True freshmen on the depth chart. If you're a Texas fan, it's something you've become accustomed to each of the past several years. Shoot, last year, there were three true freshmen listed on the depth chart last year at wide receiver alone — Kendall Sanders, Marcus Johnson and the now-departed Cayleb Jones.
But the Longhorns are all grown up now, and one of the perks of their increased depth is this: true freshmen are no longer littered throughout the two-deep. In fact, when the Longhorns released their depth chart for Saturday's game, only three true freshmen were listed, and the plan is to play just those three (depending on external factors like injuries, of course).
Here's more on the three true freshmen on the New Mexico State depth chart.
The only freshman who is in the Definitely Will Play column for this weekend, Warrick finds himself in that spot both because of strong play in fall camp and a bevy of injuries to other wide receivers. Out of the Longhorns' projected top six (basically their two-deep), only Mike Davis and Daje Johnson are fully healthy and ready to go on Saturday. Jaxon Shipley and Marcus Johnson are both healthy enough to be listed on the two-deep, but Kendall Sanders, who is both suspended and dealing with a nagging ankle injury, and Bryant Jackson, who is out with a broken foot, are out. That means that the Longhorns had to add two more receivers to the pile, and that meant a spot on the two-deep for John Harris (listed as a starter at 'Z') and the cat-quick Warrick, who is backing up Daje Johnson. With the Longhorns' tempo, they'll need at least six to rotate through, and that means plenty of playing time for Warrick, who has impressed with his ability to create big plays out of the slot.
It seems like half of this article so far has been about injuries, and here's another one: whether Swoopes plays on Saturday will depend largely on how he's recovering from a hamstring injury. Swoopes is listed as the No. 3 quarterback behind starter David Ash and backup Case McCoy, though he has a package specific to his talents that the staff would like to give him some run with if he's ready to go, and if the score allows them to. Obviously, the hope is that Ash will stay healthy all season, but if not, Swoopes needs to get some playing time early so that he'll feel comfortable chipping in if needed. Even beyond the doomsday scenario of an injury at the position, the staff wants to get Swoopes out there and put him in positions to succeed, so that he can start to build confidence.
3) Kent Perkins
Perkins might be the last person listed here, but if you asked staff members honestly about which freshman has the most potential, he might be the first one listed. Insiders have compared him to former Longhorn talent Derrick Dockery, an All-American in 2002 and a 10-year NFL veteran. Like Dockery, Perkins has the ability to play tackle, and like Dockery, Perkins is listed early on in his career at guard. Texas sees Perkins as an eventual tackle, but it's easier to get talented players on the field early at guard if they have the strength — because they don't have to worry about being isolated against elite pass-rushers — and Perkins definitely has the strength. Fellow guard Trey Hopkins said that Perkins was the strongest freshman offensive lineman he's seen come through the program. Will Perkins play on Saturday? It's unclear. He's currently listed as the No. 2 right guard behind mainstay Mason Walters, with redshirt freshman Curtis Riser listed as hot on his tail at the No. 3 spot.