Two Texas Longhorns players are doubtful for Saturday’s season opener against the UTEP Miners, head coach Tom Herman said on Monday — freshman wide receiver Kelvontay Dixon, who has an ankle injury, and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Isaiah Hookfin, who has a shoulder injury.
“We’re going to try to get them into practice, both of those guys, on Tuesday,” Herman said. “To get them game ready by Saturday I think is not likely, but we’re not ruling it out.”
A one-time Arkansas commit, Dixon is the younger brother of junior running back Keaontay Ingram and was competing for a spot on the depth chart at Z receiver. When he is fully healthy, Dixon has a chance to earn playing time this season because Herman expects to play 80 to 90 percent of his scholarship roster and because Dixon’s speed on the outside makes him a dangerous home-run threat.
Hookfin was one of the surprises of preseason camp, competing with redshirt senior Denzel Okafor for a spot among the starting five at right guard. Okafor has worked at both right guard and right tackle, but is currently the starter at right guard next to redshirt sophomore Christian Jones, who earned the nod at right tackle.
Absent from the depth chart at the tackle position is redshirt sophomore Reese Moore, who needs arthroscopic surgery due to loose cartilage in his knee, which he tweaked in practice. Moore has only appeared briefly in this Texas career — for several late snaps in the Alamo Bowl against Utah — in part because of issues with his knee. Originally injured in high school, Moore underwent a similar knee surgery last season.
Texas will have redshirt sophomore linebacker Ayodele Adeoye available against UTEP following a shoulder injury that he suffered in a drill during preseason camp. Adeoye was competing for the starting job at middle linebacker, but is now listed as a co-backup with former walk-on Cort Jacquess behind junior Juwan Mitchell.
Mitchell suffered a stinger during preseason camp, as did redshirt sophomore wide receiver Al’Vonte Woordard, but both are now back practicing.
Aside from the short-term injuries to Dixon and Hookfin, Texas is down eight scholarship players — four due to injuries or medical conditions and four due to opt outs. That leaves the Longhorns with 74 scholarship players, four of them former walk ons, in a season that features a loose 53-man roster minimum put in place by the Big 12.
Herman would like to see the ACC and SEC adopt similar policies as the three Power Five conferences attempt to hold the season.
“I think it’s important that if we want to put our best foot forward in the postseason, as well, that the other two Power Five conferences are aligned in that philosophy as well,” Herman said. “Because I think it can go either way in terms of, are we trying to win the game or are we trying to play the game? I think that adds some additional questions. It appears as though our conference leadership has answered those questions and the 53-able body number is here to stay and we’ll adjust accordingly.”