- Max Olson, Big 12 reporter
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Before Texas begins its first season under Charlie Strong, we're taking a deep dive into all the talent he inherits in 2014. Our Burnt Orange Breakdown series will take a closer look at each scholarship player returning this fall and what we can expect from him. We're going down the roster from No. 1 Shiro Davis all the way to No. 99 Desmond Jackson.
No. 19 William Russ
Recruitment rewind: Russ initially committed to Arkansas over Miami, Vanderbilt and Louisiana Tech, but Texas entered the picture shortly thereafter for the Shreveport, La., standout and he flipped to the Longhorns in late January of 2010. ESPN's No. 13-ranked kicker prospect arrived in Austin with the ability to kick field goals, punts and kickoffs and was recruited to help fill the void left by Hunter Lawrence graduating.
Career so far: Russ redshirted in 2010 and then recorded a total of four kickoffs in two games during 2011 and 2012. He served as Texas' backup punter behind Anthony Fera last season and did not appear in a game.
Best-case scenario for 2014: Exiting spring ball, it appears Russ has proved himself to be the front-runner to take over the punting duties in 2014. He recorded three punts in the Orange-White spring game for an average distance of 43.3 yards with two inside the 20-yard line. Texas' last two punters -- Fera and Alex King -- were both transfers, but the staff did not bring in a newcomer this spring to take the job. Nobody is standing in Russ' way of starting.
Worst-case scenario for 2014: Texas has two more options at punter in senior Michael Davidson and redshirt freshman Mitchell Becker, and the competition will continue into fall camp. If Russ isn't getting the job done early on, the Longhorns coaches probably won't be afraid to make a change and give Becker or Davidson a shot.
Future expectations: Texas won't ask one kicker to handle both placekicking and punting duties. That's a tall task Fera and Justin Tucker could handle, but most guys can't. That should make life a little easier for Russ, who has a big leg and should be able to stay relatively fresh for the duration of the season. He just needs to hold onto his job and give the Longhorns a much-needed advantage in field position.
Before Texas begins its first season under Charlie Strong, we're taking a deep dive into all the talent he inherits in 2014. Our Burnt Orange Breakdown series will take a closer look at each scholarship player returning this fall and what we can expect from him.