Breaking Down Texas' Latest Depth-Chart Moves Midway Through Fall Camp

Taylor Gaspar@Taylor_GasparFeatured ColumnistAugust 11, 2014

A Texas longhorn flag is carried across the field during the first half of an NCAA college football game against the Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl  Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
Brandon Wade/Associated Press

Texas football is entering only Week 2 of fall camp, but there are a lot of questions that remain unanswered for the Longhorns in head coach Charlie Strong's inaugural season in Austin. 

Strong and his staff are diligently working to figure out which rotations will work for the Longhorns, and it's a task that has not been solved in just one week.


Offensive Line

Offensive line coach Joe Wickline is often regarded as one of the best O-line coaches in college football. And he has his work cut out for him this season.

Aside from center Dominic Espinosa, all of the positions are still being battled for on the line. But that is just the way Wickline likes it.

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 1: Dominic Espinosa #55 of the Texas Longhorns lines up against the Wyoming Cowboy defense on September 1, 2012 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Cooper Neill/Getty Images

"There's going to be a lot of shuffling in camp, especially if you're trying to develop a new offense and trying to put in new schemes, new techniques and fundamentals and you're trying to figure out what you have on hand," Wickline said. "We're going to move guys pretty often until we find the right combination."

The tackle position seems to be in better shape than guards, but nothing is set in stone just yet.

"Particularly at the tackle position, we have some things that we think are good and some things that we need to work on," Wickline said. "We have some young players and some guys who have some experience, but as a whole, we're not ready to call practice off yet."

Junior Kennedy Estelle and senior Desmond Harrison have been discussed as potential starting tackles. Sophomore Kent Perkins is a guy who can play both tackle or guard but is still trying to learn the offense and the fundamentals. And guard Sedrick Flowers has shown the talent to possibly nab a starting role.

But with all things considered, Wickline has remained consistent in saying each linemen's job is up in the air with every practice.

"This is kind of a different deal for some, but there are no permanent spots on the line until well into the season," Wickline said. "There are some ideas. I understand about chemistry, I understand about continuity and I also understand that we would like to know who's going to be playing at right guard and what jersey number he's going to be in every game. But at the end of the day, that's not important. What's important is did you get your best five on the field and did you block the opponents."

Projected Offensive Line Starters
Dominic EspinosaSeniorCenter6'2"308
Desmond HarrisonSeniorLeft Tackle6'8"313
Kennedy EstelleJuniorRight Tackle6'6"285
Sedrick FlowersJuniorLeft Guard6'3"320
Kent PerkinsSophomoreRight Guard6'5"330


Wide Receiver

The Longhorns have two of the receiver roles secured with senior Jaxon Shipley and junior Marcus Johnson. But Shipley's recent hamstring injury and the loss of Montrel Meander and Kendall Sanders has allowed for other players to show what they can do for the Longhorns young receiving core.

Michael Thomas/Associated Press

Wide receivers coach Les Koenning knows he has two starters in Shipley and Johnson, but he is watching for the younger players to step up and take some meaningful reps in fall camp.

"We have got to get the number of reps for those kids so they can be successful," Koenning said. "It's not really a first- or second-team thing. We know Marcus is first. We know Shipley's first. We know that. But we're going to move those kids around so they can get an ample amount of reps, so they can be successful."

Sophomore Jacorey Warrick is one receiver who has made a name for himself among Strong and the coaching staff. Warrick saw limited playing time during his true freshman season, but he has caught the attention of his coaches and team throughout spring and fall practice.

"Jacorey Warrick has done a really good job now," Strong said. "He has been working really hard at the wide receiver position."

The Longhorns also have junior Daje Johnson as an option at receiver. At times, Johnson has proven he can be one of the most explosive players on the field. But he has also been in Strong's doghouse and will be suspended for at least the season opener, if not more, for violating team rules.

Eric Gay/Associated Press

"We're playing him at the inside receiver and the outside receiver," Koenning said of Johnson. "He's really made a big difference. He's always been the type of guy who would move from the inside slot to tailback. Now we have the ability to play him in the outside lane as an outside receiver. We've been direct with Daje. We have told him what we want and what we expect, and if he cannot do it, we will find somebody else."

Strong signed five talented freshmen wide receivers in the 2014 class. Although they are gradually learning the system, the transition to college has not been easy for some.

"The transition from high school to college has been tough for some of them," Koenning said. "In high school, they're the stud, they're the guy. Now they come to us and there are a bunch of guys there. So you really have to show what you can do because you're competing for a position."

There are a lot of ifs that follow the wide receiver's this season, but the positive note for Texas fans is the Longhorns have the numbers to fill the position.



AUSTIN, TX - NOVEMBER 16:  Mykkele Thompson #2 of the Texas Longhorns intercepts a pass intended for Marcell Ateman #3 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys during a game at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Safety could be a position of concern for the Longhorns. Senior Mykkele Thompson will likely get a starting nod due to his amount of experience, but who will play opposite of him may still be up for debate.

The Longhorns have two viable options in junior Josh Turner and sophomore Adrian Colbert. However, Turner was one of three players who will be suspended for at least one game this season for violating team rules. And Colbert saw limited playing time last season.

One player who has been making a name for himself is walk-on defensive back Dylan Haines, who is also the son of former Texas and NFL defensive tackle John Haines.

Haines first caught the public's attention during the Longhorns spring game when he picked off Tyrone Swoopes in the first-team offense's first drive of the game. But Haines caught the eye of the coaches before the spring game.

"He has done a good job. He came out in spring ball and really showed up," defensive backs coach Chris Vaughn said. "We didn't know much about him prior to spring ball, but he made some plays and showed he could be tough. He runs well; he is accountable. So, all of those things kind of spilled over. We have some young guys who are trying to learn, and here is a guy who kind of came out of nowhere."

Vaughn also made it a point to say if he was a starter, he would take Haines' progress as a challenge to step up his game.

"If I was a scholarship guy, I would [take it as a challenge]. The one thing about our staff is it doesn't matter where you are or what you play. If you are a good player, you are going to play."

As it stands, the safety position is probably still up for grabs. But it would not be a surprise if the position gets shuffled around a bit before the season begins.

There are a few positions that are filled and will likely stay that way until the start of the season. It has been clear that the quarterback position is David Ash's to lose, and his backups are nowhere close to taking the gig from Ash.

The same could be said for the running backs. Senior Malcolm Brown and junior Johnathan Gray have secured the No. 1 and No. 2 roles for the Longhorns, respectively. However, how they will split the reps is to be determined.

One thing is for sure: Strong and his staff have their work cut out for them and not a lot of time to figure out how to once again make the Longhorns a college football contender.


Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's featured columnist covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow her on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.


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