Widely regarded as Texas' best pass rusher, Williams appeared in 11 games last season and logged one start at Baylor. Six of his 23 tackles were sacks (second best on the team). He added 15 QB pressures, five PBU and three forced fumbles primarily as a backup. He was clearly the starter at power end after rehabbing a knee injury suffered in spring 2003.
With pre-season camp slated to begin at 6 p.m., Tuesday, at Denius Field, all we can say for now is: Here's To You, Mister Robison. Sophomore Brian Robison switched from MLB to RDE last spring to shore up a position that was already thin.
"Brian Robison will have to step up there to help us out," head coach Mack Brown said Monday.
Now, the versatile athlete (who has a vertical jump like Spiderman) is the man opposite sophomore Tim Crowder. Coaches will take a hard look at some of the true freshmen coming in but are already making lineup changes among some of the returning lettermen.
"We'll have to look at some other guys to try to help us out," Brown said. "We're not sure who those are yet. We'll just have to look across our team and if someone's not starting at a position where they're athletic, we can give them a chance to play at the other position."
Both SLB Aurmon Satchell and junior LDT Kaelen Jakes will slide over to DE to help provide much needed relief. Jakes has played both tackle and end the past three years. He notched six appearances as a reserve DE in 2003 and was credited with five tackles and three QB pressures.
"Kaelen Jakes will probably need to move to power end, now, and stay," Brown said.
Journeyman Eric Hall will play LDE but is also being trained at SLB. The Horns are in good hands with Crowder, but it's stunning to realize that the only guy backing Crowder right now is Hall. Crowder was the first true freshman to earn a starting nod in 2003. He started the last nine games of the season to earn The Sporting News third-team Freshman All-American honors.
"(Hall will) start out more at SAM linebacker since he's played some at defensive end," Brown said.
The situation opens the door for true freshmen Brian Orakpo and Nic Redwine. Redwine (6-3, 215) was an Associated Press second-team Texas 5A selection at Tyler Lee. The two-time first-team all-district DE helped lead his team to the state quarterfinals during his final two seasons. Meanwhile, the 6-4, 220-pound Orakpo was a three-year starter for a Houston Lamar team that went 29-8 during his tenure. He was also a two-time, first-team all-district selection.
"We'll obviously look at the two freshmen coming in at defensive end." Brown said.
Several weeks ago, the Inside Scoop made mention of Pickryl's impending absence this fall. On Monday, the former Parade All-American from Tulsa issued this statement: "I came in (as a freshman) rehabbing a shoulder injury and have had two more shoulder surgeries since. I've been trying to get my shoulders strong enough the last few years and haven't been able to get back to 100 percent. I'm going to take a step back, try to get well and make a decision on my future at a later date. I can't thank Coach Brown, the staff, the guys and everyone at UT enough for all the support they've given me. I'm really disappointed, but there's no way I can help the team at this time if my shoulder isn't strong enough. I think it's in everyone's best interest if I concentrate on my health and work towards my degree for now. I want everyone to know that I haven't lost any of my passion for Texas football and that if I'm not playing, I'll be there supporting the guys every day."
It shapes up as a challenge for new DE coach Dick Tomey, architect of the 'Desert Swarm' defense when he was coach at Arizona. The depth is now dangerously thin at a time when Texas is determined to get more pressure on the quarterback, but it doesn't mean the cupboard is bare.
"He's got six and most people would like to have six defensive ends," Brown said of Tomey. "We've lost some good ones but thank goodness we've recruited well. We're not going to shut it down and not play."