A position with extremely limited depth took another hit for the Texas Longhorns, as the school announced on Friday that junior running back Daniel Young suffered a high ankle sprain in practice and is expected to miss several weeks.
The injury comes at a position where the Horns simply can’t afford to have multiple injuries — Texas started preseason camp with only four scholarship players at the position and three of them have suffered injuries in the weeks since.
Fortunately for position coach Stan Drayton and the team as a whole, starter Keaontay Ingram, a sophomore expected to have a breakout season, is on track to return for the season opener against Louisiana Tech in eight days after suffering a bone bruise in his knee during the first scrimmage.
The news isn’t as positive for oft-injured senior Kirk Johnson, who hasn’t received a carry since 2015 — he suffered a sprained shoulder that is expected to keep him out for another month.
So that leaves freshman Jordan Whittington as the only scholarship running back who hasn’t suffered an injury in preseason camp, but even though he’s adjusted quickly, he came to Austin without playing the position previously.
What’s the next step for the coaches? Head coach Tom Herman recently expressed his reluctance to take reps away from freshman wide receiver Jake Smith in the slot to get him time at running back, but it’s probably necessary now. Smith ran for 741 yards and 15 touchdowns at Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale as a senior.
The other option is redshirt freshman walk on Jarrett Smith, a 5’7, 200-pounder who Drayton believes is good enough to get Texas out of a game in case of further injuries.
“He is truly a guy that if that room blows up, he can get us out of a game,” Drayton told Burnt Orange Nation on Thursday. “If we do get in a crunch and he’s available, don’t be surprised if you see him go in a game.”
As a senior, Smith rushed for 1,710 yards and 15 touchdowns at Clear Brook, a 6A high school, but his listed height is generous, so he just doesn’t have the type of long speed that would warrant an FBS scholarship — his personal record in the 100 meters was 11.52.
Senior Mason Ramirez, a former walk on just put on scholarship, just moved to running back from defensive back and ran for around 120 yards and a touchdown in the team’s last scrimmage.