Spring Game Question

Each day this week LonghornDigest's William Wilkerson and Kevin Flaherty will each give their take on a question leading up to Texas' spring game on April 19.

Today's question: Who are three players flying under the radar that could have big day?


The first player would be sophomore defensive end Caleb Bluiett.

I know the consensus is that Shiro Davis will take over at defensive end for Jackson Jeffcoat. I agree with that. But I do think Bluiett will be a bigger player in the rotation than most think.

He was one of the standouts defensively in last year's spring game, and showed some promise in his limited playing time last fall. He played in nine games and got the start at DE in the Alamo Bowl. Bluiett, who is built like a rock, has a great motor and the type of attitude you like to see in any teammate.

The second guy is sophomore defensive tackle Alex Norman, who was reportedly one of Texas' better defensive players in its first scrimmage.

Norman came to Texas as a high school All-American from Dallas Bishop Dunne and is the grandson of Pettis Norman, who spent 12 seasons in the NFL as a tight end.

He's only recorded one tackle at UT but has worked really hard to get his weight down and could add depth to a defensive line that could be the backbone of the team in 2014.

The third player I'll single out is redshirt freshman linebacker Naashon Hughes. He could end up being a fan favorite after Saturday if he is able to accurately show his athleticism.

Texas has toyed with playing him in a hybrid LB/DE position, which seems to be the right move given his frame (6-foot-4 and 231 pounds) and above-average speed. He could play himself into quality playing time on Saturday.


1) Desmond Harrison. Spring games are vanilla affairs, with both coordinators promising to keep it so. That means that Harrison's assignments will be simple and he won't have to make reads on the fly. When he can just line up and drive people, he's really impressive, a first-round type talent with athleticism and a mean streak. His issues, at times, have come when he's had to make decisions on who to block. Per sources, he's improved in that regard this spring, but in the spring game, he won't really have to worry about it with the defense holding back its blitz packages. Expect Texas to be able to run the ball behind what is shaping up to be a physical offensive line, and don't be surprised if Harrison puts up a big performance as part of that running attack.

2) Mykkele Thompson. Charlie Strong and Vance Bedford had a special safety a year ago in Calvin Pryor, who they moved all over the field to take advantage of his talent. Pryor is now projected to go in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft. And while Thompson isn't that kind of player, the coaches have been impressed with his athleticism and ability to play multiple spots in the secondary, including at cornerback, where his length and speed truly shine. He might be needed at both spots this fall, depending on how well Sheroid Evans recovers, and he could have a nice spring game while playing both corner and safety.

3) Naashon Hughes. Many felt that the athletic redshirt freshman could have helped the Longhorns out last year, but he kept his redshirt on and received an extra year's development. Now, Hughes is in a spot where he's likely to see the field in some respect, even if it's just as a situational player. With the offense going vanilla in its passing concepts, it will be a chance for the defense to force the quarterbacks to hold onto the ball a bit longer. And that could give Hughes a chance to hit home with his pass rush.

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