Texas Football 2012: 5 Players Under the Spotlight in Spring Practice
Texas is fully underway with spring practice, as they prepare for the spring game that takes place on April 1. Every time these practices are set to take place, we should always be looking for certain things—players who need to step up, or things for the team to do better with which they struggled last season.
Although the Longhorns have struggled the last few seasons, they are one of the more talented teams in the country. They return a total of 16 starters, and are hoping that this is the year they not only compete in the Big 12, but return to a BCS bowl. But in order to do that they're going to need players to step up this season and really fill in some of the weaknesses.
Here are five players who will be under the spotlight this spring for the Texas Longhorns.
TE M.J. McFarland
Texas may not throw the ball very much, but when they do, they need reliable weapons. Redshirt freshman M.J. McFarland seems to be that guy, as he has fantastic size at 6'6", 260 pounds, is very strong and is the ultimate red-zone target for whomever becomes the quarterback for the Longhorns.
So far in spring, he's even receiving a lot of praise from head coach Mack Brown.
"The reason he didn’t play last season was he couldn’t block," Brown said. "But we’re very impressed with what we’ve seen. He had a tremendous grade in the offseason."
He could really provide a great receiving option for this team if he continues the good work.
K Ben Pruitt
Nobody ever shows the kicker any love, but as we saw many times last season, they are very important members of any football team. Texas has issues in the special teams department, considering last year's punter and kicker Justin Tucker is no longer on the roster.
That now opens the door for redshirt freshman Ben Pruitt, who is known for his accuracy, but not so much his leg strength. If he can't get the job done, then things get really interesting as Texas just picked up Nick Jordan in this year's class, and he should be given every opportunity to earn the starting job as well.
This may not be the sexiest position battle this spring, but with so many young prospects, it's important Texas finds a kicker they can trust.
QB David Ash
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When your team is 86th in passing yards, you can bet there will be a quarterback battle on hand. Texas will watch David Ash and Case McCoy battle it out, but it appears that Ash is looking more and more like the starter. He played well down the stretch, including a solid performance in the bowl victory, and overall seems to be the more polished between the two.
Texas is an extremely talented team on both sides of the ball, but if they don't have a quarterback who can get the job done, the Longhorns will continue to struggle. Ash may very well be the starter heading into the spring, but has to continue making strides heading into the regular season.
WR Miles Onyegbule
Texas likely has their starters at wide receiver in Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis, but depth is always important in order to compete for a national championship. That's where Miles Onyegbule comes in, and he should have a huge impact on this Longhorns offense.
He only caught four passes for 51 yards his freshman season, but the guy is physically gifted. He's 6'4", 200 pounds, which already gives him a gigantic advantage over any cornerback or safety in the Big 12. He's able to beat jams at the line and is an athletic receiver who can go up and get it with the best of them.
He's not the fastest receiver in the world, but he can play football and should be used more this season.
DT Brandon Moore
There's a huge hole on the defensive line with Kheeston Randall moving on to the next level. That's where Brandon Moore may see a lot of time at defensive tackle to replace him. Moore is an absolute beast at 6'7", 335 pounds. He's a JUCO transfer, who was on the 2009 Alabama national championship team.
He's a fantastic pass-rusher and, at the very least, will draw double teams from the opposition. But don't just take my word for it.
"I watch pass rush every day, because I like to see the big boys getting after it," said safety Kenny Vaccaro. "And I've seen Brandon Moore just completely dominating on the pass rush side of the ball for us."
Moore could really do some damage in the Big 12 this season.