It appears the eagle has landed. Well, the Eagles — Brennan Eagles.
Once regarded as a five-star prospect before ultimately signing with the Texas Longhorns during the 2018 cycle as a four-star U.S. Army All-American, Eagles essentially spent his first season on the Forty Acres waiting his turn. Last season, the Longhorns featured a talented trio of upperclassmen at receiver, but once star slot Lil’Jordan Humphrey left the program a year early to pursue an NFL opportunity, the door was opened for Eagles to emerge.
And he has.
So much so, in fact, that Texas head coach Tom Herman said during fall camp, “in order to get what is now our best three guys out there in the starting lineup, Brennan was in that group so we moved Duvernay to the slot;” a move which came after Eagles solidified himself as Texas’ top option outside at Z.
On Saturday, as Texas’ season and Eagles’ sophomore campaign got underway against Louisiana Tech, he seemingly validated the offseason praise that’s been pointed in his direction. Early in the second quarter, Eagles turned his second career catch, a 28-yard yard reception across the middle that proved to be Texas’ longest play from scrimmage, into his first career touchdown.
“Maybe about as selfless of a player that we have on this team,” Herman said. “I don’t know if you saw him after his first touchdown, but he sprinted to go hug a big guy, and that was freakin’ awesome. He is as bought in as you can be to the way that we do things.”
During Texas’ first drive of the second half, Eagles did much of the same, turning his fourth career reception, a 25-yard strike down the sideline, into his second career score before once again going and hugging a big guy.
Eagles finished with just three receptions, but they were good enough to tie Collin Johnson for a team-high 59 yards, and his two touchdown catches marked the most by any Longhorn since Devin Duvernay and Humphrey each hauled in a pair of touchdown passes against Texas Tech last season while Johnson was sidelined.
“No, honestly not,” Eagles told the media after the game of whether he made a statement with his two-touchdown showing.
The fact that Eagles wasn’t impressed by his season-opening effort is encouraging given that, despite enjoying the best game of his young career in burnt orange, he didn’t seem the least bit satisfied. Or surprised. The latter extends to Eagles’ head coach, as well, as Herman noted the elite physical talent that Eagles is when asked to describe where he’s made the biggest strides throughout the offseason.
“The speed of the game and the knowledge of his assignment,” Herman said after Texas’ 45-14 win over Louisiana Tech. “But this is a 228-230-pound young man that can run 21 miles an hour and he’s 6’3.”
Furthermore, Herman found it especially notable that after emerging as Texas’ starting Z during fall camp, he was forced to the sidelines and ultimately, the operating table due to a elbow injury, which is why he began the game as a backup to senior John Burt.
“Let’s not everybody be lost on the fact, too, that he was on the operating table two weeks ago; I think 15 days ago,” Herman said. “He had surgery on his elbow and he comes out today and has two touchdown catches and was very physical on the perimeter, too.”
Now, after never really enjoying much of an opportunity to do so as a true freshman, Eagles got his feet wet and made his presence felt at wide receiver. That’s of course, excellent early news for Texas, which will need much of the same much sooner than later, as the Longhorns are set to welcome No. 6 LSU and a loaded Tigers secondary to Austin next Saturday.