The Longhorns received some bad news Tuesday, when Quincy Russell's failure to qualify was finalized by the NCAA Clearinghouse.
The news came as a blow, because Russell, and classmate Desmond Jackson, were expected to compete immediately for spots on the two-deep. The Longhorns have plenty of bodies at defensive tackle, but other than star Kheeston Randall, Texas doesn't really have any players who appear — at least at this point — to be standouts. When Russell was healthy, and his weight was down, he was a penetrating tackle keen to make plays in the backfield. And he might have been more physically ready than the squat Jackson, who is also a penetrating type.
The Longhorns will probably be fine in the long term, thanks especially to Jackson and this year's three-tackle class that includes Malcom Brown, Paul Boyette and Alex Norman. And the early word, at least, is that Texas would still like Russell to join up after his first two years in junior college. San Antonio Sam Houston coach Gary Green said Tuesday that Russell was in the process of looking at different junior colleges, and added that Texas was involved in that searching-out phase.
In the more immediate future, don't be surprised if Texas adds another defensive tackle in the 2012 class, with either Donald Hopkins of Lago Vista or Glen Antoine of Round Rock serving as potential candidates.
2013 Tight Ends
If the 2012 class is a weak one for in-state tight ends, then 2013 looks ready to make up for any time lost on the recruiting trail. The real question will be which players will tickle the Longhorns' fancy.
It's no secret that offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin's Boise State offenses enjoyed employing multiple tight ends, often moving those players around to create leverage on the defense. In that case, the most appealing prospect would seem to be Prestonwood Christian tight end Christian Morgan. Morgan appears to be the state's most balanced tight end prospect — at 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, he's big enough to be an in-line blocker and athletic enough to stretch the field some as a receiver. But the state could also boast a pair of big-time receiving tight ends in Ricky Seals-Jones and Derrick Griffin. Seals-Jones, out of Sealy, is listed at 6-5 215, and may not have the explosion to play at wide receiver, though he's a basketball prospect and plenty athletic. Griffin, of Rosenberg Terry, is an even better basketball prospect at 6-7 220, and he could play both sports in college.
Both are currently listed as wide receivers, but with those frames and athleticism, don't be surprised if either turns into a hybrid tight end. And with Texas losing at least one tight end in Ahmard Howard, and potentially two depending on Blaine Irby's situation, the Longhorns will likely be out shopping for a pair.
It's that time of year when no sports are going on and the most exciting news comes out of 7-on-7s, where the players practice running passing plays, and defending passing plays, without pads on. So it's important to keep things in perspective.
Having said that, the early reviews on Jaxon Shipley have been absolutely glowing. It's not a huge surprise, as he's the type of player who's going to show well in a 7-on-7 setting. He's athletic, runs great routes and is a competitive player for jump balls. Where Shipley might struggle, and where he did a bit at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl practices, is when a powerful defensive back is able to get his hands on him. Of course, since that game, Shipley has done an excellent job of adding lean muscle mass, so maybe that's not as much of an issue.
Darius White has also been earning praise. He's the most talented receiver on roster, and the type of player where, if he can put it all together, he has a chance to be among the league's better players and a matchup nightmare on the outside.
Also keep an eye on Adrian Phillips, both now and in the future. This year, he'll probably start at cornerback. But if Kenny Vaccaro has the year many are visualizing, don't be surprised to see Phillips as his replacement next season. And if Vaccaro stays put, a safety pairing of Phillips and Vaccaro would certainly be among the league's best.
Texas announced this past week that Goodwin would take the 2011 season off, redshirting to focus on track and field. Goodwin is one of the country's top track and field athletes, and will compete in the World Championships while pushing for a shot at the 2012 Olympics in the long jump.
Of course, the Longhorns will miss Goodwin's speed. He's one of the fastest players in college football and a returning starter in a receiving unit with a lot of young players. But in the long term, it will probably help.
Goodwin is a player of considerable football talent, someone that Texas coach Mack Brown once pointed to as a receiver who could catch 100 passes in a season. But with him participating in track every spring and early summer, it seemed to leave him rusty heading into the football season. Now, Goodwin will appear to have at least have one season where he can focus exclusively on football. And in the short term, the younger players will have a chance to earn time and experience for a loaded receiving group in the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
One of the most consistent things we've heard out on the road is that new offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin is going to focus on getting the ball into the hands of Texas's offensive weapons.
One coach said that he got the impression that Harsin felt he had some pieces on offense to utilize, and the coach said he was confident Harsin would do just that.