Texas Football: Final Fall Camp Stock Report

Taylor Gaspar@Taylor_GasparFeatured ColumnistAugust 21, 2014

The Texas Longhorns are wrapping up the first fall camp of the Charlie Strong era, and the team seems confident of the product it will put on the field.

At least that's the case on one side of the ball.

Strong addressed the depth chart questions Thursday and stated that the defense is settled. However, the offense may still be a work in progress.

"On offense, we're still trying to piece it together. But on defense, we know exactly where we sit," Strong said Thursday. "You look at our offensive line, we're still shuffling it there. We still have not made a decision just yet on the complete five. When you look at the wide receivers, we're still trying to fill that position."

It should not entirely come as a surprise that the offensive line and wide receiver positions are not settled. Offensive line coach Joe Wickline has repeatedly expressed that the line will change week in and week out throughout the first half of the season.

Texas' depth at wide receiver took a hit when Strong dismissed Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander earlier this month and when senior wide receiver Jaxon Shipley was sidelined with a hamstring injury the first day of fall camp.

But one concern for the Longhorns is when Shipley will be able to return to the team.


Injury Update: Shipley Still Not Cleared

The most veteran receiver on the roster has not practiced since the first day of fall camp. No timetable was set for Shipley's return after he sustained a hamstring injury on Aug. 4, but for him to not be participating in practice could be cause for concern for Texas fans.

Hamstring injuries are not something new to the senior receiver. Shipley sustained a hamstring injury in fall camp last year but was cleared in time to kick off the 2013 season.

Will that be the same case for him in 2014?

That question remains unanswered.

"I don't know if it's worse than the injury he had last year. It's not so much the injury, but he just hasn't had the reps at practice. It's about being game-ready because he hasn't been in the practice mode. It's just a matter of him going out there and running those routes," Strong said. "We need to get him back. I don't know if he's going to be at full speed in game one."

If Shipley is not ready for the Longhorns' first game of the season, the offense will likely have senior John Harris, junior Marcus Johnson and redshirt freshman Jacorey Warrick as the starting wide receivers against North Texas.


Strong Commends Quarterback and Running Backs

It is not all negative for the Texas offense. Strong gave junior quarterback David Ash a rave review, saying Ash has had a great fall camp.

Strong named Ash as the starting quarterback at Big 12 media days and has not once faltered on his decision.

After being sidelined for the majority of the 2013 season due to recurring concussion symptoms, Ash has taken the leadership reins for the Longhorns offense.

"I feel very calm and very relaxed out there. It's not my first rodeo," Ash said of his leadership role. "You have to keep working. Turn every mistake into fuel to make you want to get better the next day. Everything you do well can grow your confidence and make you keep doing it over and over again."

Being named the starter helped Ash's confidence. But it also helped the confidence that his teammates have in him.

"David is taking control. That's the thing that stands out to me," senior running back Malcolm Brown said. "If somebody messes up, he'll put them in their place and just roll with it. He is taking control. He showed it last year, but it's just a little bit more now."

But Ash is not the only offensive player Strong commended Thursday. Brown and Johnathan Gray were also praised for their fall camp performance and their work ethic.

"It's so fun to watch those guys go out and practice. They work hard each and every day," Strong said of Brown and Gray. "They have so much respect for one another. I don't even know if it would matter with them who's the starter because they know they're going to get their touches and the reps that they need."

Strong has not discussed how the offense will split the reps between Brown and Gray, but both running backs have shown the ability to be difference-makers on the field.


A Fair Shot for All Longhorns

It is not very common for Division I programs to feature walk-on athletes on the two-deep, but that is not the case for the Longhorns.

Walk-on safety Dylan Haines has caught the attention of the Texas coaches and is expected to see playing time next week.

"Some guys were blessed with the ability where they were given a scholarship, but look at the job that Ty Templin and Dylan Haines are doing for us now. They come out there and go to work each and every day, and they don't get the credit they deserve," Strong said. "When they have the chance, they're going to get the opportunity to play, and you feel comfortable playing them. Dylan is going to line up next week at safety and he knows what to do."

Haines first caught the attention of the coaches during spring practice, but the public may not have known who he was until the spring game, when he intercepted a pass from the first-team offense on the first drive of the Longhorns' Orange-White Spring Scrimmage.

"He came out in spring ball and really showed up," defensive backd coach Chris Vaughn said of Haines. "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's accountable. All of those things kind of spilled over."

Haines is battling with true freshman Jason Hall for the starting safety position, but keep an eye out for No. 44 when the Longhorns take the field next Saturday.

With all things considered, Strong has spoken confidently about his team and has displayed little doubt that this team will be able to compete against anyone on the schedule.

Is his confidence just coachspeak, or will the Longhorns surprise many college football fans this season?

Only time will tell, but the final countdown has officially begun.


Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

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


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