While Alex Norman had some good news about his progression to potentially play in Thursday's UnderArmour All-American Game, Johnathan Gray suffered a bit of a setback. Norman still hasn't practiced full-bore, but Tuesday he went through a series of workouts designed to test out the ankle he fractured just before the state playoffs. The prognosis was largely positive: while there were a few things that he wasn't able to do quite as well, he wasn't severely limited. Gray, meanwhile, sat out all of Tuesday's practice with swelling and stiffness in his knee. Both players have said they want to take part in the game Thursday, but both also conceded that the most important thing was making sure they were healthy when they arrived in Austin.
Cayleb Jones breaks out
On days one and two of practice, you could see flashes that Jones was ready to make a big move. Like a NASCAR driver that just misses out five times on getting the edge, you figured he'd get it eventually. Wednesday, everything came together, with Jones looking like the West team's best wide receiver. He caught two passes on Bryson Echols — his main foil throughout the week — and generally showed himself to be a great route runner and an explosive deep threat.
All season long, Connor Brewer has gotten rave reviews for his accuracy and his anticipation. And that is all the more on display whenever the Black team gets into the red zone. Whereas most quarterbacks seem to struggle with the smaller passing windows and increased urgency, Brewer has been about as good as you could imagine, throwing darts, finding open receivers and, maybe most importantly, not making mistakes. Brewer has thrown a few interceptions here and there — as all of the Black quarterbacks have — but he hasn't thrown any in the most important area of the field, and he seems to come away with six points on nearly every possession.
Echols is human, Malcom Brown still superhuman
After a boffo performance in Monday's practice where Echols didn't allow a single catch (not even in one-on-one drills), Echols was beaten three or four times on Tuesday. He still won a huge majority of his repetitions, and he still looks like arguably the best cover cornerback on the field. But he went from unbeatable to very, very, very difficult to beat on Tuesday. At the same time, Malcom Brown looks like he might be the best defensive line prospect in attendance. He has dominated his one-on-one reps and has generally taken up residence in the opposing offensive backfield. With his athleticism, the violence with which he uses his hands and the consistency of his motor, he's a nightmare matchup.
While the offensive Longhorn commitments have been excellent, the defensive commitments have stolen the show. Out of the four defensive commitments in attendance, three — Echols, Brown and Peter Jinkens at linebacker — are slated to start in Thursday's game. The other player is Alex Norman, who hasn't practiced because of injury. Pretty nice ratio, right? Well it gets even better if you figure that Texas might land Mario Edwards, who has been tearing through the White practices and has been one of the top five or so overall players this week. There's plenty to get excited about when looking at the Longhorn offensive players in attendance. But the defensive prospects appear to be the elite-of-the-elite, and should only help to boost Manny Diaz's emerging unit.