Receivers Dominate, Freshmen Emerge Saturday

Make no mistake -- the first week of Two-Every-Other-Days for Texas has belonged to SE <B>Roy Williams </B>and TE <B>Bo Scaife</B>. The duo proved again Saturday that there are none finer at their respective<B> </B>positions in D-I football. But, already, some key freshmen are starting to state their cases for losing their 'shirts, as the Horns donned shoulder pads for the first time this season.

Meanwhile, much attention has been focused on starting center, where challenger Will Allen has pushed aside incumbent Jason Glynn, who started all 13 games. But Allen sprained his thumb Friday, which put Glynn back with the top unit. Glynn gives up four inches and nearly 25 pounds to the 6-6, 297-pound Allen.

"That would mean Jason is the starter as of right now," Brown said. "We’ve got to work someone in behind him."

FR-RS Lyle Sendlein took snaps with the second team Saturday.

First things first: if the ball touches Williams fingertips, he holds on to it. But if the ball is anywhere near Scaife’s radar screen, he goes after it and usually gets it. Whether he dives for the ball, goes airborne, or mixes it up in heavy traffic over the middle, Scaife has contributed a canister’s worth of highlight reel material in just three days.

"The potential of this group is the best we’ve ever had, if you look across the board at tight end and at wide receiver," head coach Mack Brown said. "We need Bo healthy, and so far he’s had three good days. It looks like he’s in good shape. Potentially, with our wide receiver corps, and with the experience and ability of our tight ends, this could be the best group that we’ve ever been around."

Then there’s the freshmen. Brown prohibits new recruits from talking to the media until after they’ve played their first game. He has taken a more low key approach to discussing freshmen because he said he does not want them to be concerned with depth-chart consideration until the preseason is complete. But, hey, it’s pretty clear when the first and second teams are on the field. (Williams at SE, Cedric Benson at RB…that would be, uh, the first team, coach?)

"It’s still too early (to evaluate)," Brown said, "With shorts, you get in trouble because you start making decisions on freshmen. Joe Jamail told me one time that playing football without pads is like swimming without a pool. I think that’s true. We’re not going to get too high on a freshman until we watch him after about the tenth day when he’s tired. But it is a good freshman class. The numbers aren’t as big as we’ve had in the past, so it didn’t get as much attention. But I don’t think there’s a bad player in the group. I think they’ll all have a chance to help us at some point."

Brown is right to keep premature depth chart projections from becoming a distraction to the freshmen, but there’s no mistaking when, and where, certain newbies are sprinkled into the lineup.

Add to that incredible mix of receivers one Limas Sweed. At 6-5, 205, he is an inch taller than Roy and weighs about the same. More important, he possesses the same stride his pass routes (a long, fluid stride that makes it look effortless) as does Williams.

Toward the end of Saturday’s practice, Sweed collected a 50-yard TD grab on play-action from third-team QB Matt Nordgren. Here’s a crazy stat: nearly half of his 73 catches during his final three seasons at Washington Brenham High were for touchdowns. Sweed will be especially appreciated next season during Year One of the Post-Williams era.

LB Robert Killebrew has taken significant snaps with the second team (and a hybrid of second and third team players). DE Tim Crowder has remarkably quick feet for a man of his stature (6-4, 235) and, on a couple of occasions, blew past LT Jonathan Scott. Crowder could go a long way toward shoring up depth at DE. (Speaking of DE, senior Kalen Thornton has looked virtually unstoppable. We know the kids are still in shorts, but Thornton woulda had four sacks Saturday)

On another occasion, Scott welcomed DB Tarell Brown to college. Brown (generously listed at 6-0, 180) was a Parade All-American stud at North Mesquite High but most OL in his district don’t come at you with the size (6-7, 305) of Scott. Brown was attempting to cover Williams on a short-hitch, but (you could see this coming from a mile away) instead experienced the sudden impact of a head-on collision with a pulling Scott. The result was a resounding thud heard 'round the field and catcalls from the offense.

As expected, freshmen DBs like Brown are being called off of the sideline when second and third teams are on the field (notably, Aaron Ross, Eric Foreman, Brandon Foster, Michael Griffin, Erick Jackson).

RB Erik Hardeman has some wheels, but you wonder if the Pflugerville speedster will hold on to his redshirt considering the presence of Benson, sophomore Selvin Young and tough senior RB Brett Robin ahead of him in the depth charts.

"Our first day in shoulder pads is always important to us because it sets the tempo," Brown said. "I thought practice was okay. It wasn’t as good as the first two. But when you change into pads, it does change a little bit."

Finally, and this may not be as small a thing as it appears, but there seems to be a void of vocal leadership among the upperclassmen. We’re not talking about guys functioning as cheerleaders, but rather the highly amped, coach-on-the-field, persona that guys like DE Cory Redding and CB Rod Babers embodied these past couple of seasons.

"I thought we were sluggish early and we’ll talk to our seniors about making sure that it doesn’t happen again," Brown said.

Coaches spent Saturday afternoon watching practice films while seniors were scheduled to attend supper at Brown’s home. The Horns took their annual team photo at 2:30 p.m.

"Some of the them will gripe about being in the heat because of that," Brown said. (Where is Frank Medina when you need him?)

Texas will practice at 7:45 a.m., Sunday before donning full pads at 3:30 p.m., Monday.


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