DEs not named Cedric Reed
There are no sure things as Texas gets set to begin spring practice today. But if there was one of them would be that Reed is going to play… a lot. Should he build off of what he did a season ago, Reed could end up in the discussion for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Question is, who is going to play opposite him?
The most obvious candidates are Shiro Davis, Caleb Bluiett and Bryce Cottrell in no particular order. Though if we were to build a depth chart we'd have Davis as the other starter with Bluiett right on his heels.
Thing is, no one knows how good Davis is going to be. He's shown glimpses and that dominant All-American DE that was originally committed to LSU. But he's also had moments of "Wait, was he even on the field?"
He's going to be pushed by Bluiett for that starting spot. Bluiett, one of the hardest workers on the team, was one of Texas' best players in last season's spring game. He started at defensive end in the Alamo Bowl against Oregon.
Cottrell, a former Oregon pledge, played in 11 games in 2013 and had his best outing against Texas Tech when he had one tackle, including a tackle-for-loss and a sack.
All three of these candidates should be very wary of incoming freshman Derick Roberson, though. He might just be too good to keep off the field.
Let's not forget how good Norman was out of Dallas Bishop Dunne. A U.S. Army All-American, Norman tallied 56 tackles, 29 tackles-for-loss, seven sacks, one blocked punt, one blocked field goal, and recorded 37 pancake blocks as a senior.
He came to Texas a little too heavy but worked his way down to a much more manageable 295-300 pound range. But there just hasn't been much of an opportunity to play with DTs in front of him like Chris Whaley, Desmond Jackson, Malcom Brown and Hassan Ridgeway.
Jackson, Brown, and Ridgeway all return, but there is opportunity for a fourth DT to play in the Big 12. Norman, whose grandfather, Pettis Norman, spent 12 seasons in the NFL, could be that guy but he'll have to show marked improvement over the next month before incoming freshmen Poona Ford and Chris Nelson get to town.
Tight ends figure to be featured in a much larger pass-catching roll with the new staff, and no TE should benefit from that more than McFarland.
He may not have caught a single pass a season ago but when he was asked to in 2012 he did so admirably to the tune of eight receptions for 125 yards and one touchdown.
McFarland has all the athleticism needed to be the most productive option in pass-catching scenarios for TE coach Bruce Chambers. But he'd better show that he's capable of holding his own in the trenches before Blake Whiteley gets to campus.
In addition to McFarland, Texas returns Geoff Swaim and Greg Daniels, who are much more versed in blocking than McFarland is at this point. If he can get that part of his game down this spring and carry it over into the fall, he should be in line for a big season catching the ball.
2013 WR signees
Be it Jake Oliver, Montrel Meander, or Jacorey Warrick, all three need to have good springs to assure themselves of being on the coaching staff's radar before the five WRs Texas signed in 2014 get to campus.
There are some talented players amongst that handful whose size and skillset could be really appealing to the new coaching staff. Lorenzo Joe is 6-foot-2, Dorian Leonard is 6-4, Garrett Gray is 6-5 and Armanti Foreman is 6-0. You've also got speed-demon Roderick Bernard, who stands 5-10.
They are going to test the 2013 signees with hopes of earning some of the snaps left by Mike Davis' departure.