Texas Longhorns redshirt junior safety Montrell Estell hopes that a position change will provide a late jumpstart to his career on the Forty Acres.
The 6’1, 196-pounder recently went to the coaching staff to discuss switching to wide receiver, where the Longhorns are currently thin at the X position with junior Brennan Eagles opting out of the Alamo Bowl and declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft. Graduate transfer Tarik Black is currently the starter at X, but may opt to turn pro after the season.
“We’ve made it a point to never really force a player to play any position that he didn’t want to play and so Montrell, who was a tremendous wide receiver in high school, wants to try his hand at playing receiver,” head coach Tom Herman said on Wednesday.
At Hooks, Estell was one of the top two-way players in the state, earning two-time District MVP honors in 7-3A DII before signing with the Horns as a member of the 2017 recruiting class. In 2016, Estell totaled 1,503 yards on offense with 875 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 74 carries (11.8 ypc), as well as 628 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 29 receptions (21.7 ypr).
Senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger noted Estell’s athleticism when discussing his newest wide receiver.
“Montrell is an incredible athlete and can run by anybody,” Ehlinger said on Wednesday. “I don’t think he’s played offense since high school, so he’s got a lot of the fine-tune details of receiver to work out, but he has a chance to be to be really good.”
In high school, Estell reported a 4.39 40-yard dash, but also provided a more reliable measurement of his athleticism when he won the Class 3A triple jump in 2017 with an effort of 45 feet, 8.5 inches.
At safety, Estell wasn’t receiving much playing time this season, appearing in four games and making two tackles. In 2019, Estell was a bigger part of the rotation due to injuries, starting in two games and playing all 13 games while recording 26 tackles and an interception.
Estell got some good-natured ribbing from some of his defensive teammates during practice on Tuesday when they saw him in an orange jersey — Estell tried to warm up with them, but Josh Thompson pushed him back over the offensive side. It was all in good fun, though.
“It’s nice seeing him out there — he’s happy, he’s having fun, and that’s what you like to see in those type of guys.” Thompson said. “As long as they’re having fun and working.”