The Longhorns were loaded up with NFL-caliber returnees at the position, bringing back Aaron Williams, Curtis Brown and Chykie Brown. They were the known quantities. Which is why many of the eyes traced the most isolated spot on the field when the second team trotted out.
They were only true freshmen, but it was easy to see why both players had been recruited. On one side, the more highly regarded of the duo showcased length and athleticism. The other seemed to be a little bit more raw, but certainly had the physical tools to succeed. The first corner? That was recent transfer A.J. White. The second was Carrington Byndom.
Sometime between then and Friday, about one year and nine months or so later, the latter player developed into one of the league's bright and shining stars, somebody capable of handling Justin Blackmon man-to-man, and projecting as the next of Texas's high draft picks at the cornerback position. Meanwhile, White never broke into the starting lineup, and was essentially recruited over. Quandre Diggs was the first to jump White's spot in the pecking order, but wasn't the last. When Josh Turner and Orlando Thomas did the same, that's when White's days as a Longhorn were numbered.
Sometimes, when following a team like Texas, it's easy to forget that even the guys that don't pan out come in with massive expectations, and at times, massive talent. As somebody who has covered other teams in the Big 12, I can say with all honesty that there were players on the second and third teams of the 5-7 2010 squad that would have started for several other teams in the league.
In White, and to a lesser extent, Eryon Barnett, Texas lost two such players, guys who were talented enough to break into the Longhorn two-deep at some point in their young careers. But the margin for error at such a high-profile position is so razor thin. At DBU, it might as well be invisible.
And so Texas often deals with the attrition that comes from amassing such great talent. Every single one of the Longhorns who come in were stars in high school, the best of the best. And every single one suspects that they're good enough to play, and start for the burnt orange. Few are.
All of this is a long way to say that the Longhorns have lost some talented bodies at cornerback. And that needs to be re-addressed in recruiting. Finding willing players shouldn't be an issue: even in its down cycle, Texas had no problems luring top cornerbacks. Antwuan Davis is considered a heavy Texas lean, and maybe the departure of White will cause Texas to take an extra-hard look at out-of-stater Cole Luke, or another option.
But practice this fall could conjure similar images to 2010: talented cornerbacks Byndom, Diggs and the emerging Turner, with true freshmen Thomas and Bryson Echols waiting in the wings.