Texas Football: 5 Freshmen Who Will Make a Huge Impact in Fall Practice
The Texas Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class has its obvious strengths and weakness.
The 'Horns may have secured a huge future with dual-threat quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, who has already slotted himself as the No. 3 on the depth chart.
Furthermore, Texas landed what appears to be three first-year offensive linemen who could have an impact within the next two seasons.
In contrast, Texas failed to pick up a defensive line commitment after losing the verbal pledge from consensus 5-star defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson.
However, the Longhorns have to believe that they landed some true difference-makers during a crucial time in the Texas program.
Texas comes into the 2013 season as one of the most experienced teams in the FBS, meaning the opportunities for freshman contributors is slim.
But there are opportunities.
Whitewright, Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes has already turned heads since he enrolled in January and took place in spring camp.
The 6'5", 230-pound dual-threat quickly nailed down the No. 3 spot on the depth chart, trailing incumbent David Ash and senior Case McCoy. McCoy, however, is in the midst of a 10-week absence while abroad on a mission trip, leaving a heavy dose of reps for the true freshman Swoopes.
Already a legitimate threat with his legs, Swoopes will have to turn some more corners in his passing game, and many expect him to snatch the backup job from McCoy at some point and see some hopefully meaningful snaps this year.
Unfortunately for McCoy, his time is simply running out. With Swoopes all but the heir apparent after Ash departs, the opportunity to thrust the true freshman into some significant moments may just be the kind of scenario to help foster growth for the future.
Defensive backs coach Duane Akina is known for playing his young players if they are up to scratch.
Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs are a pair of veteran players who went through those rigors as underclassmen, and now they are undoubtedly the top two contributors in the secondary.
Bastrop, Texas cornerback Antwuan Davis has several of the tools necessary to make that early impact. Although the Longhorns' secondary seems pretty solid after losing just a single player from a season ago (Kenny Vaccaro), Akina is always searching for ways to get his guys some exposure.
Listed at 6'0", 180 pounds, Davis has the size, speed, ball skills and physicality to press into the two-deep, but his potential for early contributions is heavily connected with how well guys like Sheroid Evans, Leroy Scott and Bryson Echols progress into the year.
If the circumstances remain status quo at wide receiver, there is no reason why freshman Jake Oliver cannot make an early impact.
With huge size at 6'4", Oliver has route running and ball skills to complement his work ethic. That combination can easily generate a situation that has Oliver supplanting veterans like Bryant Jackson, John Harris and Miles Onyegbule, but the right pieces will need to fall into place.
Considering that the receivers corps is aching for consistent performers outside of Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis, the three incoming receivers will need to seize the opportunity despite the overwhelming numbers at the position.
Center Darius James may be the most college-ready player in Texas' 2013 class. And combined with the short stick at the position, with just Dom Espinosa holding down the fort without much security behind him, James could get the early look to see how he holds up.
In fact, fellow offensive line newcomers Kent Perkins and Rami Hammad have the look of the maulers that the Longhorns have been missing up front. But with Espinosa having his inconsistencies through his two seasons of full-time starts, James may present a comfortable second option down the road.
If there is an offensive lineman who will have that early impact, apart from junior college transfer Desmond Harrison, James has to be the front-runner there, especially with so much experience coming back elsewhere.
Given the numbers coming back, it seems unlikely that Deoundrei Davis will be able to assert himself as an impact candidate early on at linebacker.
But given the numbers coming back, and their 2012 concerns attached to them, Davis' length and movement may just be what the Longhorns need at the position.
Davis' potential at this point remains about as unclear as the 2013 outlook at linebacker.
Texas returns every linebacker to its roster for the upcoming season, meaning the inexperience that hindered the rest of the defense turns into experience. For Davis, that means the window to slip into two-deep contention is quite slim.
However, if the group suffers similar fates early in the season, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Manny Diaz may opt to go younger.