"Coach has said there's a very good chance of some of the young guys getting into the rotation," Earnest told Inside Texas. "Coach wants to have six in the rotation, so there are four spots open that people are fighting for, Coach told me to go out, compete and get your spot."
It is expected SLB Robert Killebrew, WLB Drew Kelson and MLB Rashad Bobino will work with the Ones at the start of August Camp. However, MLB Roddrick Muckelroy will push Bobino for playing time while all the buzz surrounding backup SLB Sergio Kindle is that the Five-Star stud is one of those freaks-of-nature who, so far, has lived up to the hype. (I ran into Killebrew a few weeks ago and he told me, "I know that Sergio can take my spot"). RS-sophomore WLB Jeremy Campbell is a head-knocker who put the exclamation point on a defensive-dominated Spring Game with his late interception. Junior Scott Derry is expected to be back in the mix after missing all 13 games last season due to a broken ankle. (He recorded 21 tackles as the top backup at MLB in 2004).
It is expected that those six lettermen will, with little or no variation, take up permanent residence on the 2006 two-deep chart. Earnest, along with fellow two-time all-state signee Jared Norton, expects to state a solid case for playing time as Chizik strives to go three-deep at all positions. (Pflugerville RB Antwan Cobb may also work at linebacker this season).
"Coach Chizik is very straight-forward and he'll tell you if you're ready to play or not," Earnest added. "If he says that you need to redshirt, then you shouldn't waste a season (by refusing the 'shirt). You're not going to sit on the bench with him telling you that you're going to play if you're not. I'd rather be told straight-up. I appreciate his honesty, for me, it all depends on how Two-A-Days go. Hopefully, it isn't 'We don't need you.'" Chizik will get a chance to see several of his signees in action prior to August Camp. Earnest is one of 10 Longhorn signees selected to play in the Texas High School Coaches Association All-Star Game at DKR-Memorial Stadium, 7:30 p.m., August 1. RB Vondrell McGee, RB/LB Antwan Cobb, MLB Jared Norton will join Earnest on the North All-Star Team while future teammates DB Robert Joseph, PK Hunter Lawrence, WR Montre Webber, DB/WR Kenneth Deon Beasley, DB Chykie Brown and TE Britt Mitchell will play for the South All-Stars. (Note: Five-Star DE Eddie Jones was not selected because the All-Star Game limits its choices to one player from each high school. Mitchell is a former teammate of his at Kilgore).
"That will be my first game at my stadium," Earnest added, "so I'm real excited."
Longhorn coaches seem to be just as excited about Earnest. The District 12-4A Defensive MVP tallied 140 tackles, 11 TFL, three fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, five sacks and scored three defensive TDs his senior season on the way to First-Team Texas 4A All-State honors by the Associated Press. He also participated in Scout.com's U.S. Army All-American Bowl last January. Earnest was also a three-year track-and-field participant, but admits his involvement these past few months was motivated primarily by his commitment to football conditioning. He ran hurdles, competed in the discus and also is a power lifter.
But the regimen pales in comparison to the programs outlined in the fitness manual that Strength and Conditioning Coach Jeff Madden sent signees earlier this year.
"Oh, gosh!, it's a big 'ol book!," Earnest said. "Mad Dog sent us all this stuff to do. There's a lot of running. It's been tough but I'm more in shape than I've ever been in my life."
The only setback in the schedule was when Earnest had his wisdom teeth removed on May 19. But he wanted to get the operation out of the way so it would not interfere with voluntary summer workouts which begin in little more than one week.
"The doctors told me I should rest a week or two, but I was like, 'No way!'", Earnest said, whose pre-operation stature stood at 6-3, 220-pounds.
He plans to room with TE Greg Smith, one of four Longhorn early enrollees.
"I've talked to him about (the transition to college) plenty of times since he's already there," Earnest said.
He has also sought counsel from his father. ("My dad has a Ph.D so he's been in college forever").
He expressed an interest in architecture and design when Inside Texas visited his campus last January, but now Earnest is leaning toward business or engineering. Academically, Earnest has a leg-up on the competition. The second-team academic all-state selection already has already logged 15 hours of college credits at Texas High in Texarkana. He plans on taking classes during both UT summer sessions.
"I want to be a sophomore by this fall," he said. "If they redshirt me, I may end up with a Masters before I'm a senior."