Texas Football: Grading the Longhorns' Post-Spring Depth Chart
The Texas Orange-White Scrimmage is now in the books, leaving us with a post-spring depth chart that fans should be comfortable with as the team gears up for the summer.
For the most part, the Longhorns close spring football on a positive note across most positions. The receivers, defensive line and linebackers are all good to go for next season thanks to returning depth and reliable starters. Those spots are set for the foreseeable future.
Quarterback and running back are hurt the most by the absence of top players. David Ash missed the spring game and will be out until the fall, making Tyrone Swoopes the only true quarterback on the roster until Jerrod Heard arrives in June. The same goes for the running backs, who are awaiting the returns of Johnathan Gray and Joe Bergeron, as well as the enrollment of Donald Catalon.
Though the offensive line is dealing with an injured starter of its own, starting-caliber talent and quality depth are beginning to emerge. This group struggled in Saturday's spring game, but the foundation has been laid for Joe Wickline to work his magic.
All told, the only positions that graded out poorly and have the least positive outlook are tight end and the secondary. And the latter still has Quandre Diggs.
N.B. Starters will be represented in bold lettering, with backups being listed in descending order. Players that were injured, suspended and/or did not play in the spring game were not included on this list.
David Ash missed the spring game with his foot injury, so he will be left off this depth chart until he returns in the fall. Until then, Texas has no reliable depth whatsoever at quarterback.
Tyrone Swoopes played a solid spring game after his abysmal 2-of-9 start to the afternoon. The sophomore settled in the rest of the way, completing 15 of his last 21 passes to finish with 229 yards and three touchdowns. He was maddening at times, but his 44-yard touchdown to Jaxon Shipley says everything you need to know about his potential.
What hurts this position's grade is that the Longhorns are in dire straits if Swoopes goes down. Former tight end Miles Onyegbule is an emergency option at best, which isn't any sort of an endorsement for third-stringer Trey Holtz.
Running Backs: C+
The running back situation is similar to the one at quarterback—talent at the top, lack of experienced depth, help on the way.
The difference is Malcolm Brown, who will be an All-Big 12 runner this season. His 20 carries went for 82 yards and a touchdown, adding 26 yards and another score as a receiver. He showed no remorse in hammering whatever teammates got in his way and will only get better as the offensive line sorts itself out.
Overstreet also had a solid game, but he still lacks the power to be a reliable ball-carrier between the tackles. Putting his 22-yard burst on his first carry aside, it's clear Overstreet is merely a situational back unless he can play heavier than 215 pounds.
Wide Receivers: A
Wide Receiver (X)
Despite his 11-yard receiving day, Johnson will be Texas' top outside receiver this season. Behind him will be redshirt freshman Montrel Meander, a speedy 6'3" receiver who delivered the catch of the day with a twisting toe-tap on the sideline for 30 yards.
Wide Receiver (H)
There is just ridiculous depth in the slot, and Texas is going to find a way to keep all three of these guys involved. Putting up 95 yards and a touchdown on six catches, Shipley is ready to be the Longhorns' No. 1 receiver as a senior. Daje Johnson turned some heads with a 42-yard touchdown on a Hail Mary, highlighting his growth into a more well-rounded receiver. He and Warrick are two of the most dynamic talents on the team.
Wide Receiver (Z)
Consistency has been an issue for Sanders, who gained just 10 yards on his three receptions. Shipley has the skill set to move outside if needed, which means Sanders could get bumped in favor of Daje Johnson or Warrick. John Harris caught a 22-yard touchdown in the spring game, but don't expect much from him during the season.
Tight End: D
While Greg Daniels out, Geoff Swaim and Blake Whiteley were Texas' lone tight ends in action. The former was impressive, but we need to see more from this group before any optimism is warranted.
Swaim, the returning starter, served primarily as a blocker last season and offered almost nothing in the passing game. On Saturday, the senior caught two tough passes for 25 yards, which would have both been career highs in an actual game.
Whiteley had one catch for two yards, so Swaim remains the guy, and his improvement will be worth monitoring this summer.
Offensive Line: B
The injury to Kent Perkins shakes this group up quite a bit, and his return will in all likelihood push Darius James back to guard and Desmond Harrison out of the starting lineup. The Longhorn defensive ends had their way with this group, but there is way too much talent for that to be the norm this season, especially when Perkins returns.
For now, Doyle holds the edge over Hammad for the other guard spot opposite Sedrick Flowers, who is just about untouchable. This would be the big surprise given that Doyle has only played in two games, but the absence of third-year sophomore Curtis Riser is downright shocking. On a positive note, Alex Anderson has done well to break into the second team as an early enrollee.
Espinosa is the lone senior up front and will be the leader of this group from the center position. At 279 pounds, Raulerson needs to beef up this summer if he wants to see any meaningful action this season.
Defensive Line: A
Coming off of a 10-sack season, Reed is a lock for All-Big 12 honors as a senior. Davis spent a lot of time in the backfield in his audition for the other starting spot, though Bluiett made a much bigger statement with two sacks and a team-best eight tackles. In all, this will be one of Texas' deepest and most productive groups.
Brown and Jackson each dominated their matchups throughout the game, combining for 11 tackles with one apiece for a loss. They will form one of the top duos in the conference, backed by the explosive Hassan Ridgeway, who had an 11-yard sack in the first quarter. Not a lot of bodies here, but they're talented.
This position is in an odd position given the uncertain status' of Kendall Thompson and Deoundrei Davis. Jinkens returns as the starting strong-side linebacker, with Tim Cole on the weak side. Cole failed to make a tackle in the spring game and will have a hard time holding off Jordan Hicks and Cobbs, who tied for the team lead with eight tackles. Hughes, a 6'4" redshirt freshman, chased Tyrone Swoopes all over the field on Saturday and is the name to watch here over the summer.
Edmond is back in the middle after barely missing an All-Big 12 selection in his breakout junior season. Santos will be the backup—his lack of speed limits his ability to help out elsewhere.
Defensive Backs: C-
Diggs and Echols save this group with great games on Saturday. Miles Onyegbule never once tested Diggs, and Echols broke up three passes in coverage for the second team. That said, Thomas probably remains the starter even though he looked lost on Montrel Meander's 30-yard reception.
Turner and Thompson each recorded interceptions, appearing to be the starting safeties for the time being. Take their performances with a grain of salt because neither had to tackle Malcolm Brown. Colbert is still a work in progress, letting the smaller Daje Johnson come down with a Hail Mary right in front of him.
Russ punted three times for the first team in the spring game, averaging 43.3 yards per boot and placing two inside the 20. Davidson averaged slightly more distance, but this is Russ' job.
A kickoff specialist for the duration of his career, Rose was the only Longhorn to attempt a field goal in the spring game and will replace Anthony Fera in that capacity. Jordan was the top placekicker as a freshman in 2012 but connected on just 60 percent of his attempts.
The former Green Beret and fan favorite will once again be the long snapper in his final season as a Longhorn.
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