After 8 days of spring football (with 7 practices to go before the Orange-White Game on April 18 at 1 pm CT), here's where things stand as of Monday on the injury front and position by position:

LB Dalton Santos (ankle) and CB Jermaine Roberts (knee) are both having surgery. Charlie Strong said he thinks Santos will be back for fall camp.

No timetable on the return of Roberts and CB Sheroid Evans (knee), Strong said.

CB Duke Thomas (ankle) and WR Armanti Foreman (hamstring) are day to day. 

DT Chris Nelson, who is on the mend, as well as DT Desmond Jackson, DE Derick Roberson, WR Garrett Gray and RB Duke Catalon were all in The Pit Monday - carrying cinder blocks around the practice field.





QUARTERBACK - Tyrone Swoopes would be the starter if the season opener was tomorrow. But Jerrod Heard is starting to string good practices together, and his confidence seems to be rising. 

Strong said Heard has even gotten snaps with the first-team offense. We got to see practice on Monday, and Heard had a really good day - hitting receivers in traffic in stride in 11-on-11 work and repeatedly connecting with receivers in 7-on-7 work in the red zone.

Heard would have had more completions, but Daje Johnson and Dorian Leonard couldn't hold onto passes the coaches yelled they should have caught.

"What you like about Jerrod is how hard he competes," Strong said. "He just needs to become more consistent and keep learning the offense. But he's a guy, when a play breaks down, he can make yards with his feet. He just needs to become more consistent."


OFFENSIVE LINE - Joe Wickline is still mixing and matching like crazy. On Monday, the guys running with the first team O-line were:

LT Marcus Hutchins, LG Brandon Hodges (Sed Flowers was in The Pit with a minor injury Monday), C Taylor Doyle, RG Kent Perkins, RT Connor Williams.

The second-team O-line: LT Tristan Nickelson, LG Alex Anderson, C Jake Raulerson, RG Elijah Rodriguez, RT Camrhon Hughes

In team situations, it was impressive to watch Connor Williams repeatedly get his block on the line and then scale to the second level and get on a linebacker. I saw Williams do that more Monday than I saw the entire Texas offensive line do that during the season last year. If this kid keeps coming, he could very well be starting at OT vs Notre Dame, and I wouldn't be sweating that as a fan. I'd be welcoming it. Williams is going to be an NFL player.


RUNNING BACK - Johnathan Gray continues to look good in the spring. But you can tell the coaches are excited about Donald "Duke" Catalon. Strong said in a scrimmage on Saturday Catalon ran over a defender, and it surprised the head coach. "I was like, 'Dang Duke.' He's got the strength to run over you, and he's got good speed. 

"We think he can be an every-down back, because he's got soft hands, and he can pick up the blitz."

D'Onta Foreman continues to draw praise from the coaches as well. That's a pretty solid stable of three backs right now.


RECEIVERS/TE - Here comes Dorian Leonard. On Monday, Leonard  and Marcus Johnson were the outside receivers in a 3-WR set with Jacorey Warrick running first-team as the slot. In 4-WR sets, both Daje Johnson and Warrick were in the slot. 

Leonard was cramping a bit in Monday's practice. And Strong said that cramping was a good thing for CB Antwuan Davis (replacing injured starter Duke Thomas), or Leonard would have beaten Davis deep a couple times.

The receiver who had the best day and kept getting called onto the field by WR coach Jay Norvell was walk-on Ty Templin

Templin had a really good day, catching three TD passes from Jerrod Heard in 7-on-7 work in the red zone.

Blake Whiteley got most of the work at TE Monday because Andrew Beck was missing with a class conflict apparently. Whiteley has soft hands, but he still doesn't look big or strong enough to be an in-line blocker who could set the edge.


DEFENSIVE LINE - The coaches were trying out some different line combinations Monday, so on the first-team DL (almost always a 4-man line today) you had:

LDE Shiro Davis, DT Poona Ford, DT Paul Boyette, RDE Naashon Hughes

The 2nd-team DL: LDE Bryce Cottrell, DT Jake McMillon, DT Hassan Ridgeway, RDE Quincy Vasser

I thought McMillon did a decent job of holding up at the point of attack. Reminds me of a young Derek Lokey, which is a really good thing. I also like Bryce Cottrell - he's put on good weight and is pushing Shiro Davis, which is exactly what needs to happen.


LINEBACKER - With Santos out for the rest of the spring, it's Tim Cole's time to shine. He's a junior-to-be and should be the starting MLB in the spring game.

Peter Jinkens and Ed Freeman and even Malik Jefferson got looks at MLB on Monday. For some reason, Jinkens is almost too hyper to play MLB, and Freeman is a former safety spun down and is natural at OLB. Cole is the guy who needs to step up, and I think he can. We'll see.

Greg Robinson really liked Tim Cole, so I know Cole knows the game. He lacks the athleticism and lateral quickness of the other LBs, and against spread teams, that hurts Cole.

"Tim Cole's in there, and he's doing a really good job," Strong said.


DEFENSIVE BACK - Good day of practice for LCB Bryson Echols (stepping up for injured Sheroid Evans) and S Dylan Haines, who both picked off Tyrone Swoopes on Monday in 11-on-11.

Antwuan Davis got work with the first team at RCB in place of injured starter Duke Thomas (who apparently injured his ankle after intercepting Swoopes in Saturday's scrimmage, according to Strong).

But the guy who keeps catching my eye in that secondary is redshirt freshman John Bonney. Despite all the injuries back there, the coaches have kept him at nickel corner. I'm told that's where he's going to play in 2015, and he diagnoses and makes quick decisions and is physical.

On Monday, Bonney got his hands on Jacorey Warrick and drove him 5 yards backwards - completely out of any route, completely out of the play.

And say what you want about Dylan Haines, Strong loves him (calls him "White Lightning") because Haines makes great decisions, makes plays on the ball and tackles well. 

I've said this before, I can't wait to see DeShon Elliott aka "The Kraken" on the field at Texas. But he may be going after Jason Hall's position. We'll see. 



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