Nose tackle Keondre Coburn likes to call Texas Longhorns redshirt freshman receiver Troy Omeire, “Little Julio,” as in little Julio Jones.
The “little” aspect of that isn’t to be taken too literally, because, well, there’s nothing little about the 6’3, 220-pound Omeire, who’s already listed as the same size as Jones and is already noticeably larger than another elite in Arizona Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
If there’s an eye test, Omeire passes it. But as for actually turning that eye test into on-field productivity and validating Coburn’s nickname for him, Omeire has a couple more unique tests to pass.
The first, of course, is getting on the field — an opportunity that was delayed by a year after his breakout first preseason camp on the Forty Acres abruptly ended with a torn ACL injury.
“He was making plays that you wouldn’t expect a receiver to make,” Coburn said of Omeire during Big 12 Media Days.
So, rather than potentially emerging as an instant-impact contributor for Texas in 2020, Omeire spent his first season sidelined, relegated to rehabilitation. That’s behind him now, as is a spring during which he was limited.
So, in a sense, it’s all gas, no brakes for Omeire from here on out. The question is how far — and how consistently — he’s willing to push the pedal.
“We see the physical characteristics, right. He’s tall, he’s physical,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said of Omeire. “I think getting back into playing football is really important for him, and kind of understand the mental toughness that’s needed.”
“We definitely see the flashes in him,” Sarkisian added. “Now we’re just fighting for that consistency, and I know he is too — he’s fighting for that consistency. That’s going to be the key component for him.”
In Omeire’s case, though, being consistent isn’t quite so simple. Beyond acclimating to a new staff, a new system and a new, wide-open competition for wide receiver reps, which won’t come as easily in Sark’s system, Omeire is still working to overcome the mental hurdle his injury presented.
“When guys are coming off of a significant injury like he is, coming off of an ACL, the body can recover and you get healthy,” Sarkisian said. “But the mind sometimes can talk you into, ‘Am I or am I not?’”
“I think he knows that his knee is healthy, but he’s got to start to remove the doubt,” Sarkisian added, noting that the mental obstacles are a normal part of the recovery process.
The sooner Omeire can remove that doubt, and any accompanying issues like inconsistency or hesitancy, the sooner he could become a lethal offensive threat for the Longhorns.
Another circus catch from the newcomer pic.twitter.com/AGDv8ia1BN— Will Baizer is leaving the Big 12 (@WillBaizer) August 16, 2020
He was already already on that track last fall as a true freshman, looking the part of a young Collin Johnson, or as Coburn put it, a “Little Julio” — “he’s got something to prove” heading into his second season in Austin.
For now, it seems the one he has the most to prove to is himself. The rest will take care of itself.
“He’s steadily improved and now we just got to continue on the path that he’s on,” Sarkisian said.