And while that position will certainly see some drop-off, safety Kenny Vaccaro said this week that Okafor called Wilson the best backup defensive end in the country. Of course, Wilson's move up means more snaps for Cedric Reed as the primary backup end, and meaningful snaps for Shiro Davis, a true freshman who was a pass-rushing terror at Woodlawn (La.).
"We have no choice, yeah," said Manny Diaz, Texas defensive coordinator, about playing Davis. "Really, Oscar Giles has done a great job with him of pushing him along. All of a sudden in pass rush drill in August, he was lost, then in early September would every now and then flash, and now all of a sudden is starting to kind of look like a guy. His growth curve will still be the same as always but we're excited about what he can potentially add for us."
The Longhorns have typically played four defensive ends against the no-huddle spread passing attacks they've faced. In fact, on several drives against West Virginia, the Longhorns actually started off with the backups on early downs before bringing in Okafor and Jeffcoat on third and fourth downs. Diaz said that Davis has gotten stronger since joining the Texas program, and said that he was strong enough to hold up.
Texas offensive guard Trey Hopkins said he's impressed with what Davis brings to the table.
"I've noticed he's a hard worker," Hopkins said. "He's a more laid-back guy personally, but when he steps on the field, he's a guy that can flip the switch effectively and he's going to be a great guy. I know Jackson's going to lead him in the right direction with him being out. He's going to get him ready.
"He's a very quick guy," Hopkins said. "He has a very, very explosive ball get-off. And he's a strong guy if he has to convert it to a bull rush. But definitely just his quickness around the edge is something that can give tackles trouble, I've noticed."
Texas coach Mack Brown said the Longhorns wouldn't know if Davis was ready until he got out onto the field.
"But we've practiced him like he's going to play every week," Brown said. "So he's been with our defense, he's been in there against the first and second team offense every day. And he's got tremendous pass-rushing skills. So we think he can be really good. And this bunch is going to throw it a bunch Saturday night, so I'm sure he'll be in there playing."