HD Mailbag: Malik, Shaka, Augie, Attrition

In this week's HD Mailbag I answer questions about a host of UT football topics and much more.

QUESTION FROM HD SUBSCRIBER DiggsTX:

Will, I noticed you and Malik exchange some joking tweets the other day. I imagine a big part of your job is developing relationships with players so that they'll trust and open up to you. Is this process of earning a recruit's trust difficult? And do you often maintain relationships with recruits throughout their college career? That seems like it would be one of the most rewarding parts of the job.

ANSWER:

One of the more gratifying things about the covering recruits aspect of my job is building relationships with these guys. No doubt about it. It definitely is a challenge to build trust and maintain these relationships for a few reasons. The main challenge is due to the sheer number of people covering recruiting. That makes it difficult to create solid bonds with the recruits because they are getting hounded by so many different people. I refuse to be one of those annoying recruiting guys. There’s a huge life element to this that I don’t think some people get. There’s so much else to this job than getting the scoop or a top 5 list. There’s a human element to it that I make sure to touch on. I want these kids to succeed regardless of where they go. Guys like Malik don’t come around all that often. Rarely will you find a recruit so popular yet so gracious with his time. He’s a real, down-to-earth dude. I’m honored to call him a friend. Case in point, my grandfather passed away on Thursday. One of the first people to text me was Malik Jefferson. That’s real.

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QUESTION FROM HD SUBSCRIBER 2football:

Any position changes in the mix that you guys know of after player interviews?

ANSWER:

Except for those on the offensive line still trying to figure out exactly where they’ll be, we haven’t heard of any potential position changes. I guess I should add what is happening with those linebackers currently on the roster to the mix with the OL. There are several guys there having to play different positions while numbers are low. But that will change this fall. We know Jake McMillon moved back to the defensive line this spring. Other than that, there aren’t any that come to mind. Not right now at least.

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QUESTION FROM HD SUBSCRIBER skafti:

Any news or updates re: player attrition following the spring game and coach / player discussions? If we set the over / under at 4.5, what would you take based on what you've heard so far?

ANSWER:

I’d probably take the under but wouldn’t feel totally confident in that bet right now. Some of the names to at least keep an eye on are Darius James, Alex Anderson, Jake Oliver and Erik Huhn. We’ll have more on these guys shortly.

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QUESTION FROM HD SUBSCRIBER skafti:

With most of the 2015 recruits arriving on campus at the beginning of June, what will their first couple months look like as far as assimilating into the program and UT in general (will they be taking any classes, coach interaction, practices, weight room activities, etc)?

ANSWER:

Yes to all of the above. All of them should have had a personal strength and conditioning program worked up for them by Pat Moorer. So they should come in ready to hit the ground running. If not, good luck to them. They’ll get settled into their dorms and go through orientation. Many will take summer courses. Then they Will Pretty much immediately get moving with team activities, be it voluntary or involuntary. These next two months are going to fly by before fall camp starts up.

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QUESTION FROM HD SUBSCRIBER potroman:

Sorry for the boring question: injury updates? Particularly Roberson and Roberts?

ANSWER:

There has been nothing definitive from UT on these guys. From what I understand, though, both are moving in the right direction and should be able to go for fall camp. Roberts needs to get back ASAP so he doesn’t get lost in the shuffle with all of these freshmen DBs coming in.

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QUESTION FROM HD SUBSCRIBER jbell3:

Thoughts on Mykkele Thompson in 5th round, and Geoff Swaim being drafted?

Did you see it coming or were these surprises to you?

ANSWER:

I’d be lying if I told you I saw Swaim getting selected, but it is not a huge surprise. He was one of the very top blocking tight ends in the draft and the Cowboys love that about him. And he’s always maintained with me that he has the ability to be a difference-maker in the passing game. He just didn’t get a chance to at UT. He’ll be a practice team guy to start off but you never know what can happen as the season gets underway. Dallas hasn’t always had the best of luck keeping TE’s healthy.

I’ve got to hand it to Chip on Thompson. He had been saying that Mykkele was going to make some money in the NFL and low-and-behold he got selected much earlier than I thought. NFL scouts loved his speed and athleticism. Thompson even thought he was going to free agency. His versatility in the secondary is ultimately what led to the Giants selection him.

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QUESTION FROM HD SUBSCRIBER Mraplh9:

I feel like it's inevitable that Vance Bedford gets a head coaching job in the next couple years. When that happens, would it damage Texas' recruiting class and do you think there is somebody on the staff right now that would get promoted to take his place?

ANSWER:

Any time you lose a coordinator, especially one with a personality as big as Bedford’s, it’s going to hurt. But I think the Longhorns would rebound nicely if this happened. It’s Texas. With defensive players, more so than offensive players in my eyes, their relationship with their position coach is extremely important. So I think Texas would be OK.

There are guys on this staff that could step into Bedford’s shoes, but I’d imagine a splash hire would be in order should this happen.

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QUESTION FROM HD SUBSCRIBER Bigdaddy6363:

Just watched the Texas basketball practice video on Espn. How does this practice compare to Barnes' practice and what are your realistic expectation for the season?

ANSWER:

You have to remember that Barnes always wanted to push the pace with his bigs. He wanted his bigs to be the best-conditioned bigs in the country. It didn’t always pan out that way, but that was the mindset. So his practices were fast-paced. Not Shaka-paced, but fast.

Realistic expectations for this upcoming season are fairly high. I think the Longhorns finish in the top 3 in the Big 12 and win at least one game in the NCAA Tournament. Getting Taylor back was obviously huge. Moving forward, the biggest concerns I have for this team are what they are going to do at the 3 and 4. The Longhorns really need Jordan Barnett to find his jumper. He’s athletic and big enough to play some 4 if needed with certain lineups. Texas also has to hope that these two freshmen sharpshooters are as good as advertised. I think they are. Eric Davis is a special talent and Kerwin Roach is a straight scoring machine. He’s got to get stronger though.

Another key for me is how Shaquille Cleare and Cameron Ridley will hold up in this style of play. UT needs their size down low. Prince Ibeh could be the biggest beneficiary of this system. Look for him to have his best season yet.

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QUESTION FROM HD SUBSCRIBER dogus:

Will Augie be retained after this disappointing season?

What are you hearing from your sources?

Much of the hype/optimism for this season came from statements he made saying that this was one of his better teams.

ANSWER:

This is such a tough question. I think Augie kind of fell into the same situation Rick Barnes did in that he had more success with a team that he wasn’t expected to last season than he is with a team that should be having success this season.

I think it’s going to be tough for him to come back after this season. But he’s going to fight like hell to stay (if he wants to stay).

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