November 27, 2008

Inside the Locker Room

Q: (doctorgrg) - Why do our receivers seem to take so long to develop at UT when other programs seem to have a bunch of receivers functioning at a very high level as freshmen, and for sure by their second years? It's seems to be the exception when we have a starting receiver doing well until at least his third year in the program. Is the reason the type of receivers we recruit or is it the coaching?

A: I think like so many others issues that a program can sometimes face, there's really not just one answer to this question. Remember when the Longhorns couldn't get any hot-shot quarterback prospect to sign with them? Well, it wasn't because Greg Davis had issues, as much as it was a combination of bad luck, a couple of questionable decisions and the presence of Vince Young.

With the receiver position, I think we can look at the last four recruiting classes and see that there's some good and bad. Let's look at the last five recruiting classes, which have all been trained under the watchful eye of Bonny Kennedy.

2004: This was supposed to be the wide receiver class that solved whatever riddles this position might present, as the team signed five top-rated prospects and another athlete in Ramonce Taylor that was offered with the thought he might end up there as well. When it was all said and done, the position went two for five. George Walker was a flat out four-star bust, while fellow four-star Myron Hardy had talent, but not the discipline needed to stay in school. Another member of the five-man group (Chris Ogbonnaya) barely lasted five minutes at the position before he was moved to another position. The two players from this class that did make impacts were Nate Jones and Jordan Shipley. Both players were guys that offered promise as immediate impact players and both had to fight through injuries before eventually reaching their promise.

2005: The Longhorns signed only one wide receiver and his name was Quan Cosby. Keep in mind when tossing around the development issue that Cosby was half-a-decade removed from the sport when he returned and the last time he had suited up in a uniform, he was playing in one of the smallest classifications in the state. When you consider that he's been a four-year impact performer, this one has to be considered nothing less than a home run for everyone involved.

2006: This is a class that really hasn't worked out at all, but what else is new with the most disappointing class in school history. The Longhorns signed three players in this year and two of them haven't been good enough to crack the two-deep at any point in their careers and another (Josh Marshall) was moved to tight end. Of those two, one was a converted running back (Phillip Payne) and another was a raw prospect from a very small classification (Montre Webber).

2007: The Longhorns rebounded from the mess in 2006 the very next year with a three-man class that was stripped of another prospect (John Chiles) because of a commitment to another position. Of that group, Brandon Collins and James Kirkendoll saw snaps on the two-deep last season, and along with Malcolm Williams (who redshirted in 2007), all have made impacts on a national championship campaign in their second seasons.

2008: It's an amazing number, but the Longhorns signed six players that either ended up at wide receiver or where scheduled to end up there. That number took a hit this summer when Antoine Hicks wasn't able to get into school, but that still left Dan Buckner, D.J. Grant, Brock Fitzhenry, D.J. Monroe and DeSean Hales coming into the position. Of that group, all but Buckner have redshirted.

Overall, if we look at the 2004-07 classes, you'll find that the Longhorns signed 12 receivers. Six of the players from that group have been significant contributors and/or have made immediate contributions before the end of their sophomore season. Out of the next six, three are busts, two moved to other positions and another flunked out.

That makes the position about a 50-50 proposition, which doesn't seem out of the norm. I think the bigger issue that you might have is that not enough players are developing into NFL talents in comparison to some other positions in the program. At the end of the day, Kennedy seems to be doing a solid job in getting the players that can play on the field rather quickly, and a case can be made that the number should be seven out of 12 because Hardy was on his way to playing a lot as a sophomore before his career got away from him.

Q: (bb4831) - I know this was asked many times during the Lufkin/Cy Ridge, but I never saw any response. The question was "were there any Texas' coaches at the Lufkin/Cy Ridge game"? If so, who was there?

A: The Longhorns have had coaches at several Lufkin games this season, but there was not a staff member on hand for the Cy Ridge game.

Q: (Texas8891) - There has been a great deal of speculation on the time table for Will Muschamp's eventual succession of Mack Brown since he was designated as the Head Coach in Waiting. Yet, there has been far less discussion of Greg Davis' plans. How much longer do you see him staying as the OC and who appears to be a legitimate replacement? Do you see Coach Brown and Coach Davis as a package deal: they step aside at the same time?

A: That's a great question and it will certainly be an interesting storyline to follow as this situation develops. My gut instincts tell me that Davis will probably depart with Mack Brown, but I'm not sure that he'll be doing so to retire. Davis is a coaching lifer and he's in his prime right now when you consider the last five years at Texas have represented his finest work. While Longhorn a segment of the UT faithful might be tired of Davis, there would likely be a line a mile deep waiting to talk to one of the nation's top coordinators and developers of quarterbacks if he was I the market for a job. If Davis were to leave Austin any time in the next couple of years, current running backs coach Major Applewhite would be under serious consideration to replace him, but this profession is so unstable that it's more than fair that any guessing at this particular stage would be just that - guessing. If Muschamp is smart, and I know that he is, he'll give serious consideration into trying to persuade Davis to stay for a while because I have a feeling that 2009 commitment Garrett Gilbert might end up being his final masterpiece. In my mind, Gilbert is the prospect that Davis has been waiting his entire life to get his hands on.

Q: (JDANMILLER) - I know Mack doesn't like to run the score up on anyone or embarrass the opposing team, but this seems to be at odds with his campaigning for a higher Texas ranking in the human polls. With "style points" being so important to the voters, do you think Mack will deviate from his usual practice of calling off the dogs when the game is in control? That assumes we are in a position against A&M where we are in complete control, which is something I expect to happen.

A: I think everything is fair game through the first three quarters of the game, no matter what. However, when the game gets into the fourth quarter, look for Brown to pull back like he always does is very comfortably in control. Brown has too much respect for the opponents to embarrass them to the benefit of something he'd probably find unethical.

Q: (MTerry00) - There have been rumors with Major Applewhite's name linked to various head coaching jobs around the country in the last few days...any truth to any of these? He's extremely young for a head coaching spot, and still would be if he didn't take a head coaching gig for another 10 years.

Also, what do you think about the "45-35" campaign started by the OB community? Have you seen anything like this before? Letter86 posted that the team has caught wind of it, and is extremely pumped up, but didn't get too specific...have you heard anything about it from the team?

A: Applewhite's name has been rumored with a number of new openings and I don't think anyone doubts that he's going to eventually have some chances, but the question is if he bites on a hook soon, what kind of job is he really getting? It's the million dollar question and I'd guess that he probably sticks around Austin for a few seasons unless he's wowed by another situation, which would probably include opportunities to be a coordinator at a high-profile job.

As for the "45-35" campaign, all I can say is that I've stopped being surprised by the Orangebloods community a long time ago. Whether it's raising money for a little girl or helping out complete strangers with hurricane relief, this collection of Longhorns represents something bigger to me that just a simple message board clan. Hell, we nearly raised enough money to buy Bullet Bob Hayes a tombstone a couple of years ago before his family stepped in and ask that we not get involved. As for the school, I think they are probably a little nervous about a potential backlash from someone taking it too far, but I love the spunk that you guys possess. No, there's nothing you guys can't do when you organize and commit your mind to something. History has proven that to be true time and time again.

Q: (BuschLeague) - Phillip Payne sure looks like an imposing specimen but for whatever reason can't get on the field. Will he ever play linebacker?

A: I'm a little puzzled at this kid's situation because he was recruited, in part, because he was versatile and could play multiple positions. But, here we are three years into his time at Texas and he just seems to be buried at wide receiver. Can he be a good linebacker? Who knows? That being said, he needs to walk into the coaches office in the near future and ask for the chance because he's drowning at the receiver position and might not know it. The kid is too good of an athlete to simply not give it them "ol' Henry Melton" try.

Q: (uthooked88) - First, I had a sort of an epiphany earlier this week when I was thinking about our recruiting class. I am one of the fans that had great hopes that this recruiting class would be top 3 in the nation, and perhaps even the # 1 recruiting class. Now, it appears that we will probably be outside the top 5; however, I can't really spot very many areas where our staff dropped the ball in recruiting. I think that they should have given Shep a chance to compete at QB, and we should have found a way to land at least one of the elite safeties in this class. Let's say we landed Russell Shepard, JaMarkus McFarland and Craig Loston, which are the players we are interested in (not Michael or really Brent), do you think that would've landed us in the top 3?

Second, before the season, I was preaching to all of my friends that Texas would win at least one National Championship between the 2009 and the 2011 seasons. I figured that 2009 would be our best shot with Colt McCoy as a senior, Vondrell McGee as a junior (I figured he'd be far better), and our O-Line & Linebackers finally reaching their full potential. The question is, do you think that I will be proven right or wrong? I mean, we may lose Sergio Kindle, Vondrell has not had anywhere near the season we all hoped he'd have, and the O-Line and Linebackers haven't exactly been dominant in every game. Colt coming back gives me great hope but what do you think?

Third, how long do you think Mack Brown will coach? I know he is saying he has a lot of football left in him, but what is your gut telling you?

Finally, what do you think of Obama's upcoming first term? Do you think he will get us out of this Economic mess? Do you think him bringing up the need for a playoff system in College Football has moved us closer to such a system?

A: Yes, I think if Texas landed three more five stars in this class, they'd probably finish in the top three in the nation. That would give them five if you believe Garrett Gilbert keeps his fifth star and Alex Okafor gets a bump up in the next rankings.

Second, there's no way of predicting the future, but I expect the Longhorns to be serious national championship contenders in 2009 and they will likely be after that time frame if Gilbert is the player that I think he's going to be.

Third, if I was a betting man, I'd say circle 2009-10.

Finally, I think the next four years are going to be wildly provocative in terms of what we do as a nation, especially in trying to tackle the financial mess that resembles me at my 2004 Christmas party. A bed full of vomit is probably the best way to describe the current situation when you think about it. I'm in favor of the investment into infrastructure and I'm hopeful that projections of several million jobs being created as a byproduct comes to fruit. Outside of that, it's hard to know what all of it means - now and in the future. As for the BCS, I don't think the good old boy network of college presidents is going to care what the president thinks if they don't care about the opinions of tens of millions. It is what it is.

Q: (Texas Diesel) - I've always laughed along when people mention "The Mack Brown Curse" but want to throw something out there and get your opinion on it. Could it be real? I ask this because I have spoken to several people over the years as well as read many accounts on Orangebloods about how people that have met Mack are so taken with him they can see why the program has had the success it has. For a 17 year old kid to not be equally taken with his endearing nature and then choose to look elsewhere, could that indicate an issue with them that, later on, results in problems for them which could prevent them from reaching their success? I know there are the Adrian Peterson's that were still extremely successful but there have also been the RP's and the D. Scott's (though it is early with him) that never seem to "get it". I ask if it could be real very tongue in cheek because I don't believe in curses but wonder if this has become what seems like one due to other personal issues.

A: Here's the deal - the head cases become Mack Brown curses and the guys that are hard workers, keep their heads on straight and stay healthy usually end up just fine.

For every Rhett Bomar, there's a Tommie Harris. For every Ryan Perrilloux, there's a Martellus Bennett. For every Darrell Scott, there's a D.J. Williams. I think the most important thing that can be learned and I think this is where Mack Brown has enjoyed his biggest moment of clarity since arriving at Texas - he understands that head cases are head cases and not he, Sally Brown or anyone else can change that. Therefore, he just doesn't want them any more and it seems to have created a football environment that he's looking for.

Q: (Golfpr3145) - I was just thinking about our LBs after the next year. Is there a big chance that Muschamp will go out of state in search of linebackers since Texas has not been much of a hotbed for great linebackers in recent years? If so what are some of the names that would come to the forefront for 2010 campaign?

A: Write these names down - West Chester, Ohio's Jordan Hicks, Dallas Skyline's Corey Nelson and Cedar Hill's Aaron Benson. It might end up being as simple as that.

Q: (DKM) - Ketch what are the chances that Texas land these 10 guys on the first junior day?

Reggie Wilson
Corey Nelson
Ahmad Dixon
D.J Jones
Darius Terrell
Rashad Favors
Traylon Shead
Dominic Espinosa
Taylor Bible
Darius White

A: I'll do this on a scale of 1-10, with one representing not a chance in hell, a five equaling a fair shot, a seven equaling very strong and a 10 standing for a, "Book'em, Danno!"

Wilson - 8
Nelson - 7
Dixon - 10
Jones - 9
Terrell - 9
Favors - 10
Shead - 7
Espinosa - 8.5
Bible - 5
White - 10

Of that group, I feel certain that Wilson, Nelson, Dixon, Jones and White will get offers. I think there's a very goods chance that Terrell, Favors and Bible gets offers. I'm not sure if Shead will get an offer as a running back, especially if Jones comes into the fold.

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