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Texas Longhorns football: Fall position changes

A look at where incoming and returning players will be playing with the start of fall camp.


The Texas Longhorns reported for fall camp on Sunday, when head coach Mack Brown spoke with the media and gave some insight into a handful of position changes that will go into effect.

It's always an important part of fall practice, but it's made a little bit more urgent as a result of two transfers during the summer -- redshirt freshman quarterback Connor Brewer and sophomore wide receiver Cayleb Jones -- as well as a handful of injuries that will limit returning stars like senior wide receiver Mike Davis, junior wide receiver Jaxon Shipley, and junior cornerback Quandre Diggs.

Here's the list:

Jalen Overstreet, redshirt freshman quarterback/running back/wide receiver -- No player on the roster has a more diverse set of responsibilities than Overstreet, who will continue to take some reps at quarterback following Brewer's transfer since most coaches want four players at that position in case of injuries.

But the single position on the roster most needing more depth is the running back position. With sophomore Daje Johnson set to spend more time in the slot in order to get him on the field and diversify how he gets the football, Texas only has three scholarship tailbacks on the roster. As a result, Overstreet will start fall practice exclusively at tailback, according to Brown, before then spending some time working in the slot at wide receiver and keeping up his quarterback skills.

The question is how well Overstreet can adjust to the position. Now at 217 pounds, he's certainly big enough physically to remain durable through the season, but the bigger question is about his actual skills as a running back. Can he get behind his pads to reduce his tackling surface at 6'2? Does he have the vision to hit the proper holes and the feet to get him to the right place to make a play?

All questions that won't be answered until the games start, but as he was during the spring open practices, how Overstreet looks at his new position will come under some scrutiny during the open practices this week.

Duke Thomas, sophomore cornerback/wide receiver -- Despite talk all through the spring and summer that the versatile Thomas would get time at wide receiver and cornerback after filling in at wide receiver during the spring because of injuries and flashing some in the spring game, Brown said Sunday that Thomas will start out in the secondary this fall because of the injury to Diggs and a similar injury to junior safety Josh Turner.

Expected to battle with junior Sheroid Evans for a starting spot at the field corner position vacated by the move of Diggs into the nickel role, Thomas is known as an instinctive player who quickly transitioned to defense after playing wide receiver and quarterback in high school.

The presence of sophomore Kendall Sanders, the move of Johnson and Overstreet to positions that include work in the slot, and incoming freshman Jacorey Warrick all decreased the need for Thomas on the offensive side of the ball, while the lack of proven depth at cornerback makes Thomas more valuable in that role at this time.

Montrel Meander, freshman wide receiver -- There was some talk during Meander's recruitment that he prefers the safety position, but the need for the 'Horns at the time of his recruitment was a speedy vertical threat with the size to win jump balls against smaller defensive backs.

Meander fit that role perfectly, though there was still some question about where he would start and while Brown didn't mention Meander specifically on Sunday, he did talk about him at the THSCA meetings last week.

Faster than Cayleb Jones, but more raw, the odds of Meander playing this fall are still not particularly high, but at least his short-term future with the team is more secure.

Chevoski Collins, freshman wide receiver -- Expected to play defensive back out of high school, Collins did it all for Livingston in high school, playing quarterback, wide receiver, and in the secondary in addition to handling return duties. He'll now have a chance to get some reps at wide receiver with all the aforementioned injuries and the loss of Cayleb Jones, so he has a serious opportunity to make an impact on the depth chart during his first several weeks on campus, rather than getting buried at the safety position.

Erik Huhn, freshman big nickel -- Still recovering from an ACL injury suffered on the first defensive drive of his senior season, there has always been speculation that the Cibolo Steele product could end up playing linebacker. And though Brown shot down a legitimate question about that way back on Signing Day, he did say on Sunday that Huhn will be a playing a big nickel roll at Texas, which probably suits his skill set better than playing a pure safety position.

A summer camp performance helped answer questions about his ability in man coverage and his size (207 pounds) will quickly play better closer to the line of scrimmage, where he can use the physicality that made him a strong tackler capable of punishing opposing wide receivers over the middle.

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