Texas Football: Best Quotes and Key Takeaways from Big 12 Media Days
It was more of the same from Strong on his first media day as Texas' head coach, continuing to drive home his core values and goals for the team. But Strong also offered some news, officially naming David Ash as his starting quarterback and announcing the return of suspended tailback Joe Bergeron.
Cedric Reed, a late addition to Texas' lineup, also offered a big announcement of his own that should cheer up Longhorn fans.
But if you missed all of that, catching up with everything that Diggs had to say is a must.
Reed Cleared of Any Wrongdoing
Reading the tea leaves, it could have only meant good news when Texas added Cedric Reed to its media day lineup on Monday, per Horns247's Jeff Howe. The star defensive end confirmed as much when he broke his silence in Dallas.
"I'm cleared," the preseason All-Big 12 pass-rusher told reporters when questioned about his alleged dinner with agent Justin Bingman. "I know that's out there. I didn't have anything to do with that thing."
Though Steve Edmond, Desmond Jackson and Jordan Hicks are still in hot water, this is great news for Texas fans. Losing Reed, one of the better ends in the country, for any stretch would have left Texas' rebuilding defense without its most impactful player.
Now Reed can focus on improving the mid-round draft grade he claimed to receive at the end of last season.
Bergeron to Return Following Suspension
The Longhorns finished the spring with just one member of its three-headed, ball-carrying monster on the active roster. As Strong told the media today, the wayward two are each all set to participate in fall camp.
During his moderated press conference, Strong confirmed that Joe Bergeron has been reinstated. "He'll
be back in the mix, has done everything we've asked him to do, not only academically but just
showing up doing those little things," Strong said about his senior power back.
Strong suspended Bergeron near the end of spring practice for academic issues. His absence and Johnathan Gray's recovery from a ruptured Achilles left Texas with just Malcolm Brown and journeymen on the roster.
Now, as reported by CBS Sports' Jeremy Fowler, Gray is set to lace up his cleat. The former will split carries with Brown after averaging almost 87 rushing yards per game last season, while Bergeron and his 25 career touchdowns will assume the short-yardage role.
Ash Officially Named the Starter, Battle Continues for Backup Job
Avoiding any sort of a controversy entering fall camp, Strong named David Ash his starting quarterback on Tuesday.
The move was expected now that Ash has been cleared to return from a Jones fracture in his foot. The redshirt junior is the only Longhorn quarterback who has ever started a game in college, much less thrown a touchdown, and will have a lot to do with whatever success Texas enjoys this season.
The real battle will be for the backup job behind the brittle starter. "There's going to be competition in that position," Strong said, referring to sophomore Tyrone Swoopes and freshman Jerrod Heard.
Swoopes has more experience, but Heard will not be taking a backseat to anyone during his four years. Expect him to claim the No. 2 job before too long, which could easily translate to a starting role given Ash's history.
Strong Business as Usual
From a football and philosophy standpoint, it was more of the same Strong at his first Big 12 Media Day event.
Strong is tough, straightforward and demands that everything be earned. He was once again asked about Texas' national championship timeline, to which he responded, "The place that I won it at we never talked about going and winning a national championship," referring to his time as Florida's defensive coordinator.
We already knew all of this about Strong, who continues to harp on his players gaining respect for the Hook 'Em sign. "Where we throw up our hook 'em, it's going to mean something to us."
As expected, that was as far as Strong would go. He admitted he would like to see more YAC ability from his receivers, along with some better pass protection, on the offensive side of the ball while seeming mostly content with his defense.
But for anyone hoping to glean anything about Strong's defensive alignment or any other strategic tidbits, we're going to have to wait until the season begins.
Diggs as Quotable as Ever
In the past, the head coach saying something like, "We're not as bad as we used to be," would be the head-turner of the day. Strong had that to say about his team, but it was nothing compared to what cornerback Quandre Diggs dished out.
Like it or not, it's clear that Diggs has adjusted to and adopted his new coach's personality in rapid fashion. "I want to help him weed people out," Diggs said. Later, in an interview with the Austin-American Statesman's Brian Davis, Diggs further elaborated:
No negotiation. There’s no negotiation. What’s there to negotiate about? You’re a player. They offered us to come here. That’s just how it is. You come to the University of Texas, they pay for your school, pay for your dorm. There shouldn’t be any negotiating.
Perhaps the simplest way to put it, in Diggs' words, "It's a new Texas." And he's ready to lead it.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotations courtesy of Big12Sports.com.