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Steve Sarkisian: Every Texas player will be available to practice Wednesday

The Longhorns have a clean bill of health heading into preseason camp, according to the head coach.

NCAA Football: Big 12 Football Media Days Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

AUSTIN — The Texas Longhorns are in good health with the first practice of preseason camp scheduled for Wednesday, according to head coach Steve Sarkisian during his first press conference since Big 12 Media Days last month.

“Every guy on the roster will be available to practice on that first day, which is good,” Sarkisian said.

While Sarkisian did not specify the level of involvement for freshman tight end Will Randle, who underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL last October, that’s good news overall for Texas regarding the rehabilitation of senior wide receiver Isaiah Neyor and for the modest risk the staff took on Arkansas senior safety transfer Jalen Catalon.

After a promising Texas debut in the Orange-White game with a long touchdown catch from quarterback Quinn Ewers, Neyor suffered a season-ending knee injury in preseason camp in 2022, a significant blow to a wide receiver corps that lacked the depth to survive Neyor’s absence.

“Isaiah looks great — he’s fully cleared, ready to go,” Sarkisian said. “He’s been running well this summer. I think he’s in a really good frame of mind.”

The addition of wide receivers coach Chris Jackson from the Jacksonville Jaguars to replace Brennan Marion, who took the offensive coordinator job at UNLV, also benefited Neyor, according to Sarkisian.

“I really think the addition of Coach Jackson has been great for Isaiah,” the Texas head coach said. “Coach Jackson puts a lot of time in a really connecting with his players and he treats him in a way that I think the players respect and there’s a level of maturity there that I think resonated with Isaiah. And a lot of credit to our training staff, a lot of credit to Isaiah, it’s never easy coming off of a significant injury like that. But looking forward to him having an impact on the roster and I think he’s going to be an impactful player for us this fall.”

Following a breakout redshirt freshman season for the Razorbacks in 2020, Catalon suffered a season-ending shoulder injury six games into the 2021 season, then needed reconstructive surgery in the same shoulder after sustaining another injury to it in the season opener last year.

When Catalon arrived on the Forty Acres in January, the medical staff opted for another surgery, causing Catalon to miss spring practice and raising concerns about whether the Mansfield Legacy product can stay healthy for an entire season.

For now, defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkoswki believes that Catalon won’t have to change how he plays to protect it.

“I don’t expect him to play any differently — you’re wired the way you’re wired,” Kwiatkowski said. “The guy’s aggressive, he’s very vocal with his communication, which you need, especially at the safety position, and he’s a guy that loves ball and is all in and everything he does, he does with urgency when he communicates, drills, studying. So he’s been a pleasant addition and I’m looking forward to see what he can bring to our defense.”

Sophomore offensive lineman Cole Hutson also returns after missing spring practice following surgery to repair a torn labrum Hutson played through in 2022, as well as redshirt freshman Connor Robertson, who had surgery on his left wrist during the offseason. Hutson will battle with sophomore DJ Campbell to maintain his starting role as offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Kyle Flood prioritizes improving the consistency on the interior of his position group, a weakness last season.

At running back, hamstring issues caused the medical staff to take a cautious approach with senior Keilan Robinson during the spring, but he’s back to health to serve as the team’s ace special teams player.

Defensively, freshman linebacker Derion Gullette suffered a season-ending knee injury in high school that caused him to miss spring practice and sophomore Jaylon Guilbeau will compete for rotation snaps at nickel back following his own knee injury last fall.