The plan to get Texas Longhorns sophomore wide receiver Jake Smith back on the practice field this week for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury several weeks ago got derailed by sickness this week, according to Chip Brown of Horns247.
Brown reports that the illness isn’t COVID-19, but it will keep Smith from making his season debut this weekend in Lubbock against Texas Tech since he couldn’t practice.
Smith earned the starting job at the H position during preseason camp after recording 25 catches for 275 yards and six touchdowns as a freshman in 2019.
Texas is thin at the position now with redshirt freshman wide receiver Jordan Whittington out for several more weeks following surgery to correct a slight meniscus tear suffered in the season opener against UTEP. Freshman Dajon Harrison also opted out of the season while fellow freshman Kelvontay Dixon didn’t play against the Miners after an ankle injury in preseason camp.
When Whittington went down late in the first half, walk-on Kai Money filled in, catching four passes for 26 yards and a touchdown.
However, Brown reports that it is graduate transfer Brenden Schooler who will receive the start in the slot against Texas Tech. Schooler arrived on campus a month ago after transferring from Oregon to Arizona to play with his brother, current Texas Tech linebacker Colin Schooler, then moving on when the Pac-12 planned to push the football season to the spring.
Despite only a handful of practices to learn the offense, Schooler still contributed against UTEP with two catches for 65 yards and a 40-yard touchdown. Schooler also made a key block on the longest run of freshman Bijan’s Robinson’s young career at running back and earned a starting role on punt coverage as a gunner.
“The credit really belongs to Brenden and his commitment level to being game ready by the first game,” Texas coach Tom Herman said.
Now the 6’2, 192-pounder will have to make his biggest contributions inside — or Texas will simply continue to use a lot of 12 personnel — with a better understanding of the route tree. Schooler’s two catches were both on simple hitches when he got favorable cushions. What was most impressive about Schooler’s two catches, though, was his ability to make that defender miss, a skills that should serve him well in the slot.
For offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich, the move back sense because Schooler has so much speed.
Yurcich considers him a quick study as well, a trait aided by Schooler’s dedication — The Athletic reported that Schooler spent 30 minutes a day meeting individually with the Texas offensive staff in order to learn the playbook more quickly.
So expect a much more acclimated Schooler, as he’s now had more practice time in pads in the last two weeks preparing for Texas Tech than he did leading up to the UTEP game.