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Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Lessons learned: UT at Big 12 media days

By Max Olson

DALLAS -- The informal beginning of Texas’ 2013 season came Tuesday with the Longhorns’ appearance at Big 12 media days. Here are five Texas-related things we learned from Big 12 media days:

1. Ash a year older, wiser

We’ll have a lot more on this topic in a future story, but David Ash made quite an impression during his two hours of media time on Tuesday.

David Ash
Texas quarterback David Ash appear confident on Day 2 of Big 12 media days.
There’s no doubt Ash has grown much more comfortable with his role as QB No. 1 and as a spokesperson for the team. It’s easy to jump to conclusions that how Ash acted Tuesday is a sign of what’s to come this fall. While I don’t necessarily buy that, he’s definitely carrying himself like a veteran now.

Ash is proud of the fact Mack Brown and Major Applewhite put their full faith in him this spring. He’s excited about the up-tempo scheme and its possibilities. He knows he can bring a lot more to the table in 2013.

“I think I have the ability to do a lot of things,” Ash said. “I can throw any ball. What I’m going to get better at is taking what the defense gives me. Sometimes they give the quarterback the run. If they do, I have no doubt I can take advantage of that.”

That’s confidence. You didn’t see a ton of it in 2012 as Ash battled injury, Case McCoy and his own inconsistency. The seniors in attendance have faith in him. Now it’s time to find out what he’ll do with that trust.

2. Brown unfazed by No. 4 rankings

Brown didn’t squeeze in any serious potshots at the SEC Conference, but he did take time during his 20-minute press conference Tuesday to applaud the parity of the Big 12.

He chuckled when asked, with Phil Steele ranking the Longhorns No. 4 in the nation and conference media tabbing them No. 4 in the league, where his team truly did fit on that scale of expectations.

“I really like the first guy better,” Brown said, referring to Steele. “I don’t know about his merit, but I like it better. Who knows? You know, I do think that we have the most balanced league in the country right now, top to bottom.”

The days of two or three teams dominating the conference are long gone, he said, and anyone can beat anyone. He pointed to the most obvious example -- Texas at Kansas last fall -- as proof.

“When you look at us being voted fourth, I thought what we saw is the numbers are all really, really close, and people are confused on who they think may win this conference championship,” Brown said. “That's a compliment to our league.”

3. Jeffcoat ready to return

For Jackson Jeffcoat, senior season started the October day he found out he wouldn’t play again in 2012.

The preseason All-Big 12 defensive end is proud to say his second pectoral injury in two years is now in the rearview mirror. He has been fully cleared for the start of fall camp next month and is ready to start hitting again.

"I’m just excited to get out there with my teammates, and it’s really helped me grow,” Jeffcoat said. “Being out there and seeing things like a coach and talking with coach about things, it’s different. You see different things. I helped players out and I learned.”

Perhaps that’s the silver lining for Jeffcoat -- he’s glad he got a chance to help Cedric Reed prepare for the starting role and that his absence ended up letting Texas develop its depth on the line.

We heard good things about Shiro Davis, Bryce Cottrell and Caleb Bluiett this week, too, though they’re primarily pass rushers right now. Oscar Giles could have some serious options for rotations this fall.

4. Hopkins likes OL depth

Trey Hopkins insisted he and the four returning members of the Texas offensive line don’t feel threatened by the addition of the best incoming line class of Brown’s tenure.

In fact, the senior guard said he’s excited to see what the five linemen -- Darius James, Kent Perkins, Rami Hammad, Jake Raulerson and juco transfer Desmond Harrison -- can do to provide depth in 2013, especially when an up-tempo scheme likely will call for more substituting up front.

“There’s a lot of competition. That only makes everyone else rise,” Hopkins said. “They can come in, and I expect them to work hard. They’ve shown they’ll work hard. That’s going to be an energy booster for the rest of the team. Everyone knows now you can’t take a lazy step, or the guy behind you will be the guy in front of you pretty soon.”

5. Odds and ends

• Texas officials confirmed Tuesday that linebacker Jordan Hicks officially was approved for a medical redshirt for the 2012 season. Hicks is still considered a junior with two years of eligibility remaining.

• Harrison had his first workout with the team on Monday after enrolling last week. Hopkins called the 6-foot-8 tackle a “massive human being” and has been impressed by his demeanor.

• No update on the status of wide receiver Cayleb Jones and when he’ll resume working out with the team. Jones was suspended this spring and has not been with the program during the summer.

• One interesting note on newly hired football analyst Greg Robinson: He’ll continue to live in Los Angeles this fall and likely will visit Austin only for home-game weekends. Robinson, whose primary duty is to break down opponents’ film, had a similar role with the Seattle Seahawks last year.