With the Spring Jamboree coming up on Sunday, LonghornDigest.com is looking at the emerging players through spring practice. To fit the bill, players can't have been major regulars in the past year, so players like David Ash and Joe Bergeron, while they've had outstanding springs, are ineligible.
When you put a choke hold on the left tackle job from the first moment you arrive on campus, you're doing something right. Hawkins has done just that, allowing rising sophomore Josh Cochran to move to right tackle and bumping Trey Hopkins to his more natural spot inside, and improving the whole offensive line in the process. Hawkins will still have work to do, but he's held his own this spring despite going against a bevy of tough defensive ends, potentially the best group of pass-rushers he'll see all year.
Mack Brown came out at his pre-spring press conference and voiced the hope that McFarland, who had boosted his weight to 260 pounds, could become the kind of every-down tight end that would allow the Longhorns to move away from playing offensive tackles like Luke Poehlmann at the position. So far, so good. The reports on McFarland's play have been glowing, with him improving as a blocker and still displaying the ability to be a threat on passing downs.
Flowers has been one of the most talented offensive linemen in Stacy Searels's stock since arriving on campus, and now that he's healthy, he's making a play for a spot in the starting lineup. Texas has been trying Mason Walters at center, and when Walters moves in from guard, Flowers takes his spot. Even if Dominic Espinosa is able to fight off all challengers, expect Flowers to be a rotational player who will come through every few series.
4) John Harris
With all of the talk about Harris, it's easy to forget that he's a guy who hasn't actually played that much as a Longhorn, due to a redshirt year, and then an injury. But when he's in, the Longhorns get better at receiver. He's a big, physical target that the Longhorns won't really have until Cayleb Jones arrives, and he's an excellent blocker. The quarterbacks have been quick to single out how much him coming back has meant to the team, and while it would be difficult to beat out starters Mike Davis, Marquise Goodwin and Jaxon Shipley, Harris has a great chance to be that next player in the rotation.
5) Alex De La Torre
De La Torre has put in work at a position (fullback) with limited numbers, and the only other player in the spring playing there is a senior. So De La Torre had a chance to earn immediate repetitions. Him playing both middle linebacker — showing great instincts — and moving to fullback for a trial also shows some of what attracted Texas to him in the first place: he's a team-first guy. It's unclear where De La Torre will end up. But don't be surprised if wherever he goes, he becomes indispensable.