With Jackson Jeffcoat missing the spring, Texas coach Mack Brown said it represented an opportunity for Cedric Reed to step in. And Chris Whaley would help to make up the lack of depth by rotating at both defensive end and defensive tackle.
Brown also said that Brandon Moore looked good and would factor in at a tackle position looking to replace Kheeston Randall and Calvin Howell. And he said that Desmond Jackson was a nightmare for people to block because he was so short and so powerful. Brown said Jackson was the strongest defensive lineman on the team.
Brown said that the Longhorns were in for a challenge in trying to replace multi-year starters Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho, as well as the leadership both players provided. But he said Jordan Hicks, who is expected to start at SAM, had an excellent conditioning session.
Who will fill the other spots is still up in the air, though Brown said Steve Edmond had dropped probably 10 pounds from his high point a year ago, and that Demarco Cobbs would continue to play as a nickel safety/linebacker hybrid.
Brown also talked about losing Blake Gideon and Christian Scott in the secondary, while Adrian Phillips will miss the whole spring with an injury, and Sheroid Evans will miss the opening few practices with track. Brown said that opened up chances for Mykkele Thompson.
It's a great opportunity for Mykkele," Brown said. "He's done everything right since he's been here. He's a good student. He's at everything first. He's a joy to coach, very good in the offseason program. Duane has a philosophy and we're all in on this, he will play the best four players. So he will look at Sheroid at corner. He will look at Josh Turner at safety. He will go across the board and try and figure out who the four best ones are."
William Russ was "booming" punts at the end of the year, Brown said, and the hope is that he'll continue that trend. David Ash will also spend time punting. Ben Pruitt, a walk-on, will kick field goals and work on kickoffs, with Nick Jordan joining him in those duties when he arrives in the summer.
Brown said the search was on for kickoff returners, and said that Fozzy Whittaker's play showed last year just how effective Texas could be with the right guy returning kicks. The new kickoff rules — kicking off from the 35 and touchbacks bring the ball to the 25 — will create more kickoff philosophy questions, he said.