Image via Star-Telegram
For a lot of you fans this is the first big step to football season officially beginning, as fall camp began today for Texas. Just over one month before Tom Herman trots his team out to take on Maryland in the season opener and a lot of the questions going into that game should be answered during fall camp. I’ll get to some of those questions in a little bit. But here is your full preview for the start of fall camp.
There has been some news recently in regards to some recruits and a transfer getting into school before camp begins. Here’s what I know right now, Grad transfer TE Kendall Moore has graduated from Syracuse and should be out there barring any holdups. WR signee Damion Miller is still working on some academic things before he can join the team.
I don’t think we’re going to have to wait until the day of the season opener to find out who the starting QB is. As everything I’ve heard over the offseason is that this is Sophomore Shane Buechele’s team. And that Tom Herman would love to redshirt true freshman Sam Ehlinger. But with only 2 scholarship QB’s that very well might not happen. Buechele isn’t the elite athlete that Herman has had under center at some of his previous stops. Though I’d make the case he’s a better passer than all of those guys. And people will find that out soon if they don’t know already.
In the Spring game, true freshman Toneil Carter was the only healthy scholarship RB. Chris Warren dealt with injuries last year and dealt with the mumps over the off-season. Will he come into camp in shape and look like he’s the #1 RB on the team? Or he come in 250+ pounds and open the door for others? That guy could be Sophomore Kyle Porter, I was told he was the hardest player to tackle in the Spring. And if he adjusts to the speed of the game in 2017 I think he could emerge as the #1 guy. And what about the injury-prone Kirk Johnson who could be the most explosive RB on the team? Or true freshman Daniel Young who one person inside the program called the “sleeper of the 2017 class”? Quality depth is key here.
WR coach Drew Mehringer has the Top 3 receiving yards leaders from 2016 and 7 of the top 9 back in 2017. 6’6 Sophomore Collin Johnson has more NFL potential than anyone on the offense outside of Connor Williams. Now will he show that in 2017? Will Devin Duvernay use that legit 4.4 speed and become a top slot WR in the Big 12? Armanti Foreman has all the tools to be a #1 WR but hasn’t been able to put it together after a really good freshman season in 2014. Can he finally do it now that he’s a senior? Does John Burt regain his 2015 confidence and can Jerrod Heard find his groove at WR since making the move from QB? The talent is undieniable at WR, but so are the questions. One guy you CANNOT overlook is RS freshman Reggie Hemphill-Mapps. He’s more quick than fast, but flashed a lot coming out of the slot in the Spring and could be a safety blanket for Shane Buechele.
Tom Herman has stated that the TE is the second most important part to his offense as a receiver and a blocker. When is the last time Texas had some one who could do both of those things at a high level? I really believe that Caleb Bluiett will be missed as an H-Back in the run game. If they can get Kendall Moore up to speed he could fill that role, but he’s not much of a pass catcher. I’m not sold on Andrew Beck as being a great blocker or receiver. True freshman Reese Leitao and Cade Brewer could very well end up being the top two pass catching TE’s from Day 1. The main question will be, are those two physically ready to play a lot in 2017? I’d keep my eye on Leitao…
The majority of the offensive line seems pretty simple heading into fall camp. As Connor Williams, Jake McMillon, Patrick Vahe, and Zach Shackelford all look like starters. That’s if they stay healthy, which has been a huge issue for Shackelford in his first year in Austin. Outside of Williams at left tackle and Vahe at one of the guard spots, I’m very interested to see how Derke Warehime fills out the OL. Does McMillon start at center and Shackelford at guard due to Shack’s injury history? I say that because it’s easier to plug someone else in at guard. Then there’s the question at RT. Is it going to be senior Tristen Nickelson or sophomore Denzel Okafor? I know most people would like Okafor to lock that spot down but don’t count out Nickelson at all. I’m also curious to see if Jean Delance or JP Urquidez get a shot at RT, and one of them will backup Connor Williams at LT. I also heard some talk of Zach Shackelford trying out RT (where he played in HS), and letting Denzel Okafor and Patrick Hudson duke it out for the other guard spot. I don’t see that happening though. The bottom line is that there are a lot of different ways Derek Warehime could go with the starting 5.