With Flowers out, Horns suddenly thin at WR

Senior <B>Montrell Flowers</B>, who took a big hit from UNC FS <B>Dexter Reid </B>early in the third quarter of Saturday's win over the Heels, suffered a lacerated kidney on the play. Tests conducted earlier this week revealed that Flowers was born with only one kidney, and because that kidney has now been injured, it is no longer safe for the Dallas Skyline native to play a contact sport such as football. Flowers, who is a true senior, hopes to continue his track career at The University.

Heading into this fall, Flowers, who upon coming out of high school was considered one of the top overall prospects in the state, seemed destined for a diminished role in the Texas offense. Matching his '99 (34 catches for 552 yards and six TDs) or even '00 (22 for 234 and two TDs) numbers also seemed unlikely. But in the opener vs. New Mexico State, the senior wideout caught four passes for 54 yards and equaled his entire '00 TD production with two. He caught one pass for six yards before leaving the Carolina game.

Despite the appearance of depth at the position, the Longhorn wide receiver spot is now an area of concern because of sheer numbers. Texas only has five scholarship players at the position -- sophomores SE Roy Williams, FL B.J. Johnson and SE Sloan Thomas, redshirt freshman FL Tony Jeffery and true freshman FL Brian Carter -- along with walk-on FL Kyle Shanahan. Those totals seem adequate until you consider that the Horns often run a five-wide offense, meaning that even slight injuries to two of the six may limit the team's offensive options. Now, the loss of true freshman athlete and projected wideout Quan Cosby to pro baseball looms larger than it did when it occurred a little over two months ago.

The concern at receiver is exacerbated by Williams' nagging ankle problems. Against UNC, Williams seldom if ever separated deep from his defender, something he did with regularity last season. He also didn't look to have the burst of speed that he showed last year on the end around play. As I wrote in my offensive game analysis piece, because of his long strides, Williams is still deceptively quick, but the bone spurs in his ankle seem to be slowing him slightly.

Based on the current depth chart, the split end spot is occupied by only Williams and Thomas. With the return from injury last week of Shanahan to the flanker spot, Jeffery, who the coaches double-trained during two-a-days, may slide from flanker to split end. FYI, the coaches also double-trained Roy and Sloan in August.

Notes: The Horns practiced for a little over an hour Tuesday. O.J. McClintock, although limited, returned to the practice field for the first time since spring. Back in March, the junior switched from LB to DE and made an immediate impact at the position and was slated to back-up starter Cory Redding at left defensive end. McClintock's injury and the transfer of Adam McConathy forced the staff to move LBs Marcus Wilkins and Reed Boyd to DE during two-a-days. Boyd has since returned to LB, but Wilkins continues to provide depth behind Redding. Despite showing promise during August, Wilkins has shown little statistically so far this season, registering just two tackles (and missing others). The coaches plan to evaluate every position on the team during this off week, and back-up DE will certainly be one that gets a thorough review and possible revamping. . . . Mack Brown said Monday that Ervis Hill is going to get a look this week at the kick return spot alongside Victor Ike. With Ivan Williams playing more at tailback, Hill at kick returner would take a bit of the load off of Williams. The same analysis that is taking place at DE will also take place at tailback, so the rotation between Williams, Ike and Cedric Benson could change by the Houston game Sept. 22. Brown said Ike is simply so good as a return man that regardless of his playing time at tailback, he needs to be back in deep return. Brown also said that Vasher, who is on the field for just about every defensive snap and all punt returns, isn't likely to add kick return man to his résumé any time soon. . . . Redshirt freshman K Matt McFadden, who at one time looked to be the heir apparent to Kris Stockton, left the football team to "attend to personal issues," The University said Tuesday. Those personal issues are promotion of child pornography, a second-degree felony. A Dallas County grand jury indicted McFadden on charges alleging his involvement in taking and distributing nude photos of a 17-year-old girl (his one-time girlfriend). . . . The Horns will practice Wednesday and Thursday afternoon before taking the weekend off. . . . Finally, I apologize for the delay in posting the info and analyzing the implications of the Flowers injury. Frankly, the events of Tuesday, Sept. 11, so shocked, saddened and angered me, as they did so many Americans, that I literally could not and did not focus on anything else. The Flowers story and many others around the world of sports are important and meaningful, but within the context of what took place yesterday, they seemed almost trivial. Thankfully, Montrell will live to (probably) compete again in the Orange and White, albeit in the uniform of the track team rather than the football team. Sadly, so many innocent Americans will not see that day. If you are interested in more on the terrible events of Sept. 11 from a Longhorn perspective, please go to Thoughts on life and loss. Thanks for your understanding.

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