The future is now for these Longhorns.
Malik Jefferson spoke politically correct earlier this week when he said that this season was about the seniors who haven’t won all that much on the 40 Acres. He’s right. It should be about those guys.
But those upperclassmen aren’t going to see success unless the 2015 crop of freshmen play early and often for the Longhorns.
“Well, that's where your future is right now, with those young guys,” Charlie Strong said. “One time I looked out there on defense and there was (Kris) Boyd at corner, Holton Hill at corner, and there's Malik (Jefferson) at linebacker and (Edwin) Freeman at linebacker, there's (Charles) Omenihu and you're looking out there. And I said to (Coach) Vance (Bedford), I go, look at all those young guys out there on defense right now.
“Then on offense you look at the two freshmen [Boyd and Hill], look at (John) Burt outside, you look at, even (D'Onta) Foreman, he didn't play a lot last year. And then Chris Warren and then there's Jerrod at quarterback.
“So you have a very talented, very talented young group. And the thing that was going to happen with them was the more they play, the better they're going to get. And it's going to be game experience and it's going to be some that where we may not play so well, but they will be out on the field and you like, what you like about them is they compete and they do everything I ask them to do.”
The freshmen's fingerprints were all over this W. Boyd caused a fumble, which Jefferson scooped up and returned for a TD. Burt caught a 69-yard touchdown pass from Jerrod Heard. Breckyn Hager intercepted a pass to end the game. Connor Williams and Patrick Vahe looked improved on the offensive line.
The future certainly appeared much brighter on Saturday than it did that time a week ago.
Jefferson is never one to shine the spotlight on himself, but he knows that he and his fellow freshmen need to make things happen for this team to be successful this season.
“It has to happen now,” he said. “Everything has to happen now. We've got to have that fluid feeling now so we can be great in the future and know what greatness is.”
Where does this confidence that Jefferson exudes come from?
“That's definitely how I was raised,” he said. “You never want to be on the bottom of the totem pole. You always want to fix things that are broken and this program is not broken, we're just shaking a little bit. You just have to look back on what you have, take your time and everybody has to focus and go for one goal. I think that everybody is really excited about that.”
For those wondering if in any way, shape or form these freshmen, and the approach they are taking to help direct this program in the right direction, are causing any problems in the locker room, think again.
“I feel like the whole team is a family now,” Daje Johnson said. “Everybody bought in, everybody wants to win, and everybody wants to move forward. With that, you can really do something with the program.”