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Assessing the Texas Longhorns true freshmen

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With the Horns, halfway through the season, here's a look at which true freshmen have played, which could still burn their redshirts, and which will likely not play at all.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

With the Texas Longhorns now halfway through the season and seemingly done hemorrhaging players at an incredible rate (hopefully), it's a good time to look at which members of the 2014 recruiting class have seen the field and assess the status of some of the notable players who have not.

Redshirts burned

Game 1 -- North Texas

  • D'Onta Foreman, running back
  • Lorenzo Joe, wide receiver
  • Armanti Foreman, wide receiver
  • Andrew Beck, tight end
  • Jason Hall, safety

For the most part, these were the most advanced freshmen, the guys who came in and made an impact in fall camp to the extent that the staff knew that they were going to have a chance to contribute this session. The only real exception was D'Onta Foreman, who passed Donald Catalon for playing time because Catalon suffered an injured hamstring early in fall camp. Beck benefitted from enrolling early and played on special teams.

Game 2 -- BYU

  • None

D'Onta Foreman didn't play in this game, but the other four freshman all saw action once again. The 22-yard catch by Lorenzo Joe late was the longest play of the game for the Horns and the first catch by any of the freshmen wide receivers in 2014.

Game 3 -- UCLA

  • None

Another player dropped out of the rotation in this game, as Armanti Foreman didn't play, even though head coach Charlie Strong mentioned him by name in the post-game press conference as someone who needed to get the football.

Game 4 -- Kansas

  • Roderick Bernard, wide receiver
  • Poona Ford, defensive tackle

Unsurprisingly, the bye week afforded an opportunity for several new players to enter the rotation.

Bernard stepped in as a gunner because the coaches thought that his speed could help there are the mistake on punt coverage that ultimately cost the game against the Bruins in Arlington.

Ford played for the first time in part because sophomore defensive tackle Alex Norman suffered a back injury at some point that kept him from playing in the second two games. Combined with the loss of senior defensive tackle, the hits to depth at the position forced the undersized defender into action.

There was also a bit of history that happened in this game, as Hall became the first true freshman to start at safety for Texas since Blake Gideon in 2008.

In the run game, Armanti Foreman made his first appearance on a reverse. It was his first touch since having a nice catch and run negated by penalty against North Texas in the opener.

Game 5 -- Baylor

  • None

D'Onta Foreman appeared for the first time in this game, as did all of the other freshmen to play to that point in the season. The bigger Foreman made his way onto the kickoff return unit and returned a short kick five yards.

Game 6 -- Oklahoma

  • None

The effort of Foreman on kickoff return must not have been up to the standards of the coaching staff (or something), because he didn't play against the Sooners. Neither did Ford, though that was likely a result of Oklahoma failing to pick up first downs and fatigue the Texas defense.

For the freshmen, the significant news was Bernard moving onto the kickoff return team, though that move didn't solve the real problems on that unit.

Notes on freshmen who have played

D'Onta Foreman -- Even in a late-game situation against a poor team, his 34-yard run against North Texas was a positive sign for his future at running back, though it would be ideal if he could earn back his spot on special teams to make better use of his season and prove that he's capable of doing the tough work necessary to get on the field.

Armanti Foreman -- After talk about getting the smaller Foreman more involved and getting him the ball on perimeter runs in consecutive games against Kansas and Baylor, he didn't have any opportunities on the ground against Oklahoma. Since other parts of the offense were operating at the highest level all season, that is perhaps understandable, but he remains a player who needs to be featured in the offense. Nearly every time he's touched the ball, he's made something happen.

Roderick Bernard -- Can Bernard make a difference in the kickoff return game? The guess is any big return is going to come more from better blocking than having a more talented player back there. Right now, the real hope is that Bernard can avoid any big mistakes as a gunner.

Lorenzo Joe -- Other than the catch against BYU, Joe hasn't had much of an impact other than drawing a pass interference penalty against Baylor. A lot of that probably falls on the offense, as the inability to pick up first downs for long stretches has reduced the number of plays overall and limited wear and tear on the starters. If the Horns offense can continue improving and opening up, Joe should had more opportunities.

Dorian Leonard -- The Longview product had his first catch against Oklahoma, but isn't as likely to play a big role in the offense moving forward this season as Joe and Foreman, who were the first to see the field.

Poona Ford -- Through two games, Ford has two tackles, including one for loss, and has generally looked capable despite his lack of height. If or when Alex Norman comes back from injury, the two will be battling for playing time.

Jason Hall -- One of the lowest-rated commits in the class has become the biggest early impact contributor in the group with highlight-reel hits, including his stuff of 243-pound Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine. He did drop a potential interception and may eventually have some trouble in coverage, but he has surpassed any and all expectations already and looks like the next enforcer on defense for the Horns.

Notable freshmen who haven't played

Jerrod Heard, quarterback -- The coaching staff indicated several weeks ago that walk on junior college transfer Logan Vinklarek would come in if sophomore starter Tyrone Swoopes were to need to leave the game for a play or two, indicating that there is a high level of interest in keeping the redshirt on Heard. If he was going to play this season, it would have been in the North Texas game and the Kansas game.

Another point worth making -- there's no real clamoring behind the scenes or buzz that Heard is flashing in practice and could represent the better option. Some of that is Swoopes progressing nicely since the spring and some of it is probably Heard just not being ready to play.

Donald Catalon, running back -- The fastest running back on the team is presumably healthy after he suffered the hamstring injury in fall camp. With three running backs committed in the 2015 class and Texas still pursuing big back Chris Warren, how much sense does it make to keep Catalon off the field when he could provide a bigger boost than Johnathan Gray in the running game and the passing game?

Derick Roberson, defensive end -- Strong said that Roberson was putting on weight quickly in the Texas weight program after coming in lighter than his listed weight in high school, but the move of redshirt freshman Naashon Hughes to defensive end has reduced the need to play Roberson, so he will likely keep his redshirt.