Texas Longhorns: Bryce Cottrell

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 takes 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. 91 Bryce Cottrell
Sophomore defensive end


Recruitment rewind: A rare two-star recruit for Texas, Cottrell initially chose Oregon over Arkansas during his senior season. The linebacker/end from Plano (Texas) West didn't get an offer from Texas until late January, just weeks before signing day, but that offer was enough to sway Cottrell to make an official visit and, soon after, a commitment. Mack Brown admitted on signing day that Jackson Jeffcoat (a fellow Plano West alum) played a role in helping the Horns find Cottrell late.

Career so far: Cottrell redshirted in 2012 as a freshman and is now 6-foot-3 and 241 pounds after gaining a good 10 pounds. In his first season on the field, Cottrell appeared in 11 games though primarily on special teams. He saw action with the defense in blowout wins over TCU and Texas Tech and finished the season with five stops, a tackle for loss and a pass breakup.

Best-case scenario for 2014: If Texas had released a post-spring depth chart, you probably would've seen Cottrell listed as Shiro Davis' backup at defensive end. If the third-year defender can keep improving he'll have an opportunity to spell the first-time starter and play a significant number of snaps off the bench. That could even lead to a few starts if Cottrell makes the most of the playing time he does receive.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: Caleb Bluiett does seem like he'll be the first end off the bench this season, at least based on his performance in spring ball, and it's entirely possible explosive freshman Derick Roberson will slide into a role as a pass-rushing specialist. Still, there's not really enough depth on paper to suggest Cottrell won't play a good amount in 2014 assuming he's ready.

Future expectations: Chris Rumph did not inherit the deepest position group on the team by any means. Once Cedric Reed graduates, you're looking at a defensive end unit that has Davis, Bluiett, Cottrell, Roberson, Jake McMillon (a potential DT) and committed DE Charles Omenihu. Unless Rumph lands some juco help in this class, the third-year trio of Davis, Cottrell and Bluiett will have to be ready to start and shine. Texas has had an impressive run of NFL defensive ends lately, and it's going to be up to that trio to keep it going.
Editor's note: This week we're taking a closer look at five key takeaways from Texas' spring practices, which wrapped up earlier this month, as well as what they mean for the summer and beyond.

AUSTIN, Texas -- The new defensive line coach has a saying. Well, he has a lot of sayings. But he’s particularly proud of this one: In his eyes, there are two types of players.

The CEPs and the PSPs.

[+] EnlargeCedric Reed
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesCedric Reed is the pass-rushing headliner of Texas' loaded defensive line.
Chris Rumph wants to surround himself with CEPs: Contract extension players. Rumph loves those kind of guys. They make him look good. You do not, however, want to be a PSP.

“Some other guys that you won’t see out there on Saturdays, they are PSPs: Pink slip players,” Rumph said this spring. “So I want me some CEPs.”

The former Alabama assistant has inherited four dudes who get the job done on the Longhorns defensive line, a group that can set up every other starting defender for success when playing at its disruptive best.

Cedric Reed, the 6-foot-6 senior defensive end who earned All-Big 12 honors last fall as the tag-team partner of Jackson Jeffcoat is a known commodity. Only Buffalo’s Khalil Mack, a potential top-10 NFL draft pick, matched Reed last year in the production of sacks (10), forced fumbles (five) and pass breakups (four).

Reed has CEP written all over him. So does Malcom Brown, the monstrous defensive tackle who enters his junior season with 13 career starts and All-America potential.

Coaches say Brown is as good as he wants to be. He’s become more vocal, unafraid now to point out his peers’ mistakes during film sessions and offer advice. When he talks, they listen.

“They know I’m going to do what I have to do,” Brown said. “I’ve got it down. I know what I’m doing and I’ll tell them when I’m doing something wrong before they even have to tell me.”

Desmond Jackson knows what he’s doing, too. The senior nose tackle who goes by "Tank" has 38 games under his belt and knows exactly what he can bring to this line. When he and Brown clog the middle and break through to the backfield, this defense gets dangerous.

Coming off the other edge is Shiro Davis, who’s beginning to play up to the hype he earned when he flipped from LSU to Texas in the final hour of his recruitment. Now a junior, Davis did more than enough this spring to lock down a starting job.

Altogether, it’s a line that has all the size, strength and speed a first-year coach like Rumph could demand. And nothing pleases Jackson, the veteran of the group, more than to see guys like Brown and Davis on the rise.

[+] EnlargeDerick Roberson
Miller Safrit/ESPNIncoming freshman Derick Roberson could be hard to keep off the field.
“They’re like my brothers to me. Anytime they make a good play, I’m the first one over there hyped up,” Jackson said. “We’re all brothers. That’s like family right there. I’d do anything for them. To see them make huge jumps makes me feel good.”

But the Longhorns will need more than that, and the depth behind them remains an area of uncertainty. Caleb Bluiett will play plenty, and so could fellow third-year end Bryce Cottrell. Hassan Ridgeway is practically a lock to be the third tackle, but still has a way to go. Alex Norman and more backups must emerge, and true freshmen Poona Ford and Derick Roberson could contribute immediately.

No matter who makes the two-deep, the addition of Rumph has brought this group even closer together. In recent years, Oscar Giles oversaw the ends and Bo Davis coached tackles. Nothing wrong with that, but Texas’ defensive linemen are already picking up on the benefits of having one man run the show.

“It’s real different,” Brown said. “I’ve done drills this year that I’ve never done before, that the defensive ends do. We’re all on the same page. We’re all being taught the same thing and doing the same drills. It’s nice, and it has its perks.”

In between telling his guys they’re playing like sasquatches and billy goats, and taunting the quarterback, and threating to send underperformers home with mayonnaise sandwiches, the high-energy Rumph has made clear his expectations.

Close enough doesn’t fly with Rumph or head coach Charlie Strong, not when they’ve been preaching all spring that they intend to win games up front.

“It always starts up front. That’s what they always emphasize,” Brown said. “If we come out the first play and hit somebody in the mouth, they already know we’re there for the whole game and we’re gonna fight for the whole game.”

That's what a CEP sounds like, and Texas could have a bunch of them.
Editor's note: This is the second part of a week-long series breaking down Texas’ most important spring position battles when the Longhorns begin practice in two weeks.

Moving on: Jackson Jeffcoat, Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and All-America defensive end. Good luck finding another one of those, Texas! (Ah, wait, Cedric Reed is very good, too.) Jeffcoat overcame injuries and played up to his five-star potential in his final season as a senior. He was versatile enough to play on several spots on the Horns’ defensive line under Greg Robinson, and Jeffcoat’s production will be difficult to replicate. Texas also loses top backup Reggie Wilson, a fellow senior.

[+] EnlargeDerick Roberson
Miller Safrit/ESPN Derick Roberson, Texas' top-rated signee, should make an impact on the defensive line in his freshman season.
The contenders: We know Reed is the real deal. But who’s ready to earn a starting job and line up on the other side of the senior-to-be?

The top contenders are Shiro Davis, Caleb Bluiett and Bryce Cottrell. Each one is entering his third year in the program and contributed to some extent last season.

There’s also Derick Roberson, a true freshman from San Antonio who was an Under Armour All-American and Texas’ top-rated signee at No. 78 in the ESPN 300. Texas could also consider signee Jake McMillon an end, though the previous staff that recruited him projected the Abilene (Texas) lineman as a defensive tackle.

Moving forward: The most touted of the veteran trio is Davis, a Shreveport, La., native who flipped from LSU to Texas on signing day two years ago. He played as a true freshman and sophomore, primarily in mop-up time and as a rotational backup. He has shown he can rush the passer.

Bluiett is an interested case study in being too versatile. He’s a terrific athlete -- you should’ve seen him on a baseball diamond in high school -- who has floated around between defensive end and tight end during his two seasons with the program. He earned a start against Oregon in the Valero Alamo Bowl at defensive end and one of his two career tackles was an 11-yard sack.

Cottrell, another late find in the 2012 class, played in 11 games this past season and had one sack and a pass breakup. Even if two of these three do not start, they’re poised to see the field plenty in 2014.

And then there’s the much-hyped Roberson, who could stand to spend a year in the weight room with Pat Moorer putting good weight onto his long frame. But chances are he’s too talented to keep on the sidelines this fall. He’s more like Davis than the other two -- a speed rusher who can at least help on third downs early in his career.

Predictions: Davis does just enough in the spring to hold onto his front-runner status, and Bluiett emerges as the most likely to challenge the junior for the gig. Expect Davis to win out in the end if he brings his best. Roberson arrives in the summer and turns heads from the beginning, prompting Chris Rumph to work him into the rotation as a freshman. Rumph wasn’t afraid to play freshmen at Alabama last season, and he’ll put Roberson to work in a limited role.
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. 88 Cedric Reed
Junior defensive end


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.

[+] EnlargeDavid Ash
AP Photo/Tim SharpTexas 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.
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. 52 Bryce Cottrell
Freshman defensive end



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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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Position breakdown: Defensive end 

February, 18, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas -- It was with a furious burst at the end of the year -- nine sacks against Oregon State -- that Texas finished just barely inside the top 20 in sacks.

Now while that last game was impressive, the overall production of the defensive ends mirrored the theme of the entire defense in 2012 -- hit or miss.


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

This week’s question: Which position is Texas’ biggest need for its 2014 class?

William Wilkerson: This comes down to a few positions for me.


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The Longhorns don’t have a true defensive end commitment in 2013, but they might be able to do without one.

Jackson Jeffcoat could return for his senior season after tearing his right pectoral muscle against Oklahoma. Even if he doesn’t come back, Texas still has Reggie Wilson, Cedric Reed, Shiro Davis, Hassan Ridgeway and Bryce Cottrell returning.

Then there’s the plethora of defensive ends in 2014, including commitment Derick Roberson, which the Longhorns have to think about.


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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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Class of 2013 defensive end Torrodney Prevot (Houston/Alief Taylor) woke up Thursday morning with three offers. By mid afternoon he’d doubled that.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Prevot received an offer from Baylor early in the morning and added offers from Oklahoma and Texas after that.

“It was a crazy day for me,” said Prevot, who already had offers from LSU, Texas A&M and Utah.

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AUSTIN, Texas -- Two-star defensive end Bryce Cottrell (Plano, Texas/West) has signed his letter of intent to Texas.

Cottrell (6-foot-3, 225 pounds) switched his commitment from Oregon to the Longhorns on Monday after taking an official visit to Texas over the weekend.

Cottrell is one of four defensive ends committed to the Longhorns along with Caleb Bluiett (Beaumont, Texas/West Brook) and Hassan Ridgeway (Mansfield, Texas/Mansfield).

He chose Texas over offers from Oregon, Arkansas, Arizona State, Boston College, Ole Miss, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Baylor, Mississippi State, and Purdue.

Scouts take: “An active player against the run, particularly chasing down ball carrier from a weak side technique. Has good height and muscular build with plenty of room for growth. Improved upper body strength will benefit his ability to stand his ground and create more separation when up on the line in college. Overall, Cottrell has good upside and physical tools develop into the outside linebacker position. With refinement of technique, improved read and recognition skills and coverage experience he could grow into a solid BCS level player.”

Importance to class: Texas was desperate for another defensive end after losing out on Mario Edwards and thinking Torshiro Davis was firm in with LSU. So it went out and got Cottrell after little to no contact between either party. Cottrell is the lowest-rated player in Texas’ class but is important nonetheless. The Longhorns return five defensive ends, including both starters in Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor. But only one of those (Cedric Reed) will be an underclassmen next season. It was important for Texas to build some depth at that position in this class, and it did so with Cottrell.

How soon can he make an impact? He’s probably going to redshirt due to the numbers in front of him. Jeffcoat, Okafor, Reed, Chris Whaley and Reggie Wilson all return.

Cottrell on signing with Texas: “It was best for me and my family. Their scheme fit me better. The [Texas] coaches sat me down and showed me everything, and it truly did fit the way I play.”

It's signing day, enjoy the show

February, 1, 2012
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Where will he go?

Who is he? Well, Dorial Green-Beckham (Springfield, Mo./Hillcrest), of course.

Longhorns fans, set your alarms to tune in to his announcement at 9:15 a.m. CT on ESPNU.

After that? Kick back and relax.

National signing day means a crazy and exciting day for the players, teams and their fans, but for Texas, there appears to be no pending drama.

While adding DGB would almost certainly vault Texas to the top recruiting class, it seems almost as certain that the 6-foot-6 receiver will not be in burnt orange.

Meanwhile, Mack Brown and Co. have already finished their work for 2012. A mad finish to the recruiting year might have been one of the better recruiting weekends for the Longhorns.

After a week of in-home visits, Daje Johnson (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson) and Dalton Santos (Van, Texas/Van) both made officials visits while being committed to other schools.

That visit was all it took for the two ESPNU 150 players to switch their commitments. Added to that was the surprise commitment of two-star defensive end Bryce Cottrell (Plano, Texas/West), and by Monday, the Longhorns had pretty much wrapped up a class featuring 11 members of the ESPNU 150.

While today’s excitement will be reserved for other schools, sit back and enjoy the show Texas fans.

DE Bryce Cottrell switches to Texas 

January, 30, 2012
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Just when it seemed Texas had wrapped up an impressive 2012 recruiting class with two weekend commitments, the Longhorns have pulled off an improbable switch.

Two-star defensive end Bryce Cottrell (Plano, Texas/Plano West) confirmed in a text message to HornsNation he has given Texas his verbal commitment. Cottrell had previously been committed to Oregon for the past three months.

"It was best for me and my family," Cottrell said in a text message. "Their scheme fit me better.

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