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Updates from Steve Sarkisian’s Tuesday press conference

An update on Jalen Catalon, Cam Williams pushing for a spot in the top five offensive linemen, and a big weekend on the Forty Acres.

NCAA Football: Baylor at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Longhorns were back on the practice field at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Tuesday for the fourth spring practice in cool, foggy conditions that head coach Steve Sarkisian provided a good opportunity for his team to play in wet, slick conditions that they may face at some point in the fall.

It was the first practice since players returned from last week’s spring break, during which the team managed to stay out of the kind of trouble that impacted the Alabama football program.

“Yeah, you guys didn’t write anything,” Sarkisian quipped when asked about his player’s maturity last week.

“It went well, proud of our guys,” he added. “Hey, they’re in college and they need to enjoy spring break, this is being a Division I football player, Power Five football player at the University of Texas. We ask a lot of them. We ask a lot of them as athletes, we ask a lot of them as students, and so when they have opportunities to enjoy being in college, hey, I welcome that, but make good choices and decisions and I think our guys did a really nice job with that last week.”

Other updates from Sarkisian:

  • Sarkisian said that Texas took a conservative approach with redshirt freshman quarterback Maalik Murphy before spring break to give him two weeks to recover from his foot issue. Murphy was a full participant in practice on Tuesday and took reps with the second team. In an echo of previous remarks about the open competition at quarterback, Sarkisian said that he hopes Murphy can push redshirt sophomore Quinn Ewers to keep improving.
  • For freshman quarterback Arch Manning, Sarkisian said it was his best of the four practices he’s had with the Longhorns. “Hopefully, we’ve learned from week one and some of the things, whether it’s the pace of play, whether it’s a system, whether it’s recognition of defense, whether it’s ball placement, whatever that looks like, and I thought today definitely was his best,” Sarkisian said.
  • Sophomore cornerback Jaylon Guilbeau was not a participant in practice on Tuesday as he continues his rehab from a knee injury that Sarkisian said has not experienced any setbacks.
  • Senior safety Jalen Catalon is limited because of another shoulder procedure that Sarkisian declined to describe other than saying “we had to go in and clean a few things up” in an effort to ensure Catalon’s availability in the fall.
  • After losing some weight and getting stronger, sophomore offensive lineman Cam Williams is pushing for a spot among the top five linemen. Sarkisian didn’t specify, but he’s likely talking about Williams competing with sophomore DJ Williams at guard. While Williams is well known for his combination of size and agility, Sarkisian also mentioned the football IQ of Willams and noted the commitment he and offensive line coach Kyle Flood have had to avoid pigeonholing players to a single position. At Alabama, Sarkisian recalled, Evan Neal played left guard and then right tackle before moving to left tackle and eventually becoming the No. 7 pick in last year’s NFL Draft.
  • One player drawing buzz from teammates already in spring practice is senior linebacker David Gbenda, who is competing to replace DeMarvion Overshown at the Will position. Sarkisian said Gbenda had his best offseason since he’s been at Texas. In addition to battling Gbenda for the starting role, players like Morice Blackwell, Anthony Hill, and Liona Lefau also project as potentially key special teams players, too.
  • Officially listed at 213 pounds, Blackwell is close to the weight that Overshown fluctuated at after moving from safety, according to Sarkisian. “I think Mo’s maturing and as we mature you really dedicate yourself to your diet and what you’re doing,” Sarkisian said. “I think we’re starting to see that transformation in him. He’s a heck of a player. I love the competitive nature of Mo. We asked a lot of them as a true freshman on special teams. He plays violent, he plays tough. I think he plays the way we want to play football and he provides a lot of versatility. He is working at the weak inside linebacker spot, but we’re playing him at Sam in the base defense and he’s really good coming off the edge. He’s really good on special teams. And he’s very intentional in the way that he plays the game.”
  • At cornerback, Sarkisian mentioned the versatility of sophomore Austin Jordan to play nickel in addition to backing up senior Ryan Watts at boundary cornerback, in part because of improved depth across the board at the position, including development from redshirt freshman X’Vion Brice and the competitiveness of early enrollee Malik Muhammad.
  • Texas has had a job opening posted for an offensive special assistant to the head coach and could also replace the role that Gary Patterson filled, but hasn’t made a hire yet. “I never close the door on those types of positions,” Sarkisian said. “There’s a lot of a lot of really good coaches that for whatever reason, sometimes are out of work for a year, so keep the line of communication open. Some guys are still trying to figure out what they want to do and if this is something they want to do, and if it’s a good fit, we’ll bring them in.”
  • The Longhorns have a big weekend scheduled for the Forty Acres with San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, a Texas alum, serving as the keynote speaker for the coaches clinic on Friday and a Junior Day scheduled for high school recruits on Saturday. “It’ll be fun to just be around it and I think that energy not only for the staff is beneficial, but I think we’re gonna go out to practice on Saturday and there’s gonna be a lot of people there,” Sarkisian said. “There’s gonna be coaches, there’s gonna be recruits, there’s gonna be families and sometimes it’s spring ball you’re just practicing, all of a sudden you show up at practice and there’s a fair amount of people there and that should be motivating and create some energy for everybody.”