Preseason camp is now a week old for the Texas Longhorns, as the team moves into pads and starts ramping up the physicality with a little more than three weeks until the season opener. Here’s what you need to know about the Horns this week.
You do not want to mess with Chris Brown
The Longhorns have enough talented safeties for several rosters, which means that getting on the field is a difficult task, but one that defensive coordinator Todd Orlando may opt to solve by putting four on the field at a time.
The fourth might be junior Chris Brown, who stepped up as a leader and playmaker during the spring due to injuries and made his case for more playing time in 2019 after registering his first career interception against Iowa State.
On Friday, he made his physicality known — once again — in the Circle Drill:
Not enough Circle Drill?
Here, have some more:
J-Whitt’s got moves
The rise of the freshman running back is one of the most important offseason storylines for the Longhorns and everything about Whittington’s growth remains positive. Check him out dusting up fellow freshman David Gbenda:
I believe you are missing your jock strap, sir.
The type of elusiveness that Whittington showed in this practice rep is precisely the kind of ability that the Horns haven’t had in recent years — this is the genesis of explosive plays.
It says here that Gbenda won’t be the last player juked like this by Jordan Whittington.
Collin Johnson’s abuse is inclusive
The ball skills have always been there for senior wide receiver Collin Johnson, but one of his greatest areas of growth over the last several years is his ability to win at the line of scrimmage or at his stems with his releases Whether that’s asserting his physicality to beat press man coverage off the snap or creating a little bit of extra separation with a Michael Irvin-esque nudge as he makes his break, Johnson is a handful for any defensive back lined up in front of him. Like so:
On Wednesday, head coach Tom Herman confirmed that redshirt freshman Moro Ojomo is working inside at nose tackle. With senior D’Andre Christmas-Giles lingering at the edges of the depth chart and fellow senior Gerald Wilbon dealing with a minor injury, playing time there might be easier to come by for Ojomo, who doesn’t have the mass of the other nose tackles on the roster and may be the youngest redshirt freshman in the country.
Still, there’s a chance that Ojomo could quickly emerge as the No. 2 nose tackle behind fellow redshirt freshman Keondre Coburn. With freshman T’Vondre Sweat also earning praise from his teammates recently, it seems clear that there’s a youth movement happening inside along the defensive line.
Four wide in stride
Four verticals was a key piece of the offense last season and the Horns have even more size and speed to use this season. At times, that may mean taking the tight end off the field in order to insert redshirt freshman wide receiver Malcolm Epps — all 6’6, 245 pounds of him — to complement Johnson, senior wide receiver Devin Duvernay, and sophomore wide receiver Brennan Eagles, one of the breakout stars of the offseason.
After recording one catch last season, it’s telling that the coaching staff wants to get Epps on the field — he’s not a dynamic athlete like Eagles, but he could help replace the ball skills displayed by Lil’Jordan Humphrey last season, albeit in a taller package with less agility.
Speaking of Eagles
That’ll do, kid.
Meanwhile, at cornerback...
Right now, sophomore Jalen Green seems locked in at one starting cornerback spot, leaving the other up for grabs. The odds-on favorite for some time has been sophomore Anthony Cook, but he missed time during the spring with an injury once again and the move of sophomore D’Shawn Jamison back to defense has increased the competition at that spot.
Given all the talk from Texas players and coaches about the speed the defense will put on the field this fall, perhaps it’s no surprise to learn that Jamison is currently working with the first team ahead of Cook. While there are still questions about how well Jamison’s physicality will translate to the college game, there’s no question that he brings more speed — Jamison ran a 4.48 40-yard dash, posted a 3.90 shuttle, and recorded a 38-inch vertical leap in high school.
There are plenty of athletes at the skill positions for Texas who deserve the moniker of “freakish” and Jamison belongs in that group.