Texas Football: Which Spring Stars Will Make an Impact on Texas' 2014 Season?
Springs stars are just that. They look like good players against their own teammates or in drills, then come back to earth when wins are on the line.
Like most programs, the Longhorns have had their fair share of spring stars who never followed through. (John Harris, anyone?) This spring brought its own crop of such players, with one main difference.
The arrival of Charlie Strong means every player gets a fresh start. Given that chance, players like Josh Turner and Taylor Doyle have stepped up to make an impression. For others, such as Caleb Bluiett and Bryson Echols, the simple circumstances have afforded them the opportunity to grab a vacated role.
No matter the how or why, six Longhorns enter summer conditioning already on their way to making an impact in the regular season.
S Josh Turner
Josh Turner started only three games as a junior in 2013, and he entered the summer in danger of ending his career as a backup.
One of the nation's top recruits in 2011, Turner has been unable to find a consistent role at Texas. He has just five starts as an undersized safety, alternating between making big plays and disappearing completely. As a classic example, he recorded six tackles and recovered a fumble against Texas Tech last season only to throw up straight goose eggs the following game against Baylor.
Because of this uneven production, it seemed almost inevitable that Turner would get passed over by Adrian Colbert, a bigger safety who better fits Strong's mold for the position. Instead, it is Turner whom Strong praised throughout the spring, which the senior followed up by forcing two turnovers in the spring game.
This is a player who has taken the coaching change as a second chance to prove himself. He will start, and he looks like Texas' best safety for better or worse.
G Taylor Doyle
With the left tackle and both guard positions open, the assumption was that one of 2013's top-rated recruits in Darius James or Rami Hammad would ascend into a starting role as redshirt freshmen. Junior Taylor Doyle, a 3-star recruit, beat out both of them.
After playing in all 13 games last season, Sedrick Flowers is a no-doubter to start. His experience places a hold on the left guard position, leaving just one spot for several capable bodies.
Out of nowhere, Doyle emerged from the sprawl after appearing in just two games for his career. He started the spring game ahead of the talented redshirts, which at least means he will be a regular member of the rotation.
Even if he gets jumped this summer, Doyle is going to contribute.
DE Caleb Bluiett
Junior Shiro Davis looks like the next man up on the side opposite Cedric Reed. Caleb Bluiett will be right behind him.
Bluiett had one of the best defensive performances of the entire spring game, recording two sacks and deflecting a pass at the line. He started one game last season when Jackson Jeffcoat was playing the spinner role, moving back from tight end to do so.
At 6'3" and 264 pounds, Bluiett has the size and a motor that stood out to RosterWatch's Alex Dunlap. Those are traits that will get him on the field regardless of whether he starts. And, with a strong finish to the offseason, it's entirely possible he could.
CB Bryson Echols
Because Texas failed to land an impact corner in its 2014 class, Echols and Antwuan Davis will have to be able to hold their own when called upon. They are the position's only backups to go through the full offseason. Aside with Sheroid Evans, who recently returned from his ACL injury, per The Daily Texan, they are also the only non-starting cornerbacks who have any game experience.
In that regard, Echols was found money for Texas so long as his spring wasn't an aberration. The Longhorns need him to play well, or else they may have to turn to a walk-on.
LB Demarco Cobbs
Strong stuck to the traditional 4-3 alignment in the spring game, and he has the front seven to deploy it in the regular season as well. He has, however, always shown a proclivity toward the 3-3-5 package that he helped popularize.
This grouping needs a player with the size to make plays in the box along with the speed to play coverage. For Cobbs, a 225-pound linebacker with 4.58 speed, per NFLDraftScout.com, that position is a straight path to ending his career with a bang.
After spending all of last season on the shelf, the fifth-year senior busted out with eight tackles in the Orange-White Scrimmage. With his range and size, that could become a regular occurrence during the season.
WR Jacorey Warrick
Watch the above video, then try to think of a reason why Jacorey Warrick won't shred some ankles this season.
There is talent ahead of Warrick, especially in the form of Swiss Army knife Daje Johnson. But more of a pure receiver than the enigmatic Johnson, Warrick's the type of player who can turn a typical checkdown into a home run.
Between the 20s, Texas doesn't have four receivers worth fielding ahead of that sort of ability. Expect 20 to 25 catches out of Warrick this season, with a couple of breakaway scores sprinkled in. Also look for him to contribute in the return game.