July 23, 2011

The Ticket City Locker Room

Q: (swalsh100) - Are there any current or former longhorns that were standout high school wrestlers? As a former high school wrestler myself, I know the skills this sport requires (strength, balance, technique) can be a huge advantage in many of football's one on one challenges, whether it's on the defense getting past blockers, or on offense keeping defenders at bay. Some stand out NFL stars that were champion wrestlers are: Jeff Bostic (State Champ), Chris Cooley (State Champ), Roddy White (2x State Champ), Carl Edwars (3x State Champ), Ray Lewis (2x State Champ), Warren Sapp (State Champ), just to name a few.

Name the next longhorn offensive and defensive linemen that will go in the first round of the NFL draft.

A: I thought about this for a good while and couldn't think of anyone on the team with a wrestling background. I even asked Texas SID chief John Bianco and he also didn't know of any. High school wrestling is big in so many other states, but it lags behind in the state of Texas, quite obviously.

As for your last question, I'm not sure the first round pick is on campus right now. Trey Hopkins projects as an interior lineman at the next level and those guys don't typically go in the first 32 picks. Therefore, I'll go ahead and go with the top tackle in this class - Kennedy Estelle. Over on the defensive side of the ball, I'll take Jackson Jeffcoat.

Q: (Longhorns8484) - Why are y'all so quiet this off-season? It seems like there are way less updates and rumors this year? Are y'all scared to post stuff this year after what happen last year (false hype and expectations) or is there nothing going on? I would think we would here more updates on 7 on 7's and the off season work outs with Wylie.

A: I'm not sure that it's been a quiet off-season in terms of reporting, as we've continued to have updates on workouts and off-season progressions throughout on a weekly basis. There has been less outright detailed reporting on seven-on-seven workouts on a daily basis because the privacy of these practices have been made a priority and whereas just about anyone could walk up and watch them at any time in the past if they wanted, we've been told this summer about numerous secluded workouts with security standing by. In that same vein, the problem with isolated practice reports is that the sample size is simply too small to draw any huge conclusions from. There is certainly info to be gained, but the sum of all parts at the end of this month is what matters.

Take my words as assurance that there isn't in timid thinking in our reporting and allow me to suggest that your memory of last year's reporting is slightly off-balance. While my own personal expectations for the team, and obviously Garrett Gilbert, were high for the season, there were a lot of signs that things weren't going perfectly and the actual reports from the 7-on-7 workouts last fall painted a picture of both sides of the ball of a team that had some work to do. In fact, more times than not the defense was getting the best of the offense, but it was being chalked up to the fact many expected the UT defense to be elite going into last season, even without Earl Thomas… a mistaken notion. There was a lot of "blah" to be seen and it was quite discussed at times, although not everyone could quite figure out what it meant for the coming season. In fact, one of my last reports in August last year was from a source that warned everyone to not have high expectations for Gilbert and challenged me on my predictions for the season.

Q: (dropshot_7) - Do you feel like scheduling a blockbuster out of conference game (ie: Ohio State in 05) would keep the team sharp during the offseason, and assist in fighting complacency? Do you feel like that is part of the reason other teams (OU) do it?

How do you expect the team to look in game 1 against Rice?

I was reading the stuff on Mike Leach today, and was thinking how cool it would be to see Manny Diaz's defense match up with Leach's O. So with that in mind, what's your top matchup, coaching-wise, this upcoming season?'

A: That's an interesting first question. There's no doubt that the match-up against Ohio State seemed to help the 2005 team dial into a mentally sharp unit way before the first game was played, but the 2006 team had Ohio State and a looming No.1 vs. No.2 showdown in front of them and there ended up being a lot of senioritis on that team in the summer before the season started. While Colt McCoy was gaining separation over Jevan Snead that summer, a lot of the older guys kind of mailed it in in terms of a true commitment. I think it really comes down to the type of leadership you have within the coaching and players in any given year that decides that stuff

Secondly, I expect the Longhorns to remind us all of their pedigree in that game against the Owls. A rough draft of their final product for sure, but also a wildly athletic and talented roster in a lot of respects. A reminder of what the program can be is what I expect to see.

Finally, the Boise State vs. Oklahoma rematch in the Cotton Bowl will be fun - Bryan Harsin vs. Bob Stoops.

Q: (thisspaceforsale) - I'll keep this short and (not so) sweet. Gaping holes on the OL, an open question mark at QB and zero depth at DT. Is a .500 season next year the bar for this team?'

A: Hell no.

Q: (hornjbob) - The offseason, where we either spend most of our time outside, reminisce the triumphs and faults from the previous season or talk story lines heading into the upcoming one. You've certainly seen your fair share of offseason story lines which brings me to my question. Give me your top 5 off-seasons since OrangeBloods was created and why. I'm talking position battles, coaching and/or recruiting drama or just big time anticipation for the next season.

A: 1. The anticipation of the 2005 season is something I'll never forget. There was a buzz that entire summer and the confidence oozing from those in the program was contagious. A program that had sniffed its potential, but never quite grabbed it by the throat, was finally on the cusp of greatness.

2. The 2010-11 off-season and the two months of roller coaster action within the coaching ranks that consumed it. Thinking back about everything that went down from late November through February makes me almost believe that it was all a dream. It couldn't have all happened. Davis gone. Muschamp gone. Akina gone. It's Austin. Hey, there's Paul Chryst. Jerry Gray was hired and then bailed a few weeks later and then Akina returned? Say what? Again, that didn't all happen, right?

3. The off-season following the 2003 Holiday Bowl for its absolute ugliness. This was the Mack Brown era at its low-point. This was his sixth year in and they were as clueless at times in this campaign as they were in 2010, except the talent level was better. The mood of the fan base was toxic.

4. Just out of the medal stand is the 2009 off-season with all of the anticipation of the rematch against Oklahoma following the BCS screw-job in 2008.

5. Finally, the first full year of the site was right in the middle of the Simms/Applewhite wars, so… yeah.

Q: (red dog1) - The site keeps getting better and better. Keep up the good work and let's get the Horns back in Championship form.

I'd like to know how the perceived strengths of the Horns 2011 team and 2012 team assuming no attrition from 2011 to 2012. What will the key losses for our opponents be for 2012? Seems some of our opponents will have talented seniors in 2011 and will be replacing them in 2012. (OK State QB, ou WR Broyles, will L Jones go pro, ags QB, Baylor QB?).

Seems we are positioned to return key players in 2012 and our opponents will be missing some key pieces that might help 2012.

Thank you for your site indeed!

A: This is a pretty easy one for me if we're keeping the discussion strictly to the personnel. Offensively, the Longhorns have some incredible young talent at the wide receiver position, which for me easily represents the biggest strength on that side of the ball. Defensively, the speed and playmaking ability of the linebackers and edge players is what gives the defense a chance to be a big-play unit.

If we're talking about key departures among Texas' top competitors, here's a quick breakdown of the top names:

Oklahoma: WR Ryan Broyles, TE James Hanna, LT Jarvis Jones, DE Frank Alexander, LB Travis Lewis and K Jimmy Stevens. If Landry Jones has a huge season, he could be an early NFL entry candidate, as shocking as that is for me type. Overall, the Sooners are a pretty young team.

Texas A&M: QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Cyrus Gray, WR Jeff Fuller, OG Evan Eike, DT Tony Jerod-Eddie, NT Eddie Brown, LB Garrick Williams, CB Coryell Judie and S Trent Hunter.

Oklahoma State: QB Brandon Weeden, WR Justin Blackmon, OT Levy Adcock, OG Lane Taylor, S Markelle Martin, S Johnny Thomas and P Quinn Sharpe.

Q: (alistairwlewis) - - We have seen a lot more out of state recruiting this year than I can remember - not just for the war daddies, but for others as well. Is this more Mack tweaking his philosophy in branching out of state to try and recruit more nationally, or more allowing his new coaches to be aggressive with some of the guys they had established relationships with already from their previous jobs, or a combination of both?

Also, do you see this trend continuing in the future? Finally, let's say we get any combination of Peat, Theus, Davis, Agholor, Smith, Brooks, and Collins. Would it be a first come first serve with the scholarships left, or do they make room for any number of those guys if they committed?

A: I think it's a combination of the things you described and if the Longhorns can just get a little taste of success, I think Mack Brown's commitment to the out of state process might continue to forge forward. With all of the out of state names that you mentioned, I would assume there's a spot for them until the bitter end if they wanted to come, but I think it'll be imperative that the recruitment not take on the form of a circus.

Q: (lpohl) - Do you see any underclassmen making a significant impact at any position on defense this year? If so, who? D-Line, linebackers, and secondary?

A: Up and down the line-up. Pretty much the entire pass rush is going to come from guys like Jackson Jeffcoat, Reggie Wilson and Alex Okafor - all emerging players who still have multiple seasons of eligibility remaining. Obviously, the health of the defensive tackle position hinges on the development of young players. Meanwhile, the linebacker unit has a couple of guys in Jordan Hicks and DeMarco Cobbs that everyone is excited to see in action because of their potential. Last, but not least, you've got the defensive backfield with guys like Quandre Diggs, Carrington Byndom and Adrian Phillips to name a few.

Like I said, up and down.

Q: (weenhorn) - Assuming Garrett Gilbert gets the start at the beginning of the season, how much rope do you think the coaching staff will give him? Let's say he doesn't have turnover issues, but the offense doesn't score and/or we lose. Do they yank him? Who would be your replacement?

Also, I have a 2013 recruiting question. As of today, and recognizing there's a high school football season to be played, who are your first Junior Day offers as of now?

A: Your questions about the slack at the quarterback position are among the more interesting ones we have going into this season, especially in light of the 2010 season. My guess is that Mack's patience is short (no more than two games if the play is ragged) and we would then see the No.2 take some snaps. I'm still not sure who they would lean on in that situation just yet.

As for 2013 first-day offers, I'd say pretty much everyone in the current top ten of the LSR .

Q: (Golfpr3145) - Do you feel that the on-going investigations of possible major payoff infractions by several of the major programs and the Ohio State mess will actually pressure the NCAA to act in a timely manner to impose penalties on these violators? Usually the process by the NCAA penalizes kids that had nothing to do with what went on in the program. I think the kid who decommitted from Ohio State just might have been the best thing that could have happened.

A: I expect the NCAA to be the NCAA - inconsistent, at-times completely blind/clueless and 1,000% disappointing.

Q: (K2lwalsh) - This is the first time I have sent in a question, but the locker room is probably my favorite feature on the site.

Can you recall a class that has done as much recruiting amongst themselves as this 2012 class has? I know it's easier these days with social networking, but it seems to me that Connor Brewer[/db and [db]Cayleb Jones have really taken it upon themselves to make this class the best it can possibly be.

In all the years covering Longhorn recruiting, what player do you think did the most recruiting once they were committed? If it's not Connor, where would you rank him?

Finally, who are the two most talented recruits you covered over all the years that didn't make it? One from the offensive side and the other from the defensive side.

A: Glad to have you among the question-goers. Feel free to submit more in the future. The 2012 Longhorn commitment list has been very active, but I'm not sure that's incredibly more active than what we've seen in the past. One of the benefits of early recruiting/momentum is that you can build that kind of steam and the Longhorns have had active participants among its commitments for years. The fact that there's an out of state commitment at quarterback, along with numerous national showcase events this summer (a growing trend), has helped give the appearance of more work being done, but this has been a strength in the UT program for years under Mack Brown, going all the way back to his 1999 class.

As a matter of fact, that first No.1-ranked recruiting class under Mack in 1999 really sticks out in my mind because it helped create the momentum needed to finish off with Chris Simms and Cory Redding.

Among those that have been great commitment recruiters for Mack and Co. over the years include Chance Mock, Albert Hardy, Aaron Harris, Drew Kelson, Matt Nader, David Snow, Connor Wood and Chet Moss all come to mind.

Q: (Les Campbell) - I've got what probably sounds like a silly question as it relates to 7 on 7 workouts, but I'll ask anyway. Why do they go 7 on 7? At no point in an actual game of football (With the extreme exception of an eligible tackle) does the offense have 7 skill players involved in the passing game.

A: It's all about reps and team-building in my mind. Every single position amongst the skill players and back seven group on defense uses the reps from the competition to prepare for the needed mental adjustments (if nothing else) that will need to be made in the both the development of a strong passing game on offense and the ability to defend on defense. The physicality of these workouts might surprise you.

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