Hills Won't Report Till '04; Two Defenders Out

Freshman TE <B>Tony Hills</B>, considered the offensive jewel of Texas 2003 recruiting class, will not be in a Longhorn uniform this fall and is expected to have more knee surgery on August 15, it was announced Wednesday when players reported to campus.

Sophomore LB Aaron Harris and freshman DB Steve Richardson were also MIA, but should join team later in the year, head coach Mack Brown said. Players will practice in helmets and shorts at 3:30 p.m., Thursday at Frank Denius Field.

All other 2003 Longhorns reported, although senior FB Ivan Williams and sophomore DE Mike Williams have not been cleared to practice, Brown said.

More than one source close to Hills’ situation reports coaches are very concerned about possible nerve damage as a result of a knee injury suffered last December in the Texas State high school playoffs. Hills was a Parade All-American for 5A Division I semifinalist Houston Alief Elsik during his senior campaign.

"I’m disappointed that I won’t be joining the team today," Hills said in a statement, "but I think it’s in my best interest to focus my energy on getting my knee well. On August 15, I will have knee surgery to clean my knee up. The next few months I am going to concentrate on rehabbing. I’ll be with the guys at 100 percent in the spring."

Richardson, a second-team all-state selection out of Garland, is now contending with "some NCAA Clearinghouse issues" before he can participate in preseason workouts.

"Hopefully this will be taken care of and I’ll be in Austin as soon as possible," he said in a press release.

Harris’ delay is vaguely attributed to an "administrative issue" but he said (in a written statement), "I’ll be back and ready to go for the first game."

The season opener is set for 6 p.m., Sunday, August 31.

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