Texas Longhorns: Leroy Scott

Texas position groups to improve: No. 3

February, 12, 2014
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Texas is getting off to a later-than-usual start to its spring practices this year, with Charlie Strong set to lead the Longhorns onto the practice field for the first time on March 18.

[+] EnlargeMack Brown
Tom Pennington/Getty ImagesWith plenty of playing time available at safety, players such as Josh Turner (left) have chance to make a statement.
Until then, we’re counting down everything you need to know entering next season and the next era of Texas football. This week, we’re breaking down the five position groups with the most room to improve in 2014. We’ve already broken down No. 5 (tight ends) and No. 4 (defensive tackles). Here’s No. 3 on the list.

3. Safeties

The players: Mykkele Thompson, Josh Turner, Leroy Scott, Adrian Colbert, Erik Huhn, Kevin Vaccaro, John Bonney, Jason Hall

Last year: Adrian Phillips was the leader of the bunch, a senior captain who finished second on the team in tackles. Thompson, a junior, recorded 72 tackles and an interception in 12 starts. Turner started three games. Scott racked up three fumble recoveries and 2.5 TFLs in a limited role. Colbert mostly stuck to special teams, while Huhn and Vaccaro both sat out the season with injuries.

What’s missing: If there’s a position group that’s in for a reshuffling under the new staff, you have to think it’ll be the safeties. New secondary coaches Vance Bedford and Chris Vaughn will assess what they’re working with, and you could see spring practices become a trial period for all of these DBs until the right fit is found.

Thompson has 18 starts under his belt but still hasn’t become a physical hitter. Is he better off in another role? Turner and Scott can play multiple positions, and it’s time to see if Scott can develop into a starter this year after he showed flashes as a junior. This could be Colbert’s year, too.

And don’t forget Quandre Diggs. It’s not unfathomable to think he could dedicate more time to safety this spring if the new coaches are intrigued by that option.

Moving forward: It’s pretty simple: This is a critical offseason for all of these safeties. The slate has been wiped clean and the demands will be different.

Texas’ two secondary coaches can plug and play around during spring ball, and it’ll be fascinating to see who steps forward during the rigorous lifting program and improves his chances. It’s easy to envision a number of different combinations with this unit, and each player has something to prove over the next few months.
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. 31 Leroy Scott
Junior cornerback


AUSTIN, Texas – Quandre Diggs wants to quell all the rumors.

"I feel like we can put those rumors to rest about me playing safety this spring because that’s not what I’m doing," said the junior defensive back. "I’m playing nickel and corner. I don’t have a problem playing safety, but that is not where I’m needed right now."

[+] EnlargeQuandre Diggs
AP Photo/Rogelio V. SolisThe Longhorns experimented with playing Quandre Diggs at safety but he's sticking at cornerback.
There was a thought back in December that -- with Kenny Vaccaro leaving and the remaining safeties underperforming throughout 2012 -- Texas could move Diggs to safety. He even took some reps at that spot in bowl practice. Texas appeared to be deeper at corner and therefore could afford to make the move.

But there has been steady improvement, and as a direct result much more faith, in returning safeties Adrian Phillips, Mykkele Thompson and Josh Turner. Phillips is expected to be the leader of that group and the one certain starter. Many of his problems in 2012 were pinned on a shoulder injury that hampered his development.

"I have a lot of faith in those three guys in safety so we can put those rumors to rest," Diggs said.

(Read full post)

Position breakdown: Defensive back 

February, 21, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Duane Akina will spend most of the spring mix and matching.

Given time, the Texas secondary coach likes to take his time before typecasting a certain player in a certain role. Ideally, Akina prefers to have every defensive back ready and able to play every role.

That versatility can not only cover up some deficiencies but also make the back four a stronger and more cohesive unit because every player understands the role to the player next to him seeing as how he has spent at least some time in that role.


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Texas junior cornerback A.J. White has announced he plans to transfer at the end of the semester.

White received his unconditional release after playing two seasons in Austin. The DeSoto, Texas, native played in 17 games for the Longhorns, and he recorded six tackles in 11 games last season.

"I decided to transfer because I felt like I needed to get a new start," White said in a statement. "I want to give thanks to Coach [Duane] Akina and Coach [Mack] Brown for everything they've done for me here.

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