AUSTIN, Texas -- Head coach Mack Brown and the rest of the Longhorns coaching staff will continue to evaluate their freshmen class as they try to determine which players to redshirt as the season wears on.
Texas has played 14 freshmen through three games.
“That will probably continue to occur until the seventh week of the season,” Brown said. “You won’t travel with all of them but you still look at them.”
One position that Brown singled out was defensive end. It’s a position of strength with All-Americans Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat, and reliable backups Cedric Reed and Reggie Wilson. But it’s also a position that could get gassed against Big 12 offenses.
“For instance, you have Bryce Cottrell and Shiro Davis (two freshmen defensive ends),” Brown said. “We will start seeing teams start to throw it 50 to 70 times a game. Will you have enough pass rushers when you get down the road five or six more weeks?”
It’s a question the Longhorns will seek to answer to over the next several weeks as they begin to flirt with that blurry line of whether a freshmen can be effective and play now, or if he should be held back and used next season.
Here’s a look at every freshman that signed in 2012 as well as walk-on kicker Nick Rose, and what their status looks like moving forward:
RB Johnathan Gray: The nation’s No. 1 high school running back in 2012 has 21 rushes for 89 yards in three games. Coaches are still trying to figure out a way to get him in the mix earlier.
DT Malcom Brown: The nation’s No. 2 high school defensive tackle hasn’t factored into the defensive line rotation as much as some figured. He has played in all three games but only has one assisted tackle. That’s not a knock on Brown’s abilities. Coaches raved about him during fall camp. It’s more so a credit to the defensive tackles held over from last season as well as juco transfer Brandon Moore.
LB Peter Jinkens: The nation’s No. 5 high school outside linebacker has played on special teams and had minimal time in mop up duty. His role could increase in coming weeks if Jordan Hicks is unable to return from a hip injury.
OT Kennedy Estelle: One of the youngest recruits from 2012, Estelle is listed as the backup to Donald Hawkins at left tackle. He has played in spot minutes but coaches would like to get him more time.
LB Dalton Santos: The one-time Tennessee commitment has already become a fan favorite for his “crazy” ways on kickoff coverage. He has eight tackles and a quarterback hurry already.
WR Daje Johnson: He was suspended for the season opener for a violation of team rules, but he has proved why he was so talked-about during fall camp over the past two games by catching five passes for 81 yards (16.2 average) and a 45 yard touchdown.
WR Cayleb Jones: The Under Armour All-American hasn’t caught a pass yet but has seen action on offense in late game situations.
WR Kendall Sanders: The two-way high school standout has solidified himself as a viable receiver with a solid fall camp and two catches for 15 yards so far.
CB Duke Thomas: Early enrollee impressed during fall camp enough to factor into rotation. Has made three tackles so far.
CB Kevin Vaccaro: Has seen time on kickoff return.
K Nick Rose: The walk-on from Dallas Highland Park has been incredibly successful on kickoffs with eight touchbacks in 24 attempts.
Have not played:
DE Shiro Davis: The former LSU commitment has not played yet but could in the coming weeks. Texas would like to keep its defensive ends fresh while going up against the pass-happy Big 12, so Davis could find his way on the field.
OG Curtis Riser: The No. 6 high school offensive guard has not played and is not listed on the depth chart. The Longhorns feel better about their depth across the offensive line so he could redshirt.
CB Bryson Echols: Echols was one of the most sought-after cornerbacks in the country out of DeSoto (Texas), but there just isn’t much room for him to play in this secondary. He’s probably headed for a redshirt unless Texas thinks it needs his help stopping the Big 12’s elite.
DT Alex Norman: The Under Armour All-American is likely headed for a redshirt due to the depth Texas has in the middle of the defensive line.
QB Connor Brewer: The Under Armour All-American is listed as the third-string quarterback, but coaches have said they’d prefer to redshirt him.
DT Paul Boyette: Likely headed for a redshirt with the talent and depth already in place.
DE Hassan Ridgeway: Has yet to play but could get playing time as the Longhorns continue to evaluate whether or not to add more defensive ends to the rotation heading into conference play.
LB Timothy Cole: Is likely going to redshirt even though the Longhorns are still searching for better play from their young linebackers.
TE Caleb Bluiett: Will probably redshirt as he transitions from defensive end to tight end.
OT Camrhon Hughes: Will redshirt after tearing the ACL in his right knee playing in a pick-up basketball game.
QB Jalen Overstreet: Will likely redshirt as Texas tries to groom him in more of a passing offense than he was accustomed to in high school.
DE Bryce Cottrell: The one-time Oregon commitment could see time in conference play as Texas tries to determine if it needs further depth to combat the Big 12’s passing teams.