Texas Longhorns: Lorenzo Joe

Editor's note: This is the first part of a weeklong series breaking down Texas’ most important spring position battles when the Longhorns begin practice in two weeks.

Moving on: Texas is losing, statistically, one of the best wide receivers in its program’s history in Mike Davis. He leaves Austin ranking No. 4 in the Longhorn record books in both career receptions and receiving yards, and fifth in receiving TDs. And imagine what he could have done had Texas enjoyed a little more stability at the quarterback position during his four years. He started 38 games and brought the deep threat needed to stretch Big 12 defenses.

The contenders: We know what Texas has in reliable longtime starter Jaxon Shipley. No reason to worry about him. And you could argue that Kendall Sanders and Marcus Johnson aren’t really competing with each other for snaps. They seem like logical choices to be the No. 2 and No. 3 guys in this unit, at least on paper.

Among those vying with Shipley, Sanders and Johnson to prove they should see the field in 2014: John Harris, Jacorey Warrick, Montrel Meander, Jake Oliver, Armanti Foreman, Lorenzo Joe, Dorian Leonard, Roderick Bernard and Garrett Gray.

And don’t forget Daje Johnson, the versatile weapon who focused on receiver in 2013, and the injured Bryant Jackson, who will miss spring practice. Even if a few of these wideouts leave for playing time elsewhere, it’s going to be a crowded receiver room this fall.

Moving forward: What makes this a battle is the stunning number of young backups who will compete for playing time this fall. There’s plenty of time for this number to change, and it will, but Texas could have as many as 14 scholarship receivers on the roster this fall.

Several of the incoming freshmen will redshirt, that much seems certain, but who knows what the Longhorns can expect from the rest. That’s the upside of signing so many wideouts with different skill sets. Throw them all onto a practice field, see which ones improve and stand out, and play the best of the best. That’s a luxury new receivers coach Les Koenning gets this fall.

Prediction: Many will point to Foreman and Joe as immediate contributors, and they’ll get a shot. But the trio of second-year receivers -- Warrick, Meander and Oliver -- will catch folks by surprise and find meaningful roles.

What’ll be fascinating to watch this spring is how the new staff puts Daje Johnson to use, and whether he can get his act together after two suspensions last season. If he does, he’s got a chance to become a nationally known and feared playmaker.

Incoming impact countdown: Nos. 4-8

February, 20, 2014
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Now that they’ve signed their letters of intent, Texas’ incoming recruits can officially toss their stars in the trash. They don’t matter now.

While such ratings and rankings are helpful throughout the recruiting process, they mean nothing once a kid sets foot on campus and joins the program.

Gold stars won’t decide who gets to play as a freshman. Preparation, fit, need, raw talent, confidence, some good fortune -- a whole lot of real stuff matters now. Which members of Texas’ 2014 class have a chance to help out the Longhorns from day one?

This week we’re breaking down the Texas signees by their ability to make an early impact during their time on the 40 Acres, counting down from No. 23 to No. 1. If you missed it, here were the first three parts.

[+] EnlargeLorenzo Joe
Tom Hauck for Student SportsTexas has a logjam at receiver, but don't be surprised if Lorenzo Joe contributes this fall.
8. WR Lorenzo Joe
Abilene Cooper | 6-2, 190


2013: 1,864 passing yards, 13 passing TDs, 1,657 rushing yards, 22 rushing TDs

Joe is one of the clear-cut leaders of this class and one of its most intriguing athletes. Abilene Cooper wisely played Joe at quarterback in an effort to put the ball in the hands of its best player as much as possible, and he thrived in that capacity. But Joe has been working to refine his receiving skills on the side throughout during the two years, and won’t be as raw as you’d think by the time fall camp arrives.

The logjam at receiver has been well-documented in this series, so it’s once again difficult to peg where Joe fits into this mix and who he’s capable of surpassing on the depth chart. Devoting a year to the wide receiver position will be good for him, and Joe is talented enough to help the Longhorns in 2014.

7. CB Jermaine Roberts
New Orleans St. Augustine | 5-9, 170

2013: 56 tackles, 6 interceptions, 1 kick return TD

Roberts considers himself a game-changer akin to Tyrann Mathieu, and the Louisiana native will show up in Austin with immeasurable confidence and swagger, both on and off the field. But where does he fit in from Day 1?

There could be an opening at corner depending on how defensive coordinator Vance Bedford and defensive backs coach Chris Vaughn approach replacing Carrington Byndom, or maybe Roberts can step in and help on nickel and dime coverage immediately. He’s at least got a shot at finding a role on special teams, and he’ll want a shot at returning kicks. This kid wants to play, and he’ll have the opportunity to prove himself.

6. RB Donald Catalon
Houston Eisenhower | 6-0, 200

2013: 866 rushing yards, 410 receiving yards, 9 TDs, 38 tackles, 1 interception

As is the case with the other running back signees in this class, it’s possible Catalon could end up at another position besides running back during his career. He shows enough natural instincts and skills to play in the secondary. Is that where he’s most likely to maximize his potential? Too soon to tell.

What we do know is Texas needs help at running back this fall, and Catalon would appear to have the clearest path to entering that stable and contributing. He’s a slasher with a nice combination of speed and power, but he’s got work to do if he wants to get on the level of Texas’ three incumbent backs.

[+] EnlargeJerrod Heard
Max Olson/ESPNBarring injuries at the QB position, the best option for Jerrod Heard and Texas might be to redshirt in 2014.
5. QB Jerrod Heard
Denton Guyer | 6-2, 190

2013: 2,148 passing yards, 22 passing TDs, 6 INTs, 2,172 rushing yards, 28 rushing TDs

Why, you ask, is Heard not at the top of this list? Because where we stand today, it still seems like a redshirt is the more probable outcome for Heard in his freshman campaign. That seems even more likely if Texas does end up landing former USC quarterback Max Wittek via transfer.

Heard is special. We’ve written that he’s the quarterback of the future for the Longhorns. That’s still true if he doesn’t play in 2014, and that year would be a remarkably valuable experience. All bets are off if David Ash goes down, obviously, but right now the smartest course of action would be keeping Heard on the bench and letting him soak in the knowledge Shawn Watson and Joe Wickline offer.

4. DT Poona Ford
Hilton Head (S.C.) | 6-1, 288

2013: 135 tackles, 28 TFLs, seven sacks, 17 QB pressures, two forced fumbles

This is one bad dude. Power, quick feet and a knack for inflicting pain -- that, in a nutshell, is what Ford can bring to the table. And Texas coaches made it perfectly clear to him during his recruitment that he was a need, a must-get who can play from Day 1 if he brings his best.

The depth behind Malcom Brown, Desmond Jackson and Hassan Ridgeway is questionable at best. Playing time is there for the taking so long as Ford takes care of his business. And what else can he do? Well, he did play some fullback last fall. Enjoy.

Key recruiting visits -- Big 12 

January, 24, 2014
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With less than two weeks remaining until national signing day, every official visit is huge -- for the athlete and for the program. Some schools are in need of elite athletes more than others.

Here are 10 names to keep an eye on as they take their official visits to Big 12 schools:

1. ATH Lorenzo Joe (Abilene, Texas/Cooper)
Visiting: TCU


A two-hour trek eastbound to Fort Worth is making some Longhorns fans wonder -- and, perhaps, worry. Joe, an ESPN 300 athlete, has been committed to Texas since August 2012, but with the coaching transition from Mack Brown to Charlie Strong, Joe has checked out other options just to make sure Texas is the place for him. Look for TCU to roll the red -- or purple -- carpet out for him.

Texas coaches back on the road recruiting 

January, 16, 2014
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The dead period is over and it’s time to hit the road. Charlie Strong has his new coaching staff in place and is ready to get back to work on closing out Texas’ recruiting class.

The Longhorns currently have 21 committed prospects, though several are looking to take official visits elsewhere this month. There are big-time recruits still available. And don’t forget the new names who are sure to pop up on Texas’ radar in the next few weeks.

Here’s a rundown of where things stand and what names you should know entering the end of the dead period.

Solid commitments


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USC offers ESPN 300 ATH/Texas commit 

January, 10, 2014
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ESPN 300 athlete Lorenzo Joe (Abilene, Texas/Cooper) wants to set the record straight. He’s still a Texas commit.

He also wants everyone to know he’s monitoring the multiple coaching changes at Texas very carefully. Particularly, the offensive coordinator position.


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Texas commits respond to Strong hire 

January, 5, 2014
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Charlie Strong has officially been named Mack Brown’s successor at Texas. It’s a move that appears to get thumbs up from many of his future athletes.

As 2014 Texas recruits waited to hear who would be their future head coach, many of them were hoping for the right fit. Strong’s résumé -- 23-3 in his past two seasons at Louisville, 3-1 in four bowl game appearances and an outstanding recruiting reputation -- says he fits the bill.

In short, Strong gets it, and while Texas commits had the utmost respect for Brown, they now feel they’re in good hands.

“I think he can do pretty good there,” four-star offensive lineman Terrell Cuney (Jasper, Texas/Jasper) said. “I don’t think anyone can live up to what Mack did, but he’ll come in and do big things.

"Bring it on, man! 'Hook ‘Em all day!'”


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The Texas marching band paid tribute to outgoing Longhorns athletic director DeLoss Dodds by spelling out “DELOSS” at halftime of Texas’ 41-16 victory over Texas Tech on Thanksgiving.

Perhaps they should have spelled out “MACK” as well?

Growing sentiment around the 40 Acres is that Longhorns coach Mack Brown is on his way out regardless of how Texas ends this season. If that were indeed the case, then Thursday’s drubbing of the Red Raiders would have been his last home game as Texas’ head coach.

That's not the sentiment among the recruits who have pledged to play for Texas.


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Go ahead and mark this down as the biggest recruiting weekend of the season for the Texas Longhorns.

Jamal Adams
Damon Sayles/ESPNESPN 300 safety Jamal Adams will be among the highly ranked visitors expected to be in attendance when Texas hosts Oklahoma State this weekend.
It would have been impossible to comprehend that statement in mid-September when turmoil was at an all-time high around the program following back-to-back demoralizing losses to BYU and Ole Miss.

But now the Longhorns (7-2) are in the midst of a six-game winning streak and are one of two teams unbeaten in the Big 12 play. They’ll host No. 12 Oklahoma State on Saturday.

The Cowboys, at 8-1 overall, are doing very well and the matchup will help Texas as it hopes to impress a high-profile group of recruits expected to attend one of the top games of the weekend.

Among those expected to take their official visits this weekend are ESPN 300 members Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen), Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) and Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer), a Texas commitment.

The only thing that could derail these plans is that this week also marks the first week of high school playoffs across the state. But the 2:30 p.m. start time should allow recruits enough time to make the trip to Austin.

ESPN 300 running back Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine), the nation’s top player, also told RecruitingNation that he’ll be at the game on an official visit. Two of his teammates from New Orleans Saint Augustine are already committed to Texas in defensive back Jermaine Roberts and defensive tackle Courtney Garnett.


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Commits, targets chime in on Texas win 

October, 13, 2013
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Talk about needing a victory for multiple reasons.

More than 92,000 fans watched Texas on Saturday not only beat archrival Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry but also temporarily silenced all of Mack Brown’s critics. When the game ended, there was no demand for Brown to call it quits as the Longhorns’ head coach at the end of the season. There was also no talk of Oklahoma’s seniors sweeping the rivalry through their four-year span.

All that was mentioned was the final score at the historic Cotton Bowl: Texas 36, Oklahoma 20. The Longhorns, considered major underdogs, grabbed a win that put them in first place Big 12, along with Texas Tech, at 3-0 -- a half-game ahead of Baylor and a full game ahead of Oklahoma.

It was a game that several recruiting targets had marked on their calendars. With 24 commits in its 2014 class, Texas doesn’t have much room to add players. However, the Longhorns are hoping to land one or two more elite athletes. Defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell), safety Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/Bowie) and cornerback Nick Watkins (Dallas/Bishop Dunne), all ESPN 300 players, are still considering the Longhorns.

There’s plenty of room, however, in the 2015 class, and while the Longhorns already have eight commits -- all ESPN Junior 300 players -- they are looking to add more playmakers. One player on hand who was impressed was ESPN Junior 300 receiver DaMarkus Lodge (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill), who currently has the Longhorns high on his list.


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Big 12 recruiting storylines: Oct. 10 

October, 10, 2013
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The Big 12 has a big weekend ahead in Dallas and Texas Tech is surging. Here’s a look at some of the Big 12’s top recruiting storylines.

Big names set to attend Red River Rivalry
There is never a season, regardless of what type of shape either program is in, that the Cotton Bowl won’t be filled with some of the most desirable recruits in the country.

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Stat check: Longhorns 2014 commitments 

September, 2, 2013
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Here is a look at how each one of Texas’ 2014 commitments faired this week:

Derick Roberson
Max Olson/ESPNDefensive end Derick Roberson helped Brennan shut out San Antonio Holmes 52-0 on Friday.
• ESPN 300 defensive end Derick Roberson (San Antonio, Texas/Brennan), the No. 8 DE in the country, helped Brennan shut out San Antonio Holmes 52-0 on Friday.

• ESPN 300 wide receiver Armanti Foreman (Texas City, Texas/Texas City) caught three passes for 62 yards and a 44-yard touchdown in a 48-0 win over Dickinson.

• ESPN 300 quarterback Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer) completed 12 of 18 passes for 179 yards and two interceptions and rushed 18 times for 103 yards in a 38-28 loss to Cedar Hill (Texas).

• ESPN 300 cornerback Jermaine Roberts (New Orleans/Saint Augustine) helped the Purple Knights defense hold Amite to six points in a 35-6 victory on Saturday.

• ESPN 300 outside linebacker Otaro Alaka and Houston/Cypress Falls lost to Conroe (Texas) Oak Ridge, 37-16.


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How times have changed at Texas.

Just a short time ago the Longhorns wouldn’t even offer junior targets without them attending one of their Junior Day’s first.

Now Texas is ahead of most with eight commitments in 2015 and now has its first verbal pledge from a 2016 prospect.

Talented wide receiver Reggie Hemphill (Manvel, Texas/Manvel) became the first member of UT’s 2016 recruiting class when he committed to Mack Brown and Co. on Tuesday evening, according to his mother, Denetria Mapps.


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Welcome to The Heard, HornsNation’s weekly in-depth look inside the never-ending world of Longhorns recruiting with news, notes and interesting tidbits on the latest happenings around the program. We’ll release this every Friday.

Talk about it in our forum and, if there’s a recruit out there you’d like to hear more from, let us know.

In this week’s edition of The Heard:

  • Texas Stampede visitors list

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Summer Recruit Wrap: Texas 

July, 23, 2013
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Here is a look at five things we’ve learned about Longhorns recruiting this summer.

1. Suddes making big impact

Patrick Suddes, Texas’ Director of Player Personnel, could go down as one of coach Mack Brown’s best hires in his time at UT. All Suddes has done since coming on board in March is help make smart, innovative decisions that have helped the Longhorns appeal to recruits despite not winning like they’re used to on the field.


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Odds are it’ll hit them one day. It almost always does.

Something is likely going to trigger the inner hatred for Oklahoma inside Texas’ 2014 commits. It just hasn’t hit most of them yet.


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