Luckily for the Texas, the special teams returner and back-up tailback can be redshirted this season, enabling him to compete in the following two seasons. Much of the focus at practice this week, though, is geared towards finding replacements to fill the void on special teams and offense this season.
True freshmen defensive backs Bobby Tatum and Drew Kelson are getting looks as replacement kick returners while sophomore Aaron Ross is slated to take over punt return duties (as he did Saturday evening vs. the Razorbacks). Both Tatum and Kelson also took reps at the tailback position alongside freshman Ramonce Taylor.
"Our tailbacks will be a work in progress," said Brown. "Well try to make decisions before the weekend."
Even though Taylor, Tatum and Kelson are young and inexperienced at this level at the running back position, coming to UT projected to compete at defensive back, Brown expressed confidence in their abilities.
"All three of these guys are all candidates that we can be excited about as back-up tailbacks," said Brown.
As a prep, Taylor rushed for 3,899 yards and 52 touchdowns on 480 carries (8.1 ypc) during his final two prep seasons, including 2,370 yards on 262 carries (9 yards per carry) as a senior. He didn't see the field vs. the Pigs, but he almost broke the century mark in his Longhorn debut vs. North Texas, totaling 96 yards on four carries, including a 74-yarder. Tatum played both running back and defensive back in an injury-shortened senior season, compiling 526 yards rushing on just 62 carries (8.5 yards per carry), including a 99-yarder vs. Waxahachie. Kelson pulled similar double duty, totaling 80 carries for 738 yards (9.2 ypc) and 11 rushing TDs as a running back.
With a bye week scheduled for this weekend, the Longhorns get time to test out the youngsters before hosting Rice on Sept. 25th.
"We are lucky we are a talented football team and we do have some guys we can move around and make it work," said Brown. "Thank goodness weve got a week off to give us time to prepare."