Texas Longhorns: Adrian Colbert

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. 26 Adrian Colbert
Sophomore safety


Recruitment rewind: A true under-the-radar revelation out of Mineral Wells (Texas) High School, Colbert's recruitment didn't really begin until October of his senior season. That's when he gave Baylor a soft verbal commitment, and then TCU, Texas, Texas Tech and Texas A&M all quickly jumped in the mix. Two months later, the three-star recruit gave a firm commitment to the Longhorns. He scored touchdowns rushing, receiving and on kick and punt returns in his breakthrough high school senior season.

Career so far: Colbert redshirted in 2012 and played in all 13 games last season, recording six tackles on special teams. He was also credited with a 23-yard kick return on a reverse against Oklahoma. He was in the mix with the second-team safeties in this year's spring game and recorded four tackles.

Best-case scenario for 2014: What if the new coaching staff sees a guy they can mold into the likeness of Calvin Pryor? Not trying to attach unfair comparisons to such an unproven player, but Colbert and Pryor are similar in size and style, as both are listed at 6-foot-2 and around 205 pounds with an undying love for hard hits (Pryor actually came in at 5-foot-11 at the combine). That's not to say a starting spot is easily within Colbert's grasp this season, but if he can inspire the same excitement that Pryor did, he's going to have opportunities in the secondary.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: A special teams player whose undying love for hard hits is squandered by being relegated to a minor role. We don't yet know how good Colbert can be, but we do generally know what Texas has in veterans Mykkele Thompson and Josh Turner. If those two earn the trust of Vance Bedford and Chris Vaughn, Colbert is looking at a reserve role at best.

Future expectations: The good news for Colbert is that Thompson and Turner are both seniors, and it's hard to envision any of their backups having an early inside track to a starting job in 2015. But with two promising freshmen in John Bonney and Jason Hall now on campus and a few more young DBs entering Year 2, Colbert isn't going to be guaranteed a thing next season. He needs to make a statement this fall.
Editor's note: This is the third part of a weeklong series breaking down Texas’ most important spring position battles when the Longhorns begin practice in two weeks.

Moving on: Safety Adrian Phillips brought experience and leadership to the Texas secondary, a senior who played in 50 games and started 28. An honorable mention All-Big 12 selection in 2013, Phillips dealt with a shoulder injury throughout his final two seasons. He could be inconsistent at times but still managed to start 23 games during that period.

The contenders: Lots of questions here, starting with a curious one: Who’s coaching the safeties? Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford and defensive backs coach Chris Vaughn are both assigned to the secondary. We’ll see which one takes charge of running this group, or if it’s a shared duty.

Either way, it’s a clean slate for a group of safeties that could probably use one. If not for the great Kenny Vaccaro, it’d be easy to point to this unit as a disappointing one in recent seasons. Former secondary coach Duane Akina coached up some greats at these spots -- Vaccaro, Earl Thomas, Michael Huff, etc. -- but who among these returning safeties is capable of upholding the “DB U” tradition?

Mykkele Thompson and Josh Turner enter their senior seasons with starting experience but haven’t lived up to their potential yet. Adrian Colbert is an intriguing option and entering his third year in the program.

Also in the mix are Erik Huhn and Kevin Vaccaro, who both missed the 2013 season with injuries, and incoming freshmen John Bonney and Jason Hall arrive in the summer.

Moving forward: Thompson has the most experience of the group, with 18 starts in 38 career games, but remains a work in progress when it comes to being a physical hitter. He had a knack for blocking kicks as a sophomore but wasn’t much of a playmaker as a junior, recording 72 tackles and one interception (the first of his career). He has to get better.

Another veteran with a chance to impress the new staff is Turner. He’s been used as a utility defensive back so far in his career, with five career starts and two INTs in 2012, but couldn’t beat out Phillips or Thompson last year. The former ESPN 150 recruit has one year left to play up to his potential.

Behind them is a group of inexperienced DBs who will compete for snaps, led by Colbert. He recorded six tackles as a redshirt freshman, all on special teams, and can be the hard-hitting athlete Texas needs patrolling the secondary if he makes big progress this offseason.

Of the four other underclassmen, Bonney could have the best chance of contributing early. He’s a polished, confident defender with big upside, and a lot of Big 12 schools coveted his talents.

Prediction: Bedford and Vaughn work closely with Thompson to raise his confidence, and they move Turner around to try several roles in their secondary. Colbert becomes a rising star at a free safety, starting in spring ball, and wins one of the jobs. The redshirt sophomore is worth keeping a very close eye on in the next few months.

Texas position groups to improve: No. 3

February, 12, 2014
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Texas is getting off to a later-than-usual start to its spring practices this year, with Charlie Strong set to lead the Longhorns onto the practice field for the first time on March 18.

[+] EnlargeMack Brown
Tom Pennington/Getty ImagesWith plenty of playing time available at safety, players such as Josh Turner (left) have chance to make a statement.
Until then, we’re counting down everything you need to know entering next season and the next era of Texas football. This week, we’re breaking down the five position groups with the most room to improve in 2014. We’ve already broken down No. 5 (tight ends) and No. 4 (defensive tackles). Here’s No. 3 on the list.

3. Safeties

The players: Mykkele Thompson, Josh Turner, Leroy Scott, Adrian Colbert, Erik Huhn, Kevin Vaccaro, John Bonney, Jason Hall

Last year: Adrian Phillips was the leader of the bunch, a senior captain who finished second on the team in tackles. Thompson, a junior, recorded 72 tackles and an interception in 12 starts. Turner started three games. Scott racked up three fumble recoveries and 2.5 TFLs in a limited role. Colbert mostly stuck to special teams, while Huhn and Vaccaro both sat out the season with injuries.

What’s missing: If there’s a position group that’s in for a reshuffling under the new staff, you have to think it’ll be the safeties. New secondary coaches Vance Bedford and Chris Vaughn will assess what they’re working with, and you could see spring practices become a trial period for all of these DBs until the right fit is found.

Thompson has 18 starts under his belt but still hasn’t become a physical hitter. Is he better off in another role? Turner and Scott can play multiple positions, and it’s time to see if Scott can develop into a starter this year after he showed flashes as a junior. This could be Colbert’s year, too.

And don’t forget Quandre Diggs. It’s not unfathomable to think he could dedicate more time to safety this spring if the new coaches are intrigued by that option.

Moving forward: It’s pretty simple: This is a critical offseason for all of these safeties. The slate has been wiped clean and the demands will be different.

Texas’ two secondary coaches can plug and play around during spring ball, and it’ll be fascinating to see who steps forward during the rigorous lifting program and improves his chances. It’s easy to envision a number of different combinations with this unit, and each player has something to prove over the next few months.

Rewind: Texas Longhorns fall camp

August, 12, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas -- After getting to watch six consecutive days of Texas practice, it’s safe to say we’ve taken plenty of notes. Here’s a look back at the superlatives of Texas’ first week of fall camp.

Best offensive performance: QB David Ash. He throws as pretty a ball as any Texas quarterback in the past, oh, 10 years, and on most days the incompletions were few and far between. Ash was sharp and made it all look easy. Nobody is questioning who the team’s top QB is this year.

Best defensive performance: CB Carrington Byndom. Granted, he wasn’t covering Texas’ top two wideouts, but Byndom provided lockdown coverage pretty much all week long. He played like a senior, with considerably more confidence.

David Ash
Max Olson/ESPNDavid Ash has shown his touch during passing drills but still needs to help Texas' offense pick up the pace.
Breakout player: WR Kendall Sanders. Several guys could earn this honor but Sanders thrived this week as the Longhorns’ top wideout with Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley sidelined with injuries. He could be in for a big sophomore season after catching two passes in 2012.

Best newcomer: OT Kent Perkins. Perkins jumped right into the second-team right tackle spot early in the week and probably would’ve stayed there had a sore shoulder not kept him out a few practices. He impressed his fellow linemen this summer and could have a solid role in 2013. Honorable mention goes to speedy receiver Jacorey Warrick and cornerback Antwuan Davis.

On the rise: CB Sheroid Evans. Quandre Diggs sitting out practice this week meant lots more work for Duke Thomas and Sheroid Evans, and both made a good impression. Evans, a 6-foot, 192-pound junior, snagged several interceptions during the week in 1-on-1 drills and could carve out a key role in Texas’ nickel defense.

Most improved: LB Steve Edmond. The middle linebacker is rebounding from his difficult 2012 season by shedding weight (from 260 pounds to 235), and the results have been positive. Edmond has made plays up the middle in 11-on-11 work and appears to have the edge over Dalton Santos for the starting job.

Fastest player: WR/RB Daje Johnson. We must tip our hats to Evans, a track athlete who probably is truly faster, but Johnson was practically a blur when running routes over the middle this week. His transition from running back to receiver has been a successful one thus far.

Biggest hit: S Adrian Colbert. The redshirt freshman popped tight end Greg Daniels hard Saturday night after he caught a ball over the middle, prompting the entire Texas secondary to run onto the practice field in celebration. The downside: Colbert probably would’ve been popped for a targeting penalty had it happened in a game this year.

Best position change: RB Jalen Overstreet. He’s still getting some work as the No. 3 quarterback, but Overstreet turned heads this week as a running back. He had little trouble adjusting to taking handoffs and showed he could be an explosive weapon as essentially an “athlete” for Texas this season.

Best position group: Running backs. Tough decision here. The RBs get credit here due to Overstreet’s rise and the new and improved Joe Bergeron. The junior back dropped from 240 pounds to 230 this offseason and looks quicker than ever but just as powerful.

Best depth: Offensive line. Thanks to Texas’ decision to practice with three separate offenses, we know the Longhorns have as many as 15 scholarship offensive linemen who could make the two-deep. Perkins and Rami Hammad worked with the No. 2 offense Saturday, and there’s the potential for more reshuffling in the next few weeks.

Top position battle: Wide receiver. The absence of Davis and Shipley meant lots of opportunity for everyone else. First-team reps went to Sanders, Marcus Johnson, Daje Johnson and Bryant Jackson, but Warrick, John Harris, Montrel Meander and Jake Oliver are all in the mix for playing time.

Biggest disappointment: Desmond Harrison’s absence. Texas’ junior college transfer hasn’t practiced since Monday due to an academic issue. Mack Brown has declined to disclose the specifics, but Texas officials believe it will be resolved soon. Still, it’s becoming a troubling development considering Harrison has a chance to be the team’s starting left tackle this fall.

Boldest quote: “Of course you’re mad about last year. You don’t want to be known as a soft defense. We’re taking the right steps to be a dominant defense. We want to be the most dominant defense in the world.” -- Safety Adrian Phillips

Biggest question: Tempo. Ash said Texas' offense will speed things up in the next few weeks after keeping the time between snaps to between 12-15 seconds this week. Just how fast will the final product look, and how well will Texas be executing it by Aug. 31?

Still wondering: We didn’t get much of a look at the Longhorn special teams this week, and it’s safe to say there are still unanswered questions with that unit. Could be some intriguing battles at placekicker and punter over the next few weeks with several participants: Nick Jordan, Anthony Fera, Nick Rose and William Russ.

Injury update: Exclude those who were already planning to be limited entering camp and you have to say Texas fared well. Byndom (head) and Josh Cochran (shoulder) were held out Saturday for precautionary reasons. All in all, there were no major injuries in week one. That’s a significant plus.
During the summer, HornsNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Texas roster -- excluding the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class -- in our Burnt Orange Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1 Mike Davis, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 26 Adrian Colbert
Freshman safety


AUSTIN, Texas – David Ash wasn’t up to speed.

For that matter, neither was the rest of the Texas offense. It being the end of March instead of August neither had to be. Sure there were flashes of what this new Texas offense holds, times when the ball was snapped between the optimal 15-20 second mark and moved down the field with the precision befitting the Big 12’s need for speed.


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Position breakdown: Defensive back 

February, 21, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Duane Akina will spend most of the spring mix and matching.

Given time, the Texas secondary coach likes to take his time before typecasting a certain player in a certain role. Ideally, Akina prefers to have every defensive back ready and able to play every role.

That versatility can not only cover up some deficiencies but also make the back four a stronger and more cohesive unit because every player understands the role to the player next to him seeing as how he has spent at least some time in that role.


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Five Texas redshirt freshmen to watch 

February, 21, 2013
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No member of Texas’ 28-man recruiting class in 2012 expected anything less than early playing time when he joined the program, especially after the Longhorns had seemingly thrown every freshman they had on the field the previous season.

You already know plenty about Johnathan Gray, Malcom Brown, Daje Johnson and Texas' other high-impact freshmen. But what about the ones who sat out last season?

For 12 of those 28 signees, getting onto the field in year one just wasn’t in the cards. After spending the fall on the practice field, in the weight room and home in their dorms for road games, those dozen recruits are ready to start making a name for themselves.

It all starts with a breakthrough spring. Last year, tight end M.J. McFarland was really the only redshirt freshman who saw meaningful playing time for the Longhorns. What does 2013 have in store for this year’s crop of second-year freshmen?


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To gear up for 2013 national signing day, HornsNation’s William Wilkerson is breaking down every commitment in the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class.

Vitals: Athlete Chevoski Collins, Livingston, Texas/Livingston | 6-foot, 190 pounds

Chevoski Collins
Max Olson/ESPN.comESPN 300 athlete Chevoski Collins could play either receiver or defensive back at Texas.
Committed: Oct. 8, 2012

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Horns Snapshot: S Erik Huhn 

January, 31, 2013
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To gear up for 2013 national signing day, HornsNation’s William Wilkerson is breaking down every commitment in the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class.

Vitals: Safety Erik Huhn, Cibolo, Texas/Steele | 6-foot-2, 205 pounds

Committed: June 3, 2012

ESPN.com grade: 80. Four-star recruit

ESPN.com rankings: No. 16 safety, No. 64 player in Midlands region, No. 56 player in Texas.


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Roundtable: Must-get 2014 recruits 

January, 4, 2013
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Every Friday, HornsNation recruiting writers William Wilkerson and Max Olson will answer a question about the Longhorns.

Jamal Adams
Damon Sayles/ESPNLewisville, Texas, safety Jamal Adams is a huge recruit for Texas in the 2014 class.
This week's question: Which 2014 recruit is a must-get for the Longhorns?

William Wilkerson: Lewisville (Texas) Hebron S Jamal Adams

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Every Friday, HornsNation recruiting writers William Wilkerson and Max Olson will answer a question about the Longhorns.

This week's question: What does Texas do at safety now that it missed on Marcell Harris?

Shaquille Fluker
Greg Ostendorf/ESPN.comGeorge safety commit Shaquille Fluker is taking an official visit to Texas next month.
Max Olson: Marcell Harris would’ve been one of the dream gets for this Texas recruiting class. Now it’s time to start thinking realistically.

No doubt about it, Texas did the best it could to try to win over the Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips standout. Getting an elite prospect from Florida to take three campus visits -- two of them out of his own pocket -- to Austin is about as good a shot as Texas could’ve asked for.

But now that Harris is a Gator, the fact remains UT is in need of a difference-maker at the safety position.

If you thought the loss of Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson made Texas’ linebackers look bad to start off this season, imagine the struggles the Longhorns’ returning safeties could face in 2013.

There’s just no replacing Kenny Vaccaro and all the things he brings to this defense. The physical, versatile Harris certainly could’ve helped.

On a 2013 defense that brings back veteran experience at nearly every position, the safety position appears to be the only question mark. Adrian Phillips, Mykkele Thompson and Josh Turner have all earned significant playing time but endured more than their fair share of ups and downs.

Behind them, Sheroid Evans, Adrian Colbert and Kevin Vaccaro haven’t proven much. Hard to know if they’re the answer.

You also don’t know what commit Erik Huhn can provide after recovering from a torn ACL, or where Chevoski Collins will start off his career. Another answer is undoubtedly needed.

Color me intrigued by the possibility of Georgia commit Shaquille Fluker, a junior college prospect who recently picked up a UT offer. I wouldn’t be surprised if more juco prospects get targeted in the next few months. A quick fix might be the best solution.

Best case, a junior college transfer comes in and takes over the job. And if he can’t earn a spot in the starting 11, at the very least he can push someone else to make the leap and earn that role. Going the juco route is, to me, the best way to solve the Vaccaro void.

William Wilkerson: Print out a list of the names of Georgia’s 2013 commitments and highlight each of the four other safeties the Dawgs have coming in.

And put a star next to fellow juco safety commitment Kennar Johnson (Clermont, Fla./Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College), who should be ready to play right away.


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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.”

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Editor's note: RecruitingNation is taking a look at the state of each team's brand.

Somewhere around the loss to Iowa State in 2010, or maybe it was the second loss in a row to Kansas State or the second in a row to Baylor in 2011 -- Joe Jamail, the attorney who usually asked the questions, was on the defensive again.

What of Mack Brown now? What of 5-7? What of 13-12 over two years? What has happened? Why hasn’t Brown been fired?

“Fire him?” Jamail, a donor of such largess that Texas’ field bears his name. “We ought to give him a raise. If he worked like I do he would get a third.”

That’s one third of $150 million. A year.

That is what the Texas brand has become during his Brown’s 14 years on the sideline. The Longhorns, never fledgling mind you, have become the wealthiest program in college sports. All the while entertaining a myriad of suitors before ultimately flexing their muscle and pulling a conference together, launching a $300 million network with ESPN and, don’t forget, wondering if they might ever get another quarterback.

Texas sold more merchandise than any other college program in the national championship year of 2005.

Texas also sold more merchandise than any other college program in 2010. That year the Longhorns went 5-7, their first losing record since 1997, or the year before Brown arrived.

Merchandise sales were $10.6 million in 2011. That number is more than the football budget of Texas’ first two opponents in 2012, Wyoming ($5.2 million) and New Mexico ($6.6 million). But it is lint in the pocket of a university whose football program alone generated $95.7 million in revenue in the last fiscal year.

So while maybe those around the Lone Star State do not wear their hearts on their sleeves as they do in the SEC’s Deep South, the Texas brand is still printed across many chests from Beaumont to El Paso and beyond.

To that end, Texas continues to brand more athletes than any other institution within the state. As former Baylor coach Grant Teaff said in an interview with HornsNation last year, “Texas has always been Texas. It has always been the thing. It represents the state. Unless your parents went to another school like Texas Tech or Baylor, if you were born in Texas, you were going to Texas.”

The recruiting rankings serve to validate his words. Texas has finished in the top five of ESPN’s rankings the last four years and currently sit at No. 7 for a 2013 class that will not be signed for another six months.

It’s the brand that has drawn them. From freshman Daje Johnson – “I have wanted to go to Texas since eighth grade …” -- to freshman Adrian Colbert – “Why wouldn't you want to play football at the University of Texas? It's the greatest school in the country” -- players have been lured by the brand and program that is Texas.

Now, after the two worst years since Brown’s arrival, those players, the coach and the program believe the results on the field can match the marketing and the brand name that thrives because of it.

“All we want to do is rise to the occasion,” junior offensive lineman Mason Walters said. “We are not lowering the standard at the University of Texas, we’re going to go meet it.”











AUSTIN, Texas -- Three-star safety Adrian Colbert (Mineral Wells, Texas/Mineral Wells) has sent in his letter of intent to Texas.

Colbert (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) is the No. 20 safety in the nation and the No. 63 player in Texas, according to ESPNU.

Colbert, who will also run track at Texas, has been committed to Texas since Dec. 11, 2011. A one-time Baylor commitment, he chose the Longhorns over offers from the Bears, Texas A&M and TCU.

Adrian Colbert
Courtesy Dr. Ronny CollinsPlaying on both sides of the ball, Adrian Colbert has proven to be a playmaker with the ball in his hands.
Colbert, who will be the first person in his family to go to college, is the only pure safety prospect in this class. But he is one of four defensive back commitments along with Under Armour All-American cornerback Bryson Echols (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto), cornerback Kevin Vaccaro (Brownwood, Texas/Brownwood) and athlete Orlando Thomas (Copperas Cove, Texas/Copperas Cove), who will likely start his career as a cornerback.

Scouts take: “Colbert excels in all three phases of the game and given his measurables and very good range, most likely will develop into a hybrid type safety prospect. Is an aggressive run stopper as a safety in high school with some cover ability. Overall, Colbert is currently falling under the radar and has a lot of ability to develop into a college safety. A good athlete with the ability to see early playing time at the major college level.”

Importance to class: The Longhorns need help at safety as much or more than any other position on the field with the loss of seniors Blake Gideon and Christian Scott. Colbert is the only true safety in this class and will add instant and much needed depth.

How soon can he make an impact? Texas’ top three candidates at safety are sophomores Mykkele Thompson and Sheroid Evans and junior Adrian Phillips. They all played there in spurts last season, but probably not enough to make Texas coaches feel confident that any single one of them is the front-runner heading into next season. Colbert won’t get to Austin until the fall, so he’ll face an uphill battle from the jump. But depth is such an issue he could work his way into the rotation. He’s a dedicated worker who could be coming off the momentum of another state track title at that time.

Colbert on signing with Texas: “It feels great to officially become a Texas Longhorn because now no one else can get in contact with me or bother me. I just want to better myself as a player and get bigger, faster and stronger. Maybe I can get a chance at that Thorpe Award. I am ready to take on any challenge that college gives me, including playing football and running track.”

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