Texas Longhorns: Bryant Jackson

AUSTIN, Texas -- Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley aren’t practicing, and that just might be a good thing.

As strange as it sounds, Texas’ top two wide receivers spending the first week of fall camp sidelined ended up proving beneficial for the Longhorns offense. Their absence created opportunity for a receivers group full of unproven talent.

Davis had surgery for a hernia and Shipley underwent a procedure to address a hip injury. Neither ailment is serious, and both wideouts were in pads and catching passes by the end of the week.

[+] EnlargeKendall Sanders
AP Photo/Eric GaySophomore Kendall Sanders has gotten extended time with the first team with injuries to Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley.
Their absence is more precautionary than anything, and at some point in the next two weeks they’ll get back into team drills and 11-on-11 work.

But the point is this: Neither truly needed the practice reps. Their younger backups most definitely did.

“With Mike and Jaxon being limited early, that’s going to force the guys to be out there with David [Ash] and see how they can do with pressure on them,” Texas coach Mack Brown said before camp began.

How’d they fare? Sophomores Kendall Sanders and Marcus Johnson slid into the spots held down by Davis and Shipley last week. They combined for two receptions in 2012. One of them will likely have to start this fall.

That guy might not be Johnson, who suffered a sprained MCL in his right knee during practice Monday. There's no timetable for his return, but UT head athletic trainer Kenny Boyd is hoping Johnson will be back "before the end of camp or soon after."

That’s not necessarily a damning blow for the Texas receiving corps, but Johnson made a good impression during his week with the first-team offense.

“I think Marcus has been making huge strides from where he was in the spring,” Ash said. “I'm really excited just because with the nature of the offense and what we're doing now, he will have to be a big part of it. He’s got to make plays for us and understand that when some of our primary receivers are covered or doubled, he's going to be the guy that gets the ball.”

There’s no doubt Sanders is ready for a larger role after recording two catches for 15 yards in 11 games as a true freshman. The 6-foot, 187-pound wideout is as well-rounded a target as the Longhorns have when Davis and Shipley aren’t on the field and appears to be the favorite to become Texas’ No. 3 receiver.

But they weren’t the only beneficiaries at receiver last week. Take the top two guys out of the equation and everyone gets bumped up the totem poll, including the newcomers.

“It’s really helped us to be forced to look at the freshmen,” Brown said. “Jacorey Warrick has done some good things, and it’s been fun to watch him. All of those young ones have shown ability, but we probably wouldn’t have got them many snaps if Jaxon and Mike were out there.”

That Warrick is earning early praise is impressive considering his rapid recovery, as he missed most of his senior season at Houston Cypress Falls after suffering a torn meniscus in his right knee in October.

The former ESPN 150 recruit looks as speedy as ever and hasn’t lost a step since that injury. He and freshman Montrel Meander worked with the No. 2 offense last week while Jake Oliver and Chevoski Collins started off with the third-string receivers.

Those four fresh faces will continue to be evaluated in the next two weeks, and several could see the field on Aug. 31 against New Mexico State. But what would that mean for Bryant Jackson and John Harris?

Both are fourth-year players seeking to finally break through and establish their roles. Harris has experimented at tight end but spent the week as one of Case McCoy’s favorite targets as an outside receiver. Jackson moved over from defensive back and played in the slot with Daje Johnson and the No. 1 offense.

“The guys brag on Bryant Jackson a lot,” Brown said. “He’s an older guy who’s been around, a blocker and special teams guy that’s making some good plays for us.”

With those freshmen on the rise, it’s practically now or never for those juniors. They benefitted from Davis and Shipley sitting as much as anyone.

And yet, you could make a case no Longhorn is affected more than Ash. The starting quarterback didn’t mind one bit, as he enjoyed working on his rapport with a variety of receivers.

“There is a silver lining to it,” Ash said. “Obviously, we want Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley out there getting work, but there is a silver lining that we are going to develop some depth with these young wideouts. They’re going to get some experience now and there’s no doubt it’ll pay off, because you never know what’s going to happen in the season.”

If either of Ash’ top two targets go down at some point this fall, that will likely mean trouble. But a full week of preparing for that possibility can’t hurt.
AUSTIN, Texas – Texas has 19 starters returning, a two-deep no longer as shallow as the Pedernales River, a coach who has been pointing to this year during the tumult of the last two and a team that's been as high as No. 4 in some of the preseason rankings.

Four Downs: Texas collecting receivers 

June, 18, 2013
6/18/13
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Each week, I look at a few topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First down: Few O-linemen in 2014 class


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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. 21 Duke Thomas
Sophomore defensive back



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Every Friday, HornsNation's Sean Adams will answer questions from readers. Send him a question on Twitter here.

@Zachrab88 on Twitter: Who on offense [will] turn out to be All-Big 12?

A: Be patient with me because this could take a while and you might even roll your eyes a couple of times. Texas could load up the All-Big 12 team on offense. Texas could have All-Big 12 players at every position on the offense except for tight end, where the numbers won’t merit the selection.


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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. 16 Bryant Jackson
Junior wide receiver



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AUSTIN, Texas – Mack Brown isn’t quite sure what to do with Duke Thomas. Not just yet anyway.

"We will just have to look at it and probably play him both ways in the fall," the Texas coach said.


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Four downs: QB Swoopes is the future 

April, 3, 2013
4/03/13
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Each week Sean Adams looks at a few topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First down: Is Swoopes the future?

By reading between the lines about the repetitions in Saturday's Orange-White scrimmage, it appears that freshman quarterback Tyrone Swoopes will have a package to fit around his unique skill set and size this season. But could he already be Texas' No. 2 signal-caller?

[+] EnlargeTyrone Swoopes
AP Photo/Eric GayFreshman quarterback Tyrone Swoopes had fans talking after his performance in Texas' spring game.
If starter David Ash were to go down and miss time in the first game of the season, it's likely that Case McCoy would take over the role. But even that would likely only be until Swoopes' schooling could be accelerated to get him ready to play.

Swoopes is the future. I am still in the small group of people who believes a redshirt would be best for him, but that might not be an option when the Texas coaches look forward to 2014. Swoopes has already passed Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet, and it appears McCoy is just exhausting his eligibility as a backup.

That leaves Swoopes as the primary backup in 2014 and as the man his junior year for the Longhorns, assuming he doesn't redshirt this season. If the spring of 2013 is any indication, the future will be sooner rather than later for Swoopes.

Second down: DE Okafor taking some hits ...

Texas went through pro day last week and defensive end Alex Okafor has taken some hits. His strength, speed, explosiveness and even tactical awareness have been questioned.

I just don’t buy that. He is a football player. I have never been in the camp that he is going to be great, but I am in the camp that he can have a lengthy career in the NFL.

All things considered, that would be a really good career. It must be pretty hard for an All-American to get his career torn apart for a couple of months. I honestly hope he is not paying attention to the media at this point.

Third down: On the move ...

I will be the first to say it did not do a whole lot for me to hear that Duke Thomas might play both ways, but after watching him the spring game, I’m a believer. He caught the ball in traffic, ran fairly good routes and looked to have pretty solid ball skills.


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Four downs: Defense in the details 

March, 6, 2013
3/06/13
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Each week Sean Adams looks at a few topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First down: Winning is in the details ...


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Position breakdown: Receiver 

February, 13, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas -- When last Texas unfurled four wide receivers with a quarterback who proved to be slightly more than adequate (Colt McCoy), six players caught 30 or more passes.

Last season, with a quarterback not near the stature of McCoy but not a slouch either, only Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley had more than 30 receptions.

[+] EnlargeMike Davis
AP Photo/Charlie NeibergallMike Davis returns at Texas' top deep-threat and playmaker.
So to say changes in the new-yet-old spread offense are afoot or at hand for the Texas wide receivers is an understatement of well, Texas-sized proportions.

The first of those changes might be to find more wide receivers. While Texas does have its top two wide receivers, Davis and Shipley, back in the fold, it has lost Marquise Goodwin (26 catches) and has no other wide receiver who had more than 10 catches in 2012. Bryant Jackson has the most with eight. Next in line are Cayleb Jones and John Harris with two each.

So the priority now becomes finding bodies to throw on the field and to throw to. And, really beyond the aforementioned Davis, Shipley, Jackson and Jones (Harris is being switched to a hybrid tight end spot), there are not that many from which to choose.

There are at most three more legitimate candidates who complete Texas’ complement of wide receivers: Kendall Sanders, Marcus Johnson and Daje Johnson. In total, that is seven players. Remember in 2009, Texas had six true wide receivers each catch at least 30 or more balls. So the depth at the position is not optimal but, to retread the maddening catch-all that Mack Brown uses to gloss over actual explanations, it is what it is.

And with that, here it is:

Davis and Shipley: Each should push into at least the 60s in receptions as more one-on-one coverages are thrown their way with more receivers in pass patterns. This spring, play-caller Major Applewhite will need to experiment with how much to utilize Davis as a deep threat while also continuing to foster the chemistry between quarterback David Ash and Shipley.

Keeping Davis mentally engaged is another crucial component this spring. The rising senior briefly toyed with the idea of leaving for the NFL draft. And sometimes when that happens, a player who has a bad practice or two can be nagged with regrets that he didn’t leave. Davis has shown in the past that he mentally can be pulled away from the game. But, on the flip side of that, as a junior Davis showed that he had matured and was dedicated.

Shipley should emerge as a clear winner in the switch to spread. Given his abilities, that is a win for the entire Texas program.


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Horns Snapshot: WR Jacorey Warrick 

February, 3, 2013
2/03/13
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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: Wide receiver Jacorey Warrick, Houston/Cypress Falls | 5-foot-10, 168 pounds

[+] EnlargeJacorey Warrick
Max Olson/ESPN.comFour-star wideout Jacorey Warrick is coming off a knee injury but should be ready for summer workouts.
Committed: Feb. 26, 2012

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Horns Snapshot: WR Jake Oliver 

February, 2, 2013
2/02/13
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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: Wide receiver Jake Oliver, Dallas/Jesuit | 6-foot-4, 203 pounds

Jake Oliver
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comFour-star Texas commit Jake Oliver could make the Longhorns' rotation as a freshman.
Committed: Feb. 15, 2012

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Four downs: Resurrecting a rivalry 

January, 30, 2013
1/30/13
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1st Down: Lone Star battle

I am a citizen of the great state of Texas. I am a fan of college football. Those two things are enough to want the University of Texas and Texas A&M to play football against each other every year. It is the two biggest and best programs in the state, and Texas A&M has, seemingly, returned to its rightful place at the front of the line with Texas, both in the state and as a national program.

Ryan Guillen, a democrat from House District 31, filed a bill Monday that would require the Longhorns and Aggies to play every year.


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AUSTIN, Texas -- The offseason, especially around Texas these past few years, is typically fraught with worry, speculation and maybe even a smidge of hope.

Everyone wants to know what will happen come fall. No one, despite consultations with tea leaves, crystal balls, the ghost of Madam Hipple, the endless blogs at every corner of the Internet and preseason magazines, ever really does.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t signs or clues of what could happen. History is kind that way, leaving behind a trail that could help tell a future tale.


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Over the next two months, HornsNation, will analyze each of the scholarship players currently on the Texas roster. (The bulk of the 2012 class is not currently on the roster.) We will look at the player’s past contributions, what he might do for Texas this year and the future impact he could have on the program. Starting with No. 1 Mike Davis we will go through the roster numerically before ending with No. 99 Desmond Jackson.


No. 16 Bryant Jackson
Wide receiver, 6-2, 191, sophomore

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