Future Stars Fight For PT At Spring Drills

Spring training is the time for Longhorn underclassmen to make their move on the depth chart. Friday's session saw future defensive stars begin to emerge on a unit that is expected to be the most stalwart during head coach Mack Brown's eight-year tenure.

If there is a theme to spring training, it has been "effort and attitude", Brown said.

WLB Robert Killebrew is bringing both. Despite Brown's assertion that there are no depth charts, Killebrew is the heir apparent to Derrick Johnson's former spot even though he entered spring as backup to Eric Hall. I watched inside drills just to observe how Co-Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik and DE coach Oscar Giles handled the players during what are essentially toughness drills when your manhood is at stake. But what I saw was Killebrew. Five snaps into the session and Killebrew was involved in two fights. The first was with guard Kasey Studdard (if coaches had not broken it up, these two would still be fighting). Two plays later, Killebrew was going at it with FB Ahmard Hall. That's when Chizik stepped in, pulled Killebrew aside and (in essence) told him to harness some of that intensity and play under control.

I asked Brown about RS-freshman Scott Derry, since he opened with the first team 'D' instead of second-team All-Big MLB Aaron Harris. It has to do with Brown wanting the new coaches to evaluate talent without presuppositions based on previous depth charts (at least at certain positions).

"We've made a huge emphasis on there not being a depth chart," Brown told me. "Obviously, there's a few positions where guys have played for three or four years. But in positions where (RB coach) Ken Rucker, (new DE coach) Oscar Giles and Gene, they don't know the players. They'll (coaches) sit down with me after the seventh day of practice and we'll start looking at a depth chart for the last eight (practices). I thought it would be unfair for some of the kids who haven't played as much for me to tell Gene who should be where or for me to tell Oscar who should be where."

If there is a most-improved award for progress from spring-to-spring, it clearly goes to QB Vince Young. We can live with the shotput throwing motion on the intermediate routes. The spirals are tight, the tosses are accurate, and Young just simply performs with ultra-confidence, if not wild abandon. (There was one zone read play Friday where VY strolled around left end and there wasn't anyone within ten yards of him and nothing but 40 yards of wide open spaces between him and the goal line. Vince just stopped and pointed to the end zone as if stating the obvious, "That's a TD. End of play."

"Vince is continuing to improve throwing the ball and the receivers are better," Brown said. "The linebackers seem to be growing up."

It had to happen some time, but FL Jordan Shipley actually did not catch a ball thrown in his general vicinity. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it. Truth be told, Shipley was blanketed and the defense has to win some time, but it won't very often when Shipley is within arm's length of the football.

"Jordan Shipley continues to get better," Brown said, "and we hold our breath every day about his knee."

Brown also singled out third-team RDE Brian Orakpo and starting SLB Eric Foreman for their play Friday.

Texas will practice and scrimmage at Royal-Memorial Stadium, 2 p.m., Saturday. The session is open to the public and concludes a three-day clinic for Texas high school coaches. Approximately 1,000 coaches attended, Brown said, representing the largest number of attendees to have ever attended the event.

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