AUSTIN, Texas -- Abilene Cooper wide receiver Lorenzo Joe is in a unique position as a Texas Longhorns commit -- not only did he originally have to lie to reporters and friends about his silent commitment at a Longhorns camp in June, but he'll have to wait longer than any Texas pledge in the history of the program before he arrives on campus next summer to start his career in Austin.
Out at the Round Rock SQT on Saturday, Joe told Burnt Orange Nation that he's happy with the work on his team's timing as they fell just short of qualifying for the FOX Sports Southwest 7-on-7 State Championship in July with a semifinals loss to Lake Travis, the eventual champion.
The 6'3, 195-pounder said that he was impressed with the development of Cooper's young players, especially 2016 wide receiver Aaron "Peanut" Anderson, a slight slot prospect with good height for the position who was one of Joe's favorite targets on the day and is a player to watch moving forward.
Of course, simply working at quarterback, the position Joe continues to play after taking over trigger duties for his school last year, isn't enough to get prepared to play early at Texas. So, as always, Joe is working hard to keep his wide receiver skills at a high level.
"I just get back out there and run routes, keep my hands ready. This past week, our quarterback who is at Tech now, Clayton Nicholas, came back down and I ran some routes for him and did some receiver stuff, so that was good for me to get that in, but you know, every chance I can, I just get some receiver work in," Joe said on a day that started with steady rain for the entirety of pool play and ended with pleasantly dry conditions.
Of course, working on the side to stay sharp at receiver isn't the same thing as doing it in more game-like situations, which was why Joe's efforts at the Dallas NFTC back in April were so impressive. Named the positional MVP, Joe secured the award over high-level prospects like Louisiana's Malachi Dupre and Alief Taylor's Keenen Brown, among many others, showing off those hands that he keeps sharp, as well as his fluidity.
The organizers for The Opening have kept in tough with Joe, so it's possible that he snags a late invite to the prestigious camp, but even if he doesn't, the experience was worthwhile for him.
"It's always fun to go out there and compete with those guys -- they have a bunch of great defensive backs in our class this year, so it was fun to go out there and going up against them," Joe said of the experience. "Most of those guys don't even know that I play quarterback for our school. I just went out there and played receiver and it was good for me to work that work in and I had a lot of fun."
And indeed, Joe is playing quarterback at an even higher level now, as he looks more polished than he did last season. Now to a point where he could conceivably play the position in college somewhere were he not committed to Texas, his improvement there is a testament to his hard work and natural athletic ability.
As perhaps the most athletic big wide receiver Texas has recruited in years -- he has legit 4.52 speed in the 40 and will be able to play in college at around 210 pounds or so, Joe can take the corner against defenders in the run game and even has some shake in the open field, much like John Harris in college, though Joe is significantly faster.
He had a chance to make it down to Austin for the spring game and came away impressed and excited about what he saw.
"I enjoyed the spring game a lot," the future collegiate wide receiver said. "It's very exciting that I'm going to be a part of that offense. Last year, they ran the ball a lot, and while they're still going to be balanced, it's up-tempo now and it's kind of like our offense. In the fall, we're up-tempo and really fast, so going in, I'm going to be used to it and I'm going to have a lot of fun with it."
If the word of choice for Joe after he was able to announce his commitment publicly last fall was "crazy," the word of choice now is clearly "fun." As a competitor, he has a lot of it and he's looking forward to a lot of it in. It's a testament to his overall positivity and love for the game, proving yet again that the only factors that can hold him back in burnt orange are the ones out of his control.
He's also ready to spend a year working with now-entrenched starter David Ash, who could conceivably be one of the best quarterbacks in the country in 2014 when Joe arrives on campus.
"He's a great quarterback and he's developed over the last two seasons and should be really good in the new offense, so I'm going to go watch him play, enjoy it, and look forward to playing with him for a season."
As for Joe's 2014 classmate, Jerrod Heard, the future wide receiver hasn't had a chance to catch passes from the Denton Guyer star yet, but hopes to do so at the June 2nd camp next weekend that Joe will attend. And it's not that the stay don't know each other well -- they speak a consistent basis and hang out, but they just haven't been able to combine their efforts to this point.
There seems to be little doubt that when they do, it will be a fun experience for Joe, as football-related activities seem to be for him. And when the work is so much fun, it's no surprise that he's gotten better as a quarterback and it's not hard to predict similar improvement at wide receiver while at Texas.