomore cornerback Anthony Cook was not at practice. He’s expected back after spring break and will remain in Austin next week to receive treatment.

The good news is that redshirt freshman defensive tackle Keondre Coburn was in pads and participating after missing Monday’s practice due to kidney issues. He only went through individual drills and will have his blood levels tested once again.

On the defense, the most notable development was sophomore B.J. Foster working with the ones at nickel, along with redshirt sophomore cornerback Kobe Boyce, who is still ahead of sophomore Jalen Green to earn the starting job opposite of sophomore Anthony Cook. As expected, senior Jeffrey McCulloch is the starting Rover next to redshirt freshman Ayodele Adeoye.

Senior Malcolm Roach, who is now up to 290 pounds, is the starter at defensive end, along with junior Ta’Quon Graham. The expectations are high for Graham this season and he certainly looks the part after his second year of winter conditioning under Yancy McKnight.

On offense, redshirt junior J.P. Urquidez is now working at guard, perhaps because Texas is deeper at offensive tackle this spring than it is at guard. Or it could be a permanent move for a player who didn’t play last season and has only appeared in two games during his career. Redshirt freshman Rafiti Ghirmai is taking reps as the second-team center, a position change that could help him get on the field next season as the replacement for senior Zach Shackelford.

Otherwise, there wasn’t much to report offensively except that redshirt freshman quarterback Casey Thompson and freshman quarterback Roschon Johnson aren’t as accurate as junior Sam Ehlinger. The ball also doesn’t come out as cleanly and consistently as it does from Ehlinger, though those observations are based on only a handful of throws.

And though it doesn’t mean that much in terms of making any evaluation from it, seeing Ehlinger complete a pass to five-star freshman Bru McCoy was a highlight.

In the closed portion of practice, the coaches were able to run the circle drill with the players back in pads.