SLOAN THOMAS RETURNS
Junior wide receiver Sloan Thomas returned to practice for the first time this season and wasted no time in dazzling the Monday night crowd with his speed and acrobatic receptions.
Texas coaches, however, said they would not have minded if the team leader in average yards-per-catch (16.9) during the past two seasons had nursed his ankle injury a few days longer.
"Sloan looked great tonight, but we told our trainers we didnt need him out there tonight," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "The season opener is still nearly three weeks away, and there was no need to push it."
Thomas apparently caved in to peer pressure.
"Hes been slow getting back and the other players were giving him a hard time," Brown said. "They said they were even going to name a whirlpool after him."
One play stands out from Monday night: Thomas over-the-shoulder snag of quarterback Chance Mocks toss against double-coverage in the back of the end zone and then tip-toeing to stay inside the playing field drew applause from admiring onlookers.
"Ive worked a lot more on focusing and a lot of that came in the spring," Thomas said.
Three highly touted members of Texas top ranked recruiting class showed fans Monday night why the group of entering freshmen are, according to some, the most talented collection of scholarship athletes of the past five years.
A preview of things to come: Quarterback Vince Youngs 45-yard completion to wide receiver Robert Timmons elicited the first ovation of the evening. The 6-5, 220-pound Young was named Parades National Player of the Year after totaling 7,624 yards as a three-year starter at Houston Madison. Timmons remained a crowd-pleaser with his twisting, opposite shoulder touchdown reception during goal line drills. Timmons was an all-district pick wide receiver pick while at Flower Mound Marcus.
However, it was the other Young who drew Browns praises. In fact, the head coach went so far as to compare first-team All-Greater Houston running back Selvin Young with pre-season All-American Cedric Benson.
"Young reminds me a lot of Cedric in that hes a shorter back (6-0) with outstanding quickness, speed, who sees and hits the holes well," Brown said. "Hes got good balance and good hands. He can catch as well. One of the things we wanted to do is see him more. Well see him more tomorrow (Tuesday)."
McCLINTOCK ADDED TO TIGHT END SHUFFLE
It seems Texas junior O.J. McClintock has played everywhere at the Forty Acres except the trombone section in the Longhorn Band.
Now, the defensive end who moved from outside linebacker in spring 2001 (having arrived at Texas as a wide receiver following a stellar senior season as quarterback at Round Rock Westwood High School) is helping fill the suddenly thin tight end spot following Bo Scaifes season-ending injury earlier this month.
The two-year letterman is part of the mix that includes junior Brock Edwards and senior Chad Stevens.
"In his heart, O.J. has always wanted to be an offensive star," quipped Defensive Co-ordinator Carl Reese.
McClintock returns from a medical redshirt year. Edwards has started six games at tight end during the past two seasons. Stevens was Texas starting tight end during the final three games of 2000, but was a backup fullback last season. Stevens has been held out of the last two practices as a result of a leg contusion.
With wide receiver Thomas return to practice, media attention shifted to when defensive end Kalen Thornton might return to the lineup. Brown was hesitant to speculate but added that he expected Thornton to return by the first part of next week.
Aaron Harris continues to be held out of practice as a precautionary measure after the freshman suffered a mild concussion in Saturdays scrimmage.
[Editor's note: To see the observations on the defensive members of the true freshman class by IT's Clendon Ross, click here.]