Texas Longhorns: Miles Onyegbule

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. 17 Miles Onyegbule
Senior quarterback/tight end

Recruitment rewind: Texas was in the lead for nearly a year and locked up a commitment from Onyegbule at the start of its first 2010 junior day. The three-star wide receiver recruit from Arlington, Texas, chose the Longhorns over Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. He played quarterback in his senior year and threw for 12 TDs and rushed for 21 more. Fun fact: As a junior, he was the go-to receiver for new TCU QB Matt Joeckel.

Career so far: Onyegbule caught four passes as a true freshman but has recorded zero receptions ever since. He moved to tight end during fall camp in 2012 (side note: one of the few times Mack Brown broke news on Twitter) and played in eight games that year. As a junior, he missed the first five games with a leg injury and ended up appearing in just two. This spring, he returned to quarterback to bolster depth and threw for 60 yards and two interceptions on 5-of-10 passing in the spring game.

Best-case scenario for 2014: Onyegbule beats out Tyrone Swoopes for the No. 2 QB job after the Texas staff elects to redshirt Jerrod Heard no matter what. The senior gets the call when David Ash goes down against Kansas, then heroically defeats Oklahoma to become not only a legend of Longhorn lore but also a national media fave. He plays game manager the rest of the way and leads Texas to a nine-win season. A parody of this song, rewritten for "Onyegbule," is produced and gains brief popularity. Onyegbule even receives a few third-place Heisman votes out of respect for the difficulty of the out-of-nowhere triumph. But, you know, that's probably a long shot.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: Now that Max Wittek isn't coming to Texas, it's possible Onyegbule sticks at quarterback and doesn't spend much time chasing snaps as a tight end. If that does end up being the case, the most likely outcome is he spends his senior season holding a clipboard on the sideline.

Future expectations: This is Onyegbule's last chance to change how he'll remember his career in burnt orange. Thus far, his total contribution in 22 games has been four catches for 51 yards. He should be commended for making the move to quarterback for the sake of the team, even if it wasn't in his best interest, and you'd hope he'll get a chance to make his mark in some way as a senior.
AUSTIN, Texas -- Charlie Strong tried to play coy. Well, either that or he didn’t understand the question.

The question posed Tuesday was whether the first-year Texas coach can envision a quarterback joining this Longhorns program in the summer and competing for the starting job.

“I don’t know who that would be. You got somebody coming in for me?” Strong said before chuckling. “You got a secret guy coming here for me? We signed one in Jerrod [Heard]. He’s the only one.”

[+] EnlargeTyrone Swoopes
Matthew Visinsky/Icon SMITexas QB Tyrone Swoopes will now run the first-team offense and coach Charlie Strong told him "This is your team and it's up to you to go lead."
This was, of course, a veiled attempt at the question Horns fans have been chewing on for weeks and, in particular, the past five days: Is Max Wittek coming to Texas?

The Longhorns’ need for the former USC quarterback looms large now that David Ash has been lost for the spring. Right now, there’s a whole lot more interest in the three passers who won’t be playing in the Orange-White spring game this Saturday than the trio who will.

Finally recovered from the concussion-related issues that ended his 2013 season early, Ash was poised to once again take control of the Texas offense and he made a strong first impression on his new coaches.

Those efforts got put on hold when UT doctors discovered a fracture in his left foot that required surgery.

“It’s very tough because the injury for him, I don’t know how long he had it, but he said it had been bothering him,” Strong said. “He came in the other day, our trainers checked him and we were able to find out exactly what was wrong.

“You would’ve never known he had the injury with just how well he was practicing and the way he’s been carrying himself. He understands this: A team is going to come and go as its quarterback goes. He wants to be the leader.”

Strong won’t call Ash his clear-cut No. 1 quarterback, at least not publicly, and said he didn’t anticipate naming a starter this spring. That decision will come during fall camp. But Ash had learned the new scheme and terminology, and he’s led the offense before.

With Ash out, Texas is left with three passers for its Saturday scrimmage at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Sophomore Tyrone Swoopes will run the first-team offense. Walk-on Trey Holtz and converted tight end Miles Onyegbule, who prior to this spring hadn’t played QB since 2010, will get the backup snaps.

After the news of Ash’s injury broke, Strong told Swoopes to get ready to roll. This is, for the final week of spring ball, his offense.

“I told Tyrone the key thing for you is it’s all about confidence and it’s all about you just doing everything we ask you to do and play within yourself,” Strong said. “Now that you are the quarterback, just take the field and know this: This is your team and it’s up to you to go lead.”

In his six appearances as Texas quarterback last season, Swoopes played like a freshman. With the exception of three drives in a Valero Alamo Bowl loss to Oregon, the dual-threat quarterback with tantalizing size (6-foot-4, 245 pounds) and intriguing speed wasn’t asked to do much. He was inconsistent in the mop-up minutes he did receive.

Swoopes will remain a project until he gets more comfortable throwing the ball. His legs usually did the job while he thrived in small-town Whitewright, Texas, and he still has plenty to learn about beating Big 12 defenses.

But Strong saw enough last Saturday during a spring scrimmage to be encouraged, calling his performances “outstanding.”

“I don’t know his numbers, but he had really good numbers and threw an unbelievable ball to Marcus [Johnson] down the sideline where he beat one of our defensive backs, laid it out there and it was a big throw,” Strong said. “He did a really good job and he settled in. He took it and had the confidence and just had a different air about him, and did a really good job leading the offense.”

Still, quarterback is atop the list of Strong’s biggest concerns as Texas finishes off its first round of practices. The addition of Wittek, who has taken multiple visits to Austin and is expected to decide in the near future, would alleviate some of the worry.

So would a strong summer from Heard, a two-time state champion at Denton (Texas) Guyer who arrives the first week of June. Strong said he’ll get a chance to win the job like everyone else, but first he’ll have to master his playbook.

Heard will be in the stands on Saturday afternoon, with the thousands of other Longhorns fans. They'll be watching closely for the first round of a Texas quarterback battle, but the truth is, it hasn't even begun.

Four Downs: Opening observations 

August, 11, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas -- Each week, Sean Adams looks at a few topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First Down: Up tempo is even faster now

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. 17 Miles Onyegbule
Junior H-back/receiver

Expectations for 2013: It’s slightly surprising that Onyegbule’s career has not taken off yet. He was one of the early surprises in the fall practices of 2011. But Texas’s passing game was a mess that season and Onyegbule only caught four passes. Injuries complicated his 2012 season, as there was a knee injury in the offseason and an ankle injury during the season.

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AUSTIN, Texas -- Geoff Swaim was knocked down because he stood up.


"This isn’t junior college," Texas coach Mack Brown said.

[+] EnlargeM.J. McFarland
AP Photo/Michael ThomasTexas' M.J. McFarland has improved as a blocker but needs to show more consistency.
Nope, to steal a line from Dan Hawkins -- sans the hysterical screaming voice -- it's Division I football. And Swaim, a junior college transfer working in his first spring practice with the Longhorns, found that out from the seat of his pants during practice Friday.

Texas found out on Saturday that Swaim had learned his lesson as he stayed low in his blocks and, surprisingly enough, on his feet. Consider it a learning curve successfully traveled.

Now all Texas has to do is learn how to most effectively use Swaim and the rest of the tight ends.

"We’ve got to figure out with what we are doing now and not substituting what Greg [Daniels] and Geoff Swaim can do as compared to [Miles] Onyegbule, John Harris and [M.J.] McFarland," Brown said.

(Read full post)

Position breakdown: Tight end 

February, 14, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas -- For two years Texas wanted a tight end that could block first, seal the edge and maybe occasionally catch a pass downfield.

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Texas poised to take big 2014 class 

February, 14, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas A&M was the talk of the state in 2013 with its 32-man recruiting class. Don’t be shocked if Texas comes close to those numbers with its 2014 class.

As always, it’s a matter of math. Texas, by rule, can sign no more than 50 recruits in any two-year period. The Longhorns inked 15 this year, so 35 is the absolute maximum for 2014.

Texas isn’t going for 35 this year. Its 2013 team will feature 15 seniors if Jordan Hicks is granted his medical redshirt. A full class of 25 signees is likely. But don’t rule out the possibility of 30.

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Horns Snapshot: TE Geoff Swaim 

February, 1, 2013
To gear up for 2013 national signing day, HornsNation’s William Wilkerson is breaking down every commitment in the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class.

Vitals: Tight end Geoff Swaim, Chico, Calif/Butte College | 6-foot-5, 250 pounds

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Four downs: Resurrecting a rivalry 

January, 30, 2013
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 -- Four of the five schools that offensive lineman Andrew Billings (Waco, Texas/Waco) is still considering are selling him on the idea of being a defensive tackle.

That’s exactly where the 6-foot-1, 315-pound state powerlifting champion wants to play.

“It’s more fun,” the four-star prospect said. “Offense is OK. You build good relationships with the guys on the line. But defensive line is more individual. You get more recognition. It's more my style of play. I don't like to wait on people. I like to go out there and get it."

[+] EnlargeHenry Melton
Icon SMIFormer Longhorn Henry Melton rushed for 625 yards and 16 touchdowns in college before moving to defensive tackle.
Hearing that must ease the minds of coaches as Baylor, SMU, Mississippi State and TCU, but only to a certain degree. That’s because Texas, the lone finalist that wants him on the offensive line, normally has its pick of the litter when it comes to recruiting within state boundaries.

“It’s Texas,” Billings responded when asked if it hurt the Longhorns' chances that they want him on offense. “I just want to play four more years of football.”

That’s just it: The Longhorns sell themselves. And in instances when they do come across a recruit that might not see eye-to-eye with them on where they want him to play, they can point to the proven track record they have of changing a player's position once he’s on campus that was beneficial for both parties.

It has happened throughout the course of Mack Brown's 15 seasons on the 40 Acres.

Henry Melton spent his first two seasons at running back before coaches figured out his 6-foot-3, 260-pound frame would be better suited for the defensive line.

An honorable mention All-Big 12 selection as a senior, Melton now starts for the Chicago Bears. In his first year as a starter in 2011, he finished with seven sacks, which was tied for third-most among NFL defensive tackles.

The Longhorns recruited high school All-American Aaron Lewis as a defensive end out of Albuquerque, N.M., in 2005. After starting 10 games as an end during his sophomore and junior seasons, he was moved to defensive tackle as a senior and was named an honorable mention All-Big 12 member by league coaches for the first time.

Lamarr Houston was a running back and linebacker out of Colorado Springs, but Texas moved him to defensive tackle as a junior and now he starts at defensive end for the Oakland Raiders.

“If you get the big guys that are speed guys when they start with and they gain so much weight they move down -- [former Longhorn] Marcus Tubbs was a tight end -- you just go back and look at some of those guys that can really be a force inside,” Brown said.

There are several players following similar paths on Texas’ roster.

Chris Whaley converted from running back to starting nose guard. Alex De La Torre and Chet Moss were brought in as linebackers but have both made the switch to fullback. Miles Onyegbule has transitioned from receiver to tight end and now plays alongside Greg Daniels and Caleb Bluiett, who were both recruited as defensive ends.

“We felt like my job is to look around the team, and if a guy is not being able to produce where he is, find a place where he can produce better,” Brown said. “And whether you're moving Lamarr Houston or Aaron Lewis or guys that we've moved throughout our 15 years here, that's part of my job is to try to figure out who can step up and have a chance.”

The main issue for Texas, which really isn’t much of one to begin with, is getting these players on campus in order to make a switch possible. Longhorns coaches have told Billings that they’d give him a shot at defensive tackle but that they see his future as a center.

He doesn’t have any qualms with that and neither did fellow two-way ESPN 150 lineman Jake Raulerson, who was originally recruited as an offensive tackle but could start off on the defensive line.

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AUSTIN, Texas -- Believe it or not, there was a time not long ago when tight end was a position of strength for the Longhorns.

David Thomas caught everything thrown his way while acting as Vince Young's security blanket during Texas’ run to the 2005 BCS national championship. When he left for the NFL, the Longhorns made a seamless transition to Jermichael Finley, a better athlete who produced at such a rate that he only stayed for two years before being picked 91st overall by the Green Bay Packers.

The evolution of the position was supposed to continue upward with the arrival of Californian Blaine Irby, and his wavy surfer-boy hair, in 2007. But injuries decimated his career, which he finished on a high note during his senior season in 2011, by playing in all 13 games.

Not only did Irby miss all of 2009 and 2010 with a knee injury but his backup, current Longhorns senior D.J. Grant, was also relegated to the sideline over that span with a knee injury of his own.

[+] EnlargeGreg Daniels
Ric Tapia/Icon SMIGreg Daniels, a converted defensive end, has shown 'progress' for the Longhorns during the preseason.
That left Texas with little wiggle room at a position that seems to still be recovering from seasons devoid of a certifiable pass threat. It’s a recovery process that seems to be lingering as the 2012 season rapidly approaches.

Texas head coach Mack Brown listed tight ends as one of his two main concerns when he met with the media on Wednesday. In the Longhorns’ first scrimmage of fall camp, Brown said that they dropped at least five passes and that they “did not get done what we want to get done.”

What they want to get done varies. The position has always been an essential part of co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin’s offensive philosophy.

Whether it’s putting them in a three-point stance and asking them to seal the edge, motioning them to H-back or out wide to create mismatches with slower linebackers and smaller defensive backs, Harsin, who coached Boise State's tight ends from 2002-05, has always made tight ends a vital part of his game plan.

(Read full post)

Four Downs: Rethinking the QB debate 

August, 15, 2012
Each week Sean Adams hits on four topics around the Texas Longhorns and the world of college football.

1st Down: Who still doesn’t believe that two quarterbacks will play?

Mack Brown said, “We’re having more consensuses that both can play right now and still win a game for us. Most of the time around here, we haven’t had a backup quarterback that could go in and win.”

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AUSTIN, Texas -- A dozen practices into the preseason and Texas coach Mack Brown is no closer to knowing who his quarterback will be against Wyoming.

“I’ve got the same questions you do,” Brown said.

None of which were even answered in the scrimmage Monday night. Brown had thought perhaps either David Ash or Case McCoy would pull away in the competition. But, if anything, the margin between them has narrowed.

“We’re having more of a consensus that both could play right now and win the game for us,” Brown said.

By “we” Brown means the whole coaching staff. Brown has everyone involved in this decision. And if they can’t seem to make a decision, Texas does not appear averse to going into Wyoming (Sept. 1) with a game plan that utilizes two quarterbacks. In fact, right now Texas doesn’t seem too averse to going into the Kansas State game (Dec. 1) with a game plan that features two quarterbacks.

[+] EnlargeMalcolm Brown
Ray Carlin/Icon SMIHead coach Mack Brown said sophomore tailback Malcolm Brown has improved his vision and toughness.
“Both give us the chance to win if they protect the ball,” Brown said.

They did just that in Monday’s scrimmage. There was one turnover but it came on a ball that hit the tight end’s hands and bounced to a defensive back.

“Both [quarterbacks] have improved so much from the spring,” Brown said.

Ash and McCoy have improved in their respective game-management styles as well as their decision-making. Co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin has also applauded their increased accuracy.

“You can see it in one-on-ones,” Harsin said. “The decision-making is there. What I look for is -- there’s still mistakes and everything, but they can come back now and explain it, or coach themselves up right away. We’ll come back right away and repeat the play and correct it.”

Aside from the play of the quarterbacks all eyes were on the running backs. Freshman Johnathan Gray had most of the carries. The staff wanted to see how he reacted against the defense.

His reviews were not overwhelming but the ones for running back Malcolm Brown were. Brown said he was clearly the best runner on the field. His vision and toughness have both improved, the coach said.

Both Gray and Brown were featured in the “wild” package. Neither had success on the two snaps allotted. Brown was dropped for a two-yard loss. Gray’s play was halted before it started do to mistakes.

Along the line, Texas is moving Luke Poehlmann up to more of a prominent role at tackle. The senior is a couple of years removed from a knee injury now and Brown feels as if he is ready to be the first sub in along the line.

Poehlmann was in for Josh Cochran on Monday. The starting right tackle was rolled up on and suffered a leg injury. It’s nothing that would prohibit him from playing against Wyoming, Brown said.

Texas was also missing linebacker Demarco Cobbs, tight end Miles Onyegbule, defensive tackle Ashton Dorsey, defensive end Alex Norman, defensive end Hassan Ridgeway, kicker Anthony Fera and held out wide receiver Marquise Goodwin.
Norman and Ridgeway, both freshmen, have lingering muscle pull injuries. They could be very serious redshirt candidates because the injuries have limited their practice time.

If Fera is unable to go by Wyoming, Texas would go with either true freshman Nick Jordan or redshirt freshman Ben Pruitt at kicker.

Cobbs, Cochran and Dorsey are not expected to be out long. Goodwin and Onyegbule were only held out for precautionary reasons.

Quarterback Connor Brewer has a mild ankle issue but has remained in practice.
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Longhorns will head into fall camp relatively healthy. That includes sophomore quarterback David Ash, who suffered a strained hamstring on July 28.

The Texas sophomore was previously said to be day-to-day. Now it appears he’s fully healthy as the Longhorns prepare to take the field Monday morning.

“There seem to be a panic over David Ash last week,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “He’s fine and has been released to practice. David is fine, at full speed and is ready to go.”

He also announced that defensive back Adrian Phillips (shoulder), defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat (pectoral muscle) and tight end Greg Daniels (shoulder) have been cleared for practice after missing the spring and will be able to participate fully right away.

Cornerback Quandre Diggs (wrist), defensive end Reggie Wilson (unspecified), wide receiver Miles Onyegbule (pectoral muscle) and wide receiver Bryant Jackson will be limited to start practice.

“Quandre could play if we were playing [a game] today,” Brown said. “I will be careful with him early in practice. Then we will work Bryant, Miles and Reggie Wilson back into practice slowly.”

Brown also restated that freshman offensive lineman Camrhon Hughes will redshirt this season after tearing his ACL.
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. 81
Miles Onyegbule
Wide reicever/H-back, 6-4, 216, Sophomore

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Texas Longhorns Show Out On Pro Day
The Texas Longhorns produced several eligible NFL Draft athletes who participated in Pro Day Tuesday afternoon in Austin, Texas.