Post-Spring Outlook: Wide Receiver

If college sports have taught us anything, it's that a lack of depth can create future depth.

Doesn't make sense, you say? Take a look at the wide receiver position, where three different Longhorns took turns being the No. 1 guy last season. At the start of the year, it was Mike Davis testing defenses deep and getting behind the coverages. Mid-year, Jaxon Shipley was starting to emerge as the go-to guy and potentially one of the Big 12's top wideouts. And when Shipley went down against Kansas, and Davis faded, it was Marquise Goodwin who stood out as the top receiving threat.

At the time, it had to be frustrating in that inexperience (at the start), poor quarterback play (middle) and injuries (at the end) stopped Texas from truly firing on all cylinders. But the season ended with each Longhorn having experience as the No. 1.

And that's where the Longhorns entered the spring, with three wide receivers coming off a season where they all, at one point, had to take the primary receiving burden. In fact, if you look through the 13 game schedule, Davis led the Longhorn wide receivers in yards five times. Shipley led four times. And Goodwin led four times.

It's that kind of balance that could make the Longhorns more dangerous at the position than many think. But the key will be Davis. A fantastic talent, Davis has all the skills to develop into Texas's No. 1, and three 100-plus yard games in his career. And this spring, Davis looked the part. He put out more effort on a repetition-by-repetition basis, and everybody on roster had trouble defending him. He appeared to be the best player on the Texas offense, including the two stellar running backs. Granted, it's just the spring, but he looked like an All-Big 12 candidate.

He's not the only one. If you were making up a list, right now, of the top 10 or so receivers in the league, Shipley's name would be on it. His true freshman season saw him come up second on the Texas all-time freshman list for catches (44, behind Mike Davis) and yards (607), while his three touchdown catches were third. Shipley's main talent appears to be his versatility. At 6-1, he's big enough to be an outside receiver, he finds holes in the defense over the middle like a slot guy and he can get the ball on reverses or even throw the ball.

And Goodwin's game is much more defined. He's one of the fastest players in college football, and somebody who can consistently test the defense deep. The best part was that Goodwin was able to get some practice time this spring — though he was held out of the spring game — and didn't appear rusty. That's always been kind of the knock on Goodwin, that he has great talent, but that track has kept him from getting to be the kind of player he could be. In fact, Mack Brown once said that Goodwin has the ability to catch 100 passes in the season. And while that likely won't happen in this offense, his being ready to go on opening day is a huge plus.

But those were the three knowns of the receiving corps. The Longhorns still had to find cover, in case those three were injured. And it appears that John Harris will be a big boon. Harris is a bigger target than the three starters and is an excellent blocker. DeSean Hales had a typically excellent spring, and actually showcased more physicality than expected. And converted safety Bryant Jackson, a long and athletic option, made serious strides before getting injured just after spring concluded. He should be ready to go for the fall, but it will be interesting to see how his momentum carries over.

And one of the more intriguing options includes Miles Onyegbule, currently also training with the H-backs. Onyegbule earned playing time last year because of injuries, but he essentially outgrew his outside spot when his weight shot up to 230 pounds. And he might be a full-time tight end by the time he finishes — his brother Max was a 265-pound defensive end at Kansas. But for now, Onyegbule is a versatile flex option who can block better than a wide receiver, while at the same times motioning into tough-to-cover situations.

The Longhorns are counting on at least one of the freshman trio of Cayleb Jones, Marcus Johnson and Kendall Sanders to contribute as well, but that will be decided in the summer and early fall.

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