Taylor Estes - Horns Digest

Texas Longhorns Football Practice Notes: Longhorns Weigh in on Spring Practice

Texas made kicker Trent Domingue, safety Dylan Haines, and o-linemen Connor Williams and Patrick Vahe available to the media following the Longhorns morning practice. Here's what the players had to say.

Kicker Trent Domingue

Moving on after LSU did not renew his scholarship: Well, I ended up leaving LSU, just kind of went a different way than I expected. But that's life and you've just got to move on and I'm definitely glad I made this decision. This is an awesome place and I couldn't really be in a better spot right now. It was crazy how it worked out but I'm glad it did.

How he learned about the opening at Texas: I didn't really follow Texas when I was at LSU but I kind of saw some spring interviews and saw that so I thought it might be a good opportunity for maybe a kicker. I kind of just was looking around and actually my fiancée sent a link that said Coach Strong needed a kicker. I didn't really think much of it at the time but I kind of just gathered all my resources and looked up the rosters and stuff.

His game-winning fake field goal at LSU vs. Florida: That was awesome. There's not many coaches in the nation or in the world really that would call a play like that in a game like that at that time in the game. So I mean I thanked him many times and I love Coach Miles, he's awesome. That's why they call him the Mad Hatter. But that was amazing and I've just got to thank him for the opportunity.

Factors that drew him to Texas: They said they needed a kicker and that was probably the biggest thing obviously, but the fact that it's in Austin is pretty cool. I've been here one time before and I had gotten to see everything and actually living here now is really cool. I just knew that Austin was awesome and UT is awesome too, as a school and everything, and the graduate program ­– it's just awesome to be here.

Difference in being at Texas, a program that values his presence on the roster: It's definitely cool. You can kind of see it in the coaches and how they support me. I don't expect to come here and be the starting kicker, I want to compete and make sure that I've earned the job. I didn't come here thinking I was the starter, I wanted to compete with the other guys that were here in the spring and here for two or three years before me.

Safety Dylan Haines

Ping-pong competition among players: I think it's awesome. The players lounge kind of used to be a spot where people would go and take naps, people would go and relax. And now we've added all these different games and stuff and it just provides more areas for competition for the players and it gets us all in there and all involved with talking to one another. So I think it's just a better team-building aspect now than it has been before.

His view of the quarterback competition: It's good. A lot of quarterbacks getting first and second team reps so obviously there's no clear starter and I think that's been pointed out by Coach Strong. So everyone has to go out and just kind of keep battling, keep making plays and keep showing that they should be the starter. You see a lot of great things from Tyrone, he's still improving as a player coming into his senior year, still getting better, still noticing things from a DB's perspective, things that you would notice, not making mistakes, making throws, making checkdowns when he should. And then you look at Shane, just a young kid, you'd expect from a true freshman to see a lot of mistakes and you just don't. So both of them are working really hard, both of them have a lot of strengths, but they also have some weaknesses so it'll be interesting to see how it plays out.

The addition of Trent Domingue at kicker: That's always great. Anytime we can add someone to our team that's going to help us win, that's going to be a plus for everyone. So it'll be good to have him out there kicking field goals. If he's kicking the way he's been kicking the last few years at LSU then I assume he'll have no problem being a great kicker for us.

How has Swoopes improved: He's just kept that same mentality that he's had, which is just to go out and be the best player he can be. He doesn't really worry about what Shane's doing, what any of the other quarterbacks are doing or let anything get to him, or the fact that the reps are being split between the two. He just works to improve his game. He's gotten a lot smarter as well. You saw him playing the last few years that he made some throws that he shouldn't have made and he's eliminating those. They're getting less and less often, so you have to admire that from a guy like him. He's not going to give up. He's definitely still pushing for that starting job.

Offensive Lineman Connor Williams

Progress of freshmen offensive linemen in camp: They came in with a good attitude and they've been pushing us. They're eager to work hard.

How Jake McMillan is handling his transition to center: He's working hard. He's spending extra time in the film room to make sure he gets his assignments right and he's trying to understand the offense.

Playing next to Patrick Vahe: Patrick's a great player to play next to. Great run blocker and pass blocker and I'm excited to play next to him. We both see the work we need to put in and we both see that we need to be leaders on the O-line and push the younger guys and push the O-line as a whole.

Matt Mattox's positive reinforcement: He's a great family guy and if you need something you can come to him. If you have a question he's an open book.

His advice to freshmen: Mostly just to put the stars behind them and put their heads down and work hard and stay humble. Understand that there are people that know more than you, to start learning from them and see the big picture.

The new offense: It's a lot faster tempo. The passing game and running game is all combined now so we're all working as a team.

Sophomore Offensive Lineman Patrick Vahe

The differences between last fall's camp and this year's: Everybody's more focused in. We all have the same goal and we're going to try to execute. That's how it's different.

How Zach Shackleford has improved: He's matured as a player. Coming from spring ball, I thought he's been here for three years but he's only been here for six, seven months. This guy grown as a player and it brings us together because we see he's on the same page as us. He's a really mature player.

What his relationship is with Connor Williams: Me and Connor, we're good friends. We played each other in high school. We beat him but he's a good guy. I bring it up all the time, every time I walk into the locker room. We both have different ways of playing the game and we try to put it together in unison. If we're trying to double team on one player, we try to make sure that our steps are there and that we can execute the play and make sure that we score.

How his experience as a freshman starter has helped him be a leader: For me, I just feel for myself that we can make our presence known and really that's just basically how the team feels going into the first game. 




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