Earlier this week Tom Herman and his staff released their first depth chart of the year for the game against Maryland, and while there weren’t many surprises this time around there are still some things to discuss before the Terrapins roll into town.
Lets take a quick glance position by position on how the Longhorns will jog out onto the field this Saturday to kick off the Tom Herman era at Texas.
1) Shane Buechele
2) Sam Ehlinger
My Take: No surprises here. Along with having game experience under his belt, Buechele did nothing to hurt himself in the eyes of the coaches this offseason. Ideally Ehlinger would redshirt and carry a clipboard this year, but that’s not going to be in the cards with the depth chart being light. Whether it’s in a package of plays or mop up duty, it’s expected Ehlinger will be on the field this fall. Worth mentioning again that Jerrod Heard is the emergency quarterback if it gets to that point this fall.
1) Kyle Porter OR
2) Chris Warren III
3) Kirk Johnson
My Take: This smells like running back by committee, unless a guy proves he be trusted to be the feature back. The positive news here is that Johnson is listed on the depth chart and is healthy headed into the season opener. Health is going to be the key for this group, as each guy has been banged up and missed time at one point or another. Cross your fingers and pray for a clean bill of health for these guys. If injuries become an issue, Toneil Carter and Daniel Young are the next guys up.
XWR (Outside WR)
1) Collin Johnson
2) Dorian Leonard OR
3) Lorenzo Joe
My Take: This is Collin Johnson’s show. Everyone is expecting big things from Johnson this year and he is going to have plenty of opportunities in this offense to put up numbers. Leonard has proven to be a solid option and is capable of making big plays down the field, while Joe is a max effort guy who has proven to be a solid blocker.
HWR (Slot WR)
1) Reggie Hemphill-Mapps OR
2) Lil’Jordan Humphrey
3) Armanti Foreman
My Take: Few things here. Devin Duvernay not being listed here means he’s been moved to the outside, Hemphill-Mapps performance leading up to this week has earned him a spot atop the depth chart, and Humphrey moving to the inside is intriguing to say the least. Hemphill-Mapps’ route savvy and ability to get open underneath has made him a desirable option here, while Humphrey’s size can be used to his advantage from here both as a receiver and a blocker. Foreman coming in a third validates that he has underperformed this offseason and has been passed up by younger guys.
ZWR (Outside WR)
1) Devin Duvernay
2) John Burt OR
3) Jerrod Heard
My Take: There isn’t much mystery to Duvernay’s game at this point in the game. He’s going to be used to take the top off a defense and the staff will put defensive backs in tough positions to have to stay in front of him. Behind him, Burt and Heard looked to be locked into a battle for snaps. Both were said to be having solid camps and both have the skills to be more than capable players if they are able to put it together.
1) Garrett Gray
2) Cade Brewer
My Take: As expected, the options are slim here with Andrew Beck out for the year and Reese Leitao sitting out the first two games. Kendall Moore should also be available for the staff, but it has been said he is more of a blocker than a pass catcher. It will be interesting to see how this position is deployed this Saturday.
1) Connor Williams
2) JP Urquidez
My Take: Not much to discuss here. Williams is your cornerstone on the offensive line, and while Urquidez is listed as the backup, I would expect Derek Warehime to do some reshuffling before putting him out there.
1) Patrick Vahe
2) Alex Anderson
My Take: No surprise here either. Vahe has been a solid run blocker since arriving on campus and it has been said that he is improving as a pass blocker, which would further solidify the left side of the line.
1) Zach Shackelford
2) Terrell Cuney
My Take: Barring injury, Shackelford is going to be the man here and if Shack does get banged up then Jake McMillon will most likely slide over to center. I don’t expect Cuney to be a contributor unless disaster strikes at this spot.
1) Jake McMillon
2) Patrick Hudson
My Take: McMillon emerging last year was one of the more pleasant developments and he will continue to be a valuable piece upfront due to his versatility on the interior. Hudson has continued to come along and his physical tools will allow him to contribute if called upon.
1) Tristian Nickelson OR
2) Denzel Okafor
My Take: Arguably the biggest question mark on the entire depth chart is at this position. While Nickelson is a max effort guy and a hard worker, he has still proven to be a liability. Okafor is the more talented of the pair and has more upside, but he is still young and needs to firmly take ahold of the starting job. If I had to guess, I would say that Okafor eventually takes over as the season wears on and he continues to get more reps.
1) Chris Nelson
2) Ta’Quon Graham OR
3) Jamari Chisholm
My Take: No surprise with this group with Nelson getting the starting nod while being backed up with Graham and Chisholm. The staff has been raving about Graham since his arrival on campus, so I expect him to get his feet wet early, and Chisholm has been a nice surprise despite arriving much later than the rest of the class.
1) Poona Ford
2) Gerald Wilbon
My Take: Fresh off of being named a team captain, Ford is going to anchor the interior along the defensive front and will be spelled by Wilbon. While Ford is a known commodity at this point and sure to receive majority of the snaps, I want to see Wilbon take the next step forward in his development.
1) Malcolm Roach OR
2) Charles Omenihu
My Take: Roach is the hell raiser up front that will no doubt receive plenty of attention, but the staff sees Omenihu as a starting caliber player as well hence the or designation. Both players should get plenty of snaps this year.
1) Naashon Hughes
2) Jeffrey McCulloch
My Take: Is this going to be the year that Hughes puts it all together and breaks out? He has all of the physical tools that you want, but it hasn’t translated to production to this point. With McCulloch already showing promise, it’s now or never for the senior linebacker.
1) Anthony Wheeler
2) Breckyn Hager
My Take: Wheeler didn’t take the next step many expected him to last year, but buzz around him has been positive since the new staff rolled into town. Hager’s placement at Mac raised a few eyebrows given his ability to rush the passer, but Herman has said they plan on putting him in a position to play to his strength in sub packages.
1) Malik Jefferson
2) Gary Johnson
My Take: Probably the most discussed and debated portion of the depth chart right here. There is no way to sugarcoat Jefferson’s down year in 2016, and now with a very talented Johnson behind him there won’t be as much wiggle room for not being dependable. This will be a group to keep an eye early on, as I expect there to be a healthy competition that plays out into the season.
1) Kris Boyd
2) Davante Davis
My Take: No surprises here. Boyd has solidified his spot at the top of the depth chart at this corner spot and will be looking to improve on his success from last year. Davis is looking to rebound after hitting rock bottom in every way imaginable last year.
1) DeShon Elliott
2) Jason Hall
My Take: With Hall missing time due to injury, Elliott made the most of the reps and has put himself firmly in the starter spot. Elliott has begun to show the talent and ability that made him a highly sought after recruit. When you go over the middle, you better make sure you keep your head on a swivel and that chin strap buckled.
1) Brandon Jones
2) John Bonney
My Take: Jones is yet another highly sought after recruit that seems to be taking the next step. The pair of Jones and Elliott at safety is every Texas fans dream since they arrived on campus. Bonney proved to be a versatile piece in the secondary last year and will no doubt fill in the gaps as necessary.
1) Holton Hil
2) Josh Thompson
My Take: Hill is another guy looking for a bounce back year. Off the field issues plagued him last year and he found himself in the doghouse most of the year, but he now has a new lease on life and is trying to make the most of it. Thompson got a little banged up during camp, but he showed up in phenomenal shape and ready to play this year. I can’t wait to see him get his feet wet.
1) P.J. Locke
2) Antwuan Davis
My Take: Locke is Mr. Dependable. He might be the hardest worker on the team and he really started to make a name for himself last year despite the secondary as a whole struggling. Davis is a guy that would probably be pushing for starting reps at any other school in the conference and will provide solid depth in a league that loves to toss the ball around.
1) Joshua Rowland
2) Mitchell Becker
My Take: Herman made it a priority to go get a kicker as soon as he arrived and Rowland will be the one to trot out there for field goals. He doesn’t have the strongest leg, but as long as he can be reliable from 40 and in Texas should be in fine shape.
1) Michael Dickson
2) Jack Geiger
My Take: “The Punter” aka Michael Dickson was arguably the best punter in all of college football last year. He will be a heck of a weapon once again this year for Texas when it comes to the battle of field position.
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