Day One Practice Notes and Observations

Notes and observations from the Horns' Tuesday practice at Denius.

First off the bus: David Pino. Dusty Mangum, though, trotted onto the field with the first-team field goal unit at the beginning of practice.

Bet you didn't know: Cedric Benson moved to defense! (Well, that's what UT's roster handout says. Benson is listed with the White jerseyed defensive players. FYI, he practiced at running back.)

And now wearing the Orange No. 3: Selvin Young and Ramonce Taylor. Although consistently listed by UT as a DB (including on the roster handout), the Belton athlete worked at tailback Tuesday, behind Benson and Young. Erik Hardeman's absence is the probable reason for the move, but Taylor could earn himself a different Orange number if he's as explosive with the ball in his hands at Denius as he was as a high school senior.

Most ready to practice: Andrew Kelson. The true freshman strong safety waited for stretching to start by hopping up and down, as if on a trampoline, for minutes. Let's get this thing started, coach!

Most important audition: defensive end. Tim Crowder, of course, will start on one side, and Brian Robison is the only returning body on the other, and they worked with the first team Tuesday, but a lot of eyes (particularly those of the Dick Tomey) had to be on guys like Aurmon Satchell, Kaelen Jakes, Brian Orakpo and Nic Redwine, all of whom got 11-on-11 work at the position.

Biggest audition: return man. At least 13 players, including Nathan Jones, Tarell Brown, Jordan Shipley, Brian Carter, Dustin Miksch, Myron Hardy, Brandon Foster, Ryan Palmer, Phillip Geiggar, Aaron Ross, Selvin Young and Ramonce Taylor, took a turn at kickoff or punt return during the early practice special teams sessions.

Best impression of Rod Wright: Frank Okam. The true freshman DT ate up several of the offensive lineman -- mostly Terrance Young but also Mike Garcia at least once -- that tried to block him in 11-on-11 work. On Day One, he looked as good as advertised.

Best impression of B.J. Johnson: Tony Jeffery. The senior pass catcher did little catchin' early in practice. The dropsies extended to most of his position-mates as well, at one time or another, during the evening as the WRs and QBs struggled to get on the same page.

Spittin' image of Jermain Anderson: Brian Orakpo. Remember Texas City's Anderson? A member of Mack Brown's first recruiting class, he played as a true freshman and gave valuable snaps as a pass rusher but he never could bulk up his 6-3 frame past about 230 pounds and remained a bit player because size and injury over his four-year career. Cross your fingers that the same fate doesn't await the 6-3, 220-pound Orakpo. (Remember, though, that he is young for his class and has a lot of upside physically.)

Most pleasant surprise at wideout: Myron Hardy. The true freshman, who played running back last season at McNeil, appeared quite comfortable at his new position, making a couple of great adjustments as well as telescoping his arms to snag a ball off his shoe laces, among other nice catches.

Least surprising performance at wideout: Jordan Shipley. Expectations are high, and he met them, at least on Day One. His legs move so fast they're almost a blur and it's obvious watching him run routes and catch that he has been well-coached at the spot.

Most one-handed catch attempts: George Walker with two. The true freshman from Houston Westbury dropped the first ball thrown his way in pass drills when he tried to one-hand a slightly overthrown ball. Later, he tipped a poorly thrown ball into the air with one hand before (wisely) clamping on with two for the catch.

It ended like this: an INT return for a TD by Stevie Stigall. The senior 2nd-team SAM LB stepped in front of an Eric Foreman out pass and took it 50-plus yards through some of his 1st-team defensive teammates (who were preparing for a ones-vs.-ones 11-on-11 but who also celebrated his return), prompting Mack Brown to call an end to Day One on that high note for the D.

Bigger than expected: Chris Ogbonnaya. The true freshman wideout from Houston Strake Jesuit appeared bigger than he looked on game film or when I saw him in person at his high school in January.

Smaller than expected: Nic Redwine. If he and Robert Killebrew swapped jerseys, no one would know the difference. In other words, he looks like a linebacker. Heck, Andrew Kelson looks more like a DE than the Tyler Lee product. (But, Redwine did play the position in high school, and played it very well.)


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