To Youth

In the television series "Rome," Cleopatra seduces Julius Caesar in part by telling the dictator that a man without sons is a man without a future. For college football teams, a squad without talented freshmen is a team without a future.

So it's important to note that Texas's depth chart for Saturday's Rice game, the one where 18 of the 60 players carry freshman eligibility cards, is indicative of a bright future, if not a potentially rocky present.

Out of the Longhorns' 25 scholarship freshmen in the 2010 class, none have been misses thus far, according to Texas Coach Mack Brown. Many can be seen as hits, as 13 true freshmen made the initial depth chart for the 2010 season. At least two other players -- receiver Darius White and defensive tackle Taylor Bible -- could play Saturday, while Demarco Cobbs might have found playing time if not for his injured hamstring.

Brown said UT legend Darrell Royal used to say that playing freshmen was bad only if the freshmen were bad. But in the case of the 2010 Longhorns, the freshmen appear to be very, very good.

Receiver Mike Davis, whom senior receiver James Kirkendoll tapped as a playmaker Monday, leads the way. Davis is listed as a co-starter with John Chiles at the flanker, or Z position, the only true freshman listed in a starting role. Redshirt freshman Mason Walters is listed as the starter at right guard, while Calvin Howell is competing for the starting defensive tackle spot. That job, according to Brown, is still open this week.

Three of Davis's fellow five-star prospects -- defensive ends Jackson Jeffcoat and Reggie Wilson and linebacker Jordan Hicks -- also appear to have bright futures, as does offensive line phenom Trey Hopkins. Hopkins started as a tackle, but moved to guard, where coaches have been impressed by his intelligence, mobility and talent. Carrington Byndom, A.J. White and Adrian Phillips have garnered similar reviews in the defensive backfield.

All help to make up what Brown has coined one of his most college-ready freshman classes.

Even with all that talent, there's still cause for concern, especially on the lines. Out of the 11 players listed as backups on the offensive and defensive lines, three are sophomores and eight are freshmen. Of those eight freshmen, five are true freshmen. An injury here or there could result in trouble.

Still, because the talent level is high, expectations are high as ever.

Other depth chart notes:

* Cody Johnson will earn the start at tailback for the first game, beating out Fozzy Whittaker and Tre' Newton for the top spot at the position. Brown was quick to point out that Whittaker and Newton had each been strong this fall, but added that Johnson's toughness, quick feet and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield helped him move up the ladder.

All three players will see time on Saturday.

* Case McCoy won a narrow race over Connor Wood for the backup quarterback job. McCoy's presence in the huddle, as well as his strong scrimmage last week elevated him to the No. 2 spot. Brown said that ideally, Wood would spend the fall redshirting.

* Dravannti Johnson's rise up the depth chart continued, with Johnson tapped as the starter at SAM linebacker. Brown raved about Johnson's size and speed, while Keenan Robinson said Johnson's versatility and talents as a pass rusher were exceptional.

Robinson is the slated starter at WILL, while Emmanuel Acho is listed as the starter at MIKE. Acho is also the backup at both SAM and WILL, whiel Dustin Earnest is the second middle linebacker.

* Alex Okafor is listed as the backup defensive tackle to junior Tyrell Higgins. Coaches said that Okafor's length and quickness made him a natural interior pass rusher.


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