Texas Longhorns: Chevoski Collins



What’s the most critical position in the Big 12? It depends on who you talk to. In a conference that rides its offensive reputation, some coaches are hoping to land players that will help them score points, while others are looking for the prospects to prevent points.

As official visits become finalized and uncommitted players get closer to announcing their commitments, here is a look at some of the most critical positions in recruiting for the Big 12 teams.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

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.
Just get four-star athlete Chevoski Collins (Livingston, Texas/Livingston) on the field. That’s the best advice Livingston head coach Randy Rowe has for Texas’ coaches. The rest will play out itself.

Whether it’s at a position to be determined by Longhorns defensive backs coach Duane Akina, or split out wide for Texas co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite.

The Longhorns recruited Collins, who committed to Texas over Oklahoma, Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State, as a defensive back. But he always maintained that there would be a chance for him to play on offense, which is what he preferred for the longest time.

Chevoski Collins
Max Olson/ESPN.comESPN 300 recruit Chevoski Collins could play either receiver or defensive back for the Longhorns.
HornsNation checked in with Rowe to talk about Collins' future at Texas.

HornsNation: Where would you play Collins if you were Texas' coaches?

Randy Rowe: Well I don’t know if they need my advice but I think he does great things with the ball in his hand. I think Coach Akina got it right. I think he can play corner and has the physical-ness to play safety too. Plus he can return kicks. I think just being a safety or a corner and returning kicks.

HN: Why do you like him in the secondary more than on offense?

Rowe: I would just say because he is physical and he’ll hit you. I like his added ability to flip his hips as they say. He can really cover. It’s a biased opinion but I think you’ll see what I’m talking about.

HN: What is it about Collins, the No. 253 recruit overall in 2013, that you appreciate the most?

Rowe: I like his intelligence, his football intelligence. He studies the game. I don’t even know how to put it.

HN: What about his defensive back abilities?

Rowe: College coaches like to say he has tremendous hips. If you put him on the track in the 100, he might not win the race. But if you put a football in his arm he is going to get it done. He’s a tremendous competitor too.

HN: Recruiting can get into the head of these prospects sometime. Did you see Collins change through it all or did he always stay the same?

Rowe: I think he is a very genuine person. I think it’s difficult for any young man. A lot of people might not know this, it was the previous regime, but after his sophomore year A&M offered him. They gave him a verbal that he could come in. I’ve been doing this 23 years, 16 as a head coach, and I’ve never had that happened. And I’ve had the pleasure of coaching some great young men. It really started after his sophomore year. I tried to ease him up as a freshman. I moved him up the last couple of practices. But he broke his collarbone in practice.

HN: What will you miss the most about Collins?

Rowe: I am just looking forward to his great success. The thing I’ll remember about him is his great smile. He had a great personality. Everybody likes him. I think he’s a natural leader. I’ll miss him coming into the office and we’ll be having our football discussions. He studies athletics. We might talk about the NBA or what’s going on in the NFL. He is just an impressive young man and I know he’ll do well.
Texas lost five previously committed players in its 2013 recruiting class, something that never used to be a problem for the Longhorns. But they'll finish with the Big 12's top class in 2013, featuring eight ESPN 300 signees.

Each of the following players have officially sent in their letters of intent, and here's who's heading to the 40 Acres.
It's a really small class for Texas with just 15 signees after signing 28 players a year ago and 22 and 25 the previous two seasons. But the Longhorns are sitting at No. 14 in our ESPN class rankings, down a spot from where they began the day.
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

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Roundtable: Must-get 2014 recruits 

January, 4, 2013
1/04/13
11:30
AM ET
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

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Postseason stat check: Texas commits 

December, 26, 2012
12/26/12
4:00
PM ET
The Texas high school football season officially came to an end on Saturday. That day proved to be a big one for 2014 quarterback commit Jerrod Heard, but he’s not the only future Longhorn who thrived in 2012.

[+] EnlargeJake Oliver
Miller SafritWR Jake Oliver, a Texas commit, had a remarkable season.
Receiver commit Jake Oliver delivered another historic season. He finished No. 1 among Class 5A receivers in the DFW area in both receptions and receiving yards, and in doing so set the new state record for career receptions with 308. That’s good for second-best in the national record books, too.

While the season stats of Tyrone Swoopes will earn some scrutiny, there’s no questioning what Heard did in his junior year. The Denton Guyer standout finished with 4,228 total yards of offense and a combined 52 touchdowns (35 rushing).

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

AUSTIN, Texas -- Nobody has played more true freshmen than Texas over the past two years.

Eighteen hit the field in 2011. Another 16 in 2012.

[+] EnlargeMack Brown
Kevin Jairaj/US PresswireMack Brown's 2013 recruiting class might not be needed to contribute early because of the Longhorns' young roster.
In 2013, few teams will play less newcomers than the Longhorns. The simple fact is Texas, despite the record, is loaded with returning talent at every position. And those few freshmen who did not play at the start of their careers are starting to appear more and more ready to step up now.

"In fact, all of them have looked really good," said Texas coach Mack Brown of the redshirts participating in bowl practice. "I think that's a great class. For us to have played 16 of them and the ones that didn't play looked good. So it will be fun to watch those guys through the spring."

That fun might have to be tempered with a few hard decisions when it comes to mixing and matching where to put the bodies. But that there finally are experienced bodies in place bodes well for Texas, even if doesn’t for those in the incoming class of 2013 who want to play right away.

The grumblings probably won’t be too loud, however, simply because there are not that many voices to be heard. Texas has 12 commitments from high school players with quite possibly only one more high school prospect becoming a commitment, Andrew Billings (Waco, Texas/Waco). If that remains the case, this will be the smallest class of high school players Brown has signed in his tenure at Texas.

Texas has and is expected to continue to try and supplement this class with junior college players. De'Vondre Campbell (Hutchinson, Kan./ Hutchinson CC) is a possibility at linebacker and Geoff Swaim (Chico, Calif./Butte CC) is coming in as a tight end. There might be more to come. And that further clogs up the playing pipeline for next year’s true freshmen.

Whether or not Campbell signs with Texas, the linebacker spot should have enough bodies so that Deoundrei Davis (Cypress, Texas/ Cypress Woods) is not pressed into early playing time. Texas should have a healthy Jordan Hicks back as well as returning starter Steve Edmond and the emerging Peter Jinkens as the first group. That leaves Texas with a strong group of reserves in Tevin Jackson, Dalton Santos, Kendall Thompson, and Demarco Cobbs. Thompson has started in the past and will get a shot. Cobbs also has started but might be seen as more of a third down specialist in the future.

Texas has three defensive backs committed and that is a spot where the Longhorns will be weakened by the departure of safety Kenny Vaccaro. But moves have already been made to shore up that weakness. Cornerback Quandre Diggs, one of Texas’ best defensive players, has been shifted to safety during bowl practice

"[Defensive backs coach Duane Akina] always likes to move them around and if you have more corners than safeties for next year, you're losing that toughness that Kenny Vaccaro brings and that confidence and leadership; so who will be the guy to step in there and to help that?" Browns said. "So Quandre has played about every day at safety, he knows what to do, and the other end of it."

Adrian Phillips played significantly better in the second half of the season at safety than the first. Mykkele Thompson should also be more prepared. At corner, Carrington Byndom is back, Duke Thomas is available and Josh Turner can play both. While the defensive back position is not loaded, there appear to be enough veteran players to keep Texas from having to dip down and grab someone like Antwuan Davis (Bastrop, Texas/Bastrop), Chevoski Collins (Livingston, Texas/Livingston) or Erik Huhn (Cibolo, Texas/Steele).

The defensive and offensive lines return everybody except defensive end Alex Okafor. Cedric Reed, Reggie Wilson and Shiro Davis will serve as Okafor’s replacement and Jackson Jeffcoat’s backup. So it is unlikely Jake Raulerson (Celina, Texas/Celina) will see any time. Defensive tackle is Texas’ deepest position and with Malcom Brown commanding more and more playing time there is not much sense is using A'Shawn Robinson (Fort Worth, Texas/ Arlington Heights) early.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

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

This week's question: Texas has seen Ricky Seals-Jones, Daeshon Hall, Kyle Hicks and now Durham Smythe decommit from the 2013 class. Who is the one recruit Texas can't afford to lose before signing day?

William Wilkerson: There are several choices here but I’m going with ESPN 150 DB Antwuan Davis because of Texas’ struggles recruiting the secondary in this class.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

TE Durham Smythe decommits from Texas 

December, 12, 2012
12/12/12
1:51
PM ET
Texas’ 2013 recruiting class has suffered another defection.

[+] EnlargeDurham Smythe
Miller Safrit/ESPN.comTight end Durham Smythe is the Longhorns' fourth decommitment for the Class of 2013.
Four-star tight end Durham Smythe (Belton, Texas/Belton) decommitted from the Longhorns on Tuesday. The longtime Texas commit confirmed his decision in a text message to HornsNation.

"I have nothing but respect for the coaches, commits, players and program," Smythe said, "but I had to do what I thought was right for me personally."

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

ESPN 300 athlete Chevoski Collins (Livingston, Texas/Livingston) took his time with the recruiting process, analyzing numerous factors before making his decision Oct. 8.

In the end he opted for the Longhorns over a plethora of other offers, including Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU.

Chevoski Collins
Max Olson/ESPN.comESPN 300 athlete Chevoski Collins could play either receiver or defensive back at Texas.
HornsNation caught up with Livingston coach Randy Rowe to discuss Collins’ decision, which position he thinks Collins will end up playing, and what went on when Longhorns defensive tackles coach Bo Davis stopped by the school last week.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

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 Thursday.

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

A few of the notes in today's The Heard:

  • Texas team banquet visitors list
  • UT leaders for McEvoy?

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Five from Friday: Darius James returns 

November, 19, 2012
11/19/12
2:00
PM ET
Every week through the football season, HornsNation’s William Wilkerson and Max Olson will break down five things they learned while on the road at Texas high school football games. From the latest on Longhorn commits and offers to game observations to players who caught their attention, they've got you covered. Here’s what they saw this weekend:

Max’s games: Livingston vs. Mont Belvieu Barbers Hill, DeSoto vs. Harker Heights

1. Top commit James is back

[+] EnlargeDarius James
Max Olson/ESPN.comDarius James played for the first time Saturday since breaking his foot.
In The Heard this week, we mentioned that Darius James was going to the doctor on Thursday to find out of his could play in Harker Heights’ big first-round game against DeSoto.

Still, it was a bit of surprise to see the ESPN 150 Texas commit take the field on Saturday after missing nearly his entire senior season with a broken left foot.

What was even more remarkable is the fact that, despite losing 62-15 to No. 2 ranked DeSoto, James played all four quarters and stayed on the field for defense, too.

Now that James’ foot is healthy, he knows he’s got a lot of work to do on his conditioning. He broke the foot in August and said he weight ballooned up to 340 or more pounds because he couldn’t do any running.

James played left guard most of the game on Saturday, but if he can stay healthy going forward he’ll have a chance to seriously push Dom Espinosa for the starting job at center in 2013.

2. No rest for ATH Collins

Friday night was a brutal one for Texas athlete commit Chevoski Collins.

His Livingston team never stood a chance in a 31-0 loss to Barbers Hill. By my count, the Lions turned the ball over at least six times on the night.

But you can’t fault Collins. He gave everything he had in this game as he has all season.

The future Longhorn defensive back started at quarterback and safety. He also returned kicks, and he moved to receiver when the game started getting away from Livingston.

His stats weren’t great on offense, and Collins turned the ball over three times in the first half on an interception, a muffed punt return and a fumbled exchange with a running back.

But Collins still played a heck of a game on defense. He didn’t give up any big passes, and he absolutely flatted a receiver on one third-down play. He plays with impressive power for a guy who’s only 6-foot and 190 pounds.

That’s certainly not the way he wanted to end his high school career, but Collins told me he’s excited for what comes next. He’ll focus on working out this spring to get ready for his first summer as a Longhorn.

3. Dontre Wilson is very good

ESPN 150 Oregon commit Dontre Wilson (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto) is ranked as an athlete because he could make a fine running back or slot receiver or college. Turns out he can play some defense, too.

Wilson scooped up a fumble and took it back 55 yards for a touchdown in DeSoto’s win over Harker Heights, and he also picked off a pass. He told me he’s been playing safety from time to time this year just to stay on the field as much as possible.

By the way, Wilson still rushed for 99 yards and four touchdowns and also had a 48-yard touchdown catch. So that’s six total touchdowns. Not bad.

Texas coaches haven’t been in touch with Wilson since he committed to the Ducks back in May. I’m beginning to think there’s nothing that will sway him from that pledge.

What if Oregon coach Chip Kelly goes to the NFL? Won’t make much of a difference to Wilson.

“I think nothing is really going to change at Oregon if Chip Kelly leaves,” Wilson. “Somebody is going to take over and they’ll keep doing the same thing. Oregon will always be Oregon. It would be bittersweet if he leaves, though.”

Next up for Wilson is arguably the best and biggest game in the state this weekend: DeSoto vs. Coppell at Allen’s new $60 million Eagle Stadium.

“I can’t wait,” he said. “It’s the game everybody has been talking about, the game everybody been waiting for.”

4. New baseball commit advances


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Wide receiver Jacorey Warrick made the biggest jump of any Longhorns commitment in the ESPN 150, which was updated today. Warrick, who has been out since tearing the meniscus in his right knee on Oct. 4, moved up from No. 114 to No. 59. He is now the No. 8 wide receiver.

Darius James remains the Longhorns’ top-ranked player at No. 17 overall, which also makes him the No. 1 center. Jake Raulerson dropped a spot to No. 56 and remains the No. 3 offensive tackle.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

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 Thursday.

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

A few things discussed in this week’s edition:

  • Midseason stat check on Texas commits
  • When will Knox commit?

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Strong's High Expectations For Texas
Texas coach Charlie Strong sits down with Longhorn Network analyst and Texas alum Ricky Williams to talk about striving for success, staying disciplined and putting the "T" back in Texas. Tags: Texas, Charlie Strong, Ricky Williams, discipline, Longhorn Network
VIDEO PLAYLIST video