Texas Spring Football Practice: Updated Depth Chart
The Texas Longhorns will return to workouts Tuesday after a 12-day reprieve from spring football. Many players will resume the position battles which should create some buzz leading up to the 2013 season.
Some positions have already been sealed by a returning core of solid experience, while many others have rotations to fill.
Almost a month into spring ball, many have shown progress though some are losing some ground.
Here is a look at an updated depth chart leading up to Texas' Spring Game on March 30.
QB: David Ash, Case McCoy
The starting quarterback slot belongs to David Ash, and it is his until he loses it.
Ash is expected to make all the right developments as the Longhorns turn back to a spread offense, and the initial signs from spring ball are pointing that way. However, should Ash fail to demonstrate those progressions when the season comes around, Case McCoy has proven multiple times that he is a capable quarterback when called upon.
As a senior, McCoy will not have too many opportunities to improve his professional potential, but he presents a solid, veteran presence that knows how to win games.
Nipping behind McCoy are a number of youngsters, notably true freshman Tyrone Swoopes and redshirt freshman Jalen Overstreet, both possessing dual-threat qualities that make them intriguing projects for the future.
RB: Johnathan Gray OR Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron
Opposing teams will have to pick their poison in the coming season as the Longhorns maintain one of the most talented running back corps in the Big 12, but health has been a problem.
Sophomore Johnathan Gray excelled in his first season, inheriting the featured position with Malcolm Brown missing significant time for the second straight year.
However, with both of them healthy, they will be difficult to stop with such a diverse skill set and athleticism across the board.
Behind them will be Joe Bergeron, a very capable performer himself who could be reduced to a more specified role in the offense.
Nevertheless, the Texas running game should only get stronger this season as long as it stays healthy. Throw in Daje Johnson as the explosive option and the Longhorns will have plenty of options on the ground in 2013.
X: Mike Davis, John Harris
H: Jaxon Shipley, Bryant Jackson
Z: Kendall Sanders, Marcus Johnson
Tight End: Greg Daniels OR Geoff Swaim, M.J. McFarland
After Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley, Texas' top-performing pass-catchers from last season, the Longhorns have little else to show at wideout.
John Harris and Bryant Jackson have both battled some injury troubles, therefore seeing limited time. Yet, both have in strong spring performances before, warranting some chatter about their productivity heading into the season. Can they take the next step this year?
A departed Marquise Goodwin opens up the door for a young receiver to earn his worth, and it could belong to Kendall Sanders after Cayleb Jones had his hiccup with the law. Do not discount Marcus Johnson either, who has demonstrated the talent, but has yet to grasp the consistency.
At tight end, a position of incredible under-performance in recent seasons, Greg Daniels returns as the most utilized option from a season ago. Geoff Swaim enters the fold as a junior college transfer, but has not really exploded onto the scene. Nipping at their heels is the seldom used M.J. McFarland, who may have the best body for the job, but has not put together the right tools to earn the time.
LT: Desmond Harrison, Donald Hawkins
LG: Donald Hawkins, Trey Hopkins
C: Dom Espinosa, Garrett Porter
RG: Mason Walters, Trey Hopkins
RT: Josh Cochran, Donald Hawkins
Once again, the Longhorns will battle with some depth issues along the offensive line, but they do have a formidable six or seven bodies to rotate effectively.
Josh Cochran and Trey Hopkins are currently not participating in spring ball in order to nurse some leg injuries, but still hold important places in the depth chart.
Mason Walters enters his senior year as the voice up front, and the NFL should be watching him closely this season.
Elsewhere, Donald Hawkins played tackle for most of last season after transferring from the JUCO ranks, but he will slide inside to make room for another JUCO player in Desmond Harrison, who is now expected to come in immediately at left tackle.
Dom Espinosa has had a wealth of experience as a two-year starter, but behind him, the numbers and expectations are much less impressive.
Buck: Jackson Jeffcoat, Shiro Davis
Nose Tackle: Desmond Jackson, Malcom Brown
Tackle: Ashton Dorsey, Chris Whaley
End: Cedric Reed, Reggie Wilson
Jackson Jeffcoat comes off of pectoral surgery for the second straight season and will headline a salty group of bodies and athletes in the defensive front four.
Opposite him will be a heavily-utilized duo in Cedric Reed and Reggie Wilson. Wilson holds the seniority, but Reed has been a little more disruptive and consistent in his efforts.
Texas seems to be loaded with quality performers across the board up front, especially along the interior.
Expect a heavy rotation, and a thoroughly tinkered one at that, between Desmond Jackson, Ashton Dorsey, Malcom Brown, and Chris Whaley this season.
Do not sleep on a Hassan Ridgeway inside or a Bryce Cottrell outside.
Strongside: Peter Jinkens, Kendall Thompson
Middle: Dalton Santos OR Steve Edmond, Kendall Thompson
Weakside: Jordan Hicks, Kendall Thompson
The expectations at linebacker this season will be mixed.
After an awful showing throughout the 2012 campaign with inexperience running amok, Texas is expecting a strong turnaround now that its youngsters have gained some valuable time on the field.
Jordan Hicks returns to the lineup after missing ten games with a hip injury. His veteran leadership should be heavily relied upon this season, as youth is still very present at the position.
Tevin Jackson earned himself many props after a late-surge in performance last season, but a shoulder injury will keep him out for the rest of spring.
Peter Jinkens, meanwhile, looks to be the biggest benefactor with Jackson going down. Kendall Thompson, however, played significant minutes last season and should be the first linebacker off the bench.
At middle linebacker, the root of many of Texas' defensive struggles last year, Dalton Santos is pushing hard on Steve Edmond's starting edge that he had in 2012. With Santos' reporting some 21-pounds lighter, the sophomore could have a much bigger impact at linebacker in 2013.
CB: Carrington Byndom, Duke Thomas
FS: Quandre Diggs, Josh Turner
SS: Adrian Phillips, Mykkele Thompson
CB: Leroy Scott, Duke Thomas
Defensive Back University looks to continue its trend of top performers in the secondary, even with the departure of Kenny Vaccaro, a consensus Day One selection in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Otherwise, Texas returns three starters in the secondary.
At cornerback, Carrington Byndom leads the charge after seeing a drop in numbers last season. Still, the senior corner is tops on the team and will always tag the opposition's best receiver.
Opposite to Byndom, probably a result in a shift in personnel, could be Leroy Scott who has strung together a number of strong spring outings. Duke Thomas, a highly-touted performer coming out of high school, will be the first corner off the bench.
Quandre Diggs, perhaps the best athlete in the secondary, could very well make the switch to safety, a transition he has yet to fully embrace this spring. With Adrian Phillips settling in at the other safety position, that leaves Josh Turner and Mykkele Thompson sharing the rotation in the back.
Diggs will likely be Texas' nickel corner, giving Turner and/or Thompson some viable time to shine.
PK: Nick Jordan, Anthony Fera
P: Anthony Fera, William Russ
The quiet success from Texas' special teams a season ago was punter Alex King, who it will have to replace for the coming year.
On the contrary, the kicking game was less than impressive to say the least, with both Nick Jordan and Anthony Fera struggling to convert throughout the season.
With Fera having experience at both positions, it appears likely that he will slide into the punters role, leaving Jordan to handle the kicking duties.
Make no mistake, every player on the special teams depth chart is on a short leash.