Coming out of a five-hour, four-overtime game against the Oklahoma Sooners played on a hot day in the Cotton Bowl, the Texas Longhorns desperately needed a bye week to get healthy.
After taking Wednesday and Saturday off last week, in addition to the normal Monday off during game week, Texas head coach Tom Herman was optimistic about the injury outlook during his media availability on Monday.
“Overall, our injury situation is improving quite a bit if everything stays the way that it is and COVID doesn’t rear its ugly head,” Herman said
The Longhorns currently have two players who are out for the season in freshman wide receiver Troy Omeire (torn ACL), and redshirt sophomore linebacker Adyodele Adeoye (shoulder). There are also three players with longer-term injuries who are expected back at some point this season — redshirt freshman wide receiver Jordan Whittington (hip flexor strain), freshman offensive tackle Jaylen Garth (chest), and redshirt sophomore linebacker Luke Brockermeyer (turf toe).
Of those three injuries, the latest injury suffered by Whittington is the most significant for the team due to his unfortunate recent history and the lack of depth at slot receiver.
“Jordan Whittington has a very, very freak strain of his hip flexor, and when I say hip flexor I know everybody wants to point probably down to his previous hip issues — this is more related to a hit he took either in the side or the back that strained some of the hip flexor muscles that insert into the vertebrae somewhere near the low back area. So, that is a non-surgical treatment; that’s rest for a couple weeks, let that strain heal,” Herman said.
It’s the latest setback for a talented player who underwent two hernia surgeries last season following a similar surgery in high school that limited him to only one half of action against Louisiana Tech in the 2019 season opener.
After starting in the slot against UTEP to open the 2020 season, Whittington suffered a minor meniscus tear that required surgery and kept him out for the following two games.
Now the mounting concern is that he’s simply prone to injuries, but Herman pointed out that Whittington still has plenty of opportunities ahead of him to play college football and the most recent injuries are much less severe than the surgeries that kept him out for so long last season.
“It is discouraging and we feel for him and but my message to him is he’s got a long career [in front of him]. He redshirted last year. This year doesn’t count — you know, not that anybody wants to be in college for six years, I don’t think that’s anywhere near in the plans for J-Whitt — but he’s got a lot of football ahead of him,” Herman said.
Three players, redshirt senior safety Chris Brown (shoulder), graduate transfer wide receiver Brenden Schooler (right thigh contusion), and redshirt freshman tight end Brayden Liebrock (shoulder) are expected back at practice on Tuesday. Schooler’s contusion is significant enough that it’s been drained several times.
Sophomore wide receiver Jake Smith (hamstring) practiced several times last week after he aggravated his injury during pregame warmups against Oklahoma and wasn’t able to play for the third time this season. Redshirt junior Jack Reese Leitao (knee), sophomore safety Tyler Owens (hamstring), and junior safety Caden Sterns (turf toe) all practiced for the first time on Sunday in a development that Herman called “encouraging.”