S. Young, Dibbles, Jackson To Miss Spring Drills

Senior DT Larry Dibbles, junior RB Selvin Young and sophomore CB Erick Jackson will miss the spring football season, it was announced Tuesday. Although coach Mack Brown said all three will be back for summer workouts, it begs the question: is there a RB in the house when spring drills begin February 25?

Currently, the only scholarship RBs on campus are sophomore-to-be Ramonce Taylor and freshman recruit Michael Houston. Brown said SS Drew Kelson, who converted to RB last fall to shore up depth problems following Young’s season-ending ankle injury, will move back to the secondary this spring. Brown, who said last week that any able bodied athlete capable of playing RB will play there this spring regardless of what position they were projected to play next fall, may have to reconsider. Bobby Tatum also got a brief look at the spot early in the fall.

Since Brown places a premium on athletes with game-day experience, look for Taylor to occupy the starting RB position at the beginning of drills but then yield that spot to Houston and (if, indeed, eligible) to Young when two-a-days begin next August. Offensive coaches said throughout last season that Taylor is projected as an all-purpose back while either Young or one of the incoming freshmen will likely be the featured back.

Brown couldn’t stop talking about Houston on National Signing Day, praising the 6-0, 230-pounder from Denver Montbello for his "power and speed." The Associated Press honorable mention 5A All-State pick rushed for 1,414 yards (No. 6 in the state) and scored 23 TDs on 202 attempts last season.

Help is on the way in the three other RBs Texas signed last week. Parade All-American Jamaal Charles has the strength to move the pile between the tackles plus the speed to get outside. Jerrell Wilkerson, another AP first-team 5A All-State pick and a USA Today All-American, is a San Antonio Clark product who broke all of Priest Holmes’ city-wide rushing records when he ran for 7,249 career yards.

"The only question was his size," Brown said of the 5-7, 190-pound Wilkerson. "He can catch, he can play flanker, he can play tailback, he can return kicks. We’ve got him coming in as an all-around athlete."

Then, at the opposite end of the spectrum is Grapevine RB Henry Melton, a load at 6-3. 270 pounds and a second-team USA Today selection. I asked Brown if coaches might consider Melton as a FB.

"We’ll look at him as a tailback first," Brown replied, before adding, "He can catch, he can block and he can run. He’s got tremendous quickness and power."

Young, who has 1,622 career all-purpose yards, has yet to prove himself durable. The speedy RB and PR was lost for 2004 during the second game of the year at Arkansas. During his freshman campaign, Young never fully recovered from a groin injury suffered the third game at Rice.

Dibbles posted 49 tackles, 1.5 sacks and five tackles for loss en route to first-team All-Big 12 honors last fall. Given the Horns' depth at DT, his loss is not nearly as acute as the loss of Young. All-everything tackle Rod Wright returns for his senior campaign, but he'll probably see more of the sideline than the field as Frank Okam and Derek Lokey and, to a lesser extent, rehabbing Tully Janszen (plus Thomas Marshall and Marco Martin) gain valuable experience that the already proven Wright does not need. Okam contributed significantly as a true freshman last fall, and Lokey saw spot duty, turning in one of the defensive plays of the Rose Bowl with his TFL on Michael Hart deep in Michigan territory in the fourth quarter, while Janszen missed the '04 season after suffering a knee injury last August. Brown said recently that Janszen is expected to be available but limited during the first half of spring and should be ready for more contact after spring break.

Jackson saw limited action as a nickel back but, generally, was one of the more improved players on the defense.

It was also announced that junior WR Dustin Miksch has been forced to give up football due to a series of concussions. He will continue to work with the Longhorns, assisting the defensive backs.

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