April 30, 2010

The Ticket City Locker Room Report

Q: (Hornmonte) - 1. What is up with Ben Wells? Any chance of him redshirting?
2. Is there enough room to take another DT in 2011, or did Quincy Russell burn that bridge?
3. The LB class is closed, but if Anthony Wallace wants to be a Longhorn, do we find room?
4. What ever happened to Andre Jones and Jarvis Humphrey? Are they back in football?
5. Will D.J. Grant play and be back at full strength this fall?
6. How long does Blaine Irby count against our football scholarship allowance?

A: Let me begin by notifying everyone that your question was sent in one day before the announcement of Wells' transfer was released by the school's SID, so there's no need for flogging or public scorn. I only left the question in among the six submitted because I know a lot of people might have missed the news of Wells deciding to transfer.

2. Yes, I think there's room for a defensive tackle and I think the fact that the Longhorns haven't apparently moved on and away from Russell since his change of direction says quite a bit about how much they value him as a prospect. Given his declaration earlier this week that the Longhorns remain his current No.1 school and I think patience might be prevailing. With only a few spots left and with no other player on the radar for that remaining slot, there's no real need for rushing on this one and the coaches seem to be aware of that.

3. I think the answer is no on Wallace. From what I've gathered from my sources in the program, Will Muschamp views the trio of Kendall Thompson, Chet Moss and Steve Edmond as every bit the equal to Wallace, and with the linebacker numbers stretched as far out as Muschamp apparently wants to go, I'm guessing that the door on Wallace has closed. The last two linebacker classes represent the best one-two punch at the position that these eyes have seen covering this beat for nearly two decades, so there's not a real sense of urgency for need.

4. Man, I'm not sure what Jones is doing right now, but he washed out at UTEP and wasn't in their program last season. Humphrey was forced to retire from football because of a kidney condition.

5. Yes, Grant should be released for full contact in August, but it's tough to project how much of a contribution he'll make in 2009 with such a short amount of time to re-adjust before the season begins.

6. Let's all slow down on rushing Irby out the door because once the kid give waves the white flag, there's no going back. Therefore, while it might be unlikely that he returns, he deserves every opportunity to prove the doubters wrong. He'll count towards the scholarship limit until the day everyone agrees that he'll have to give up the sport and become a normal student.

Q: (bman25) - It's been said that the coaches want to take a work-horse every down back and a game-breaking lightning-in-a-bottle type. Presumably, Malcolm Brown would fit the first role if we get him, but what about the other role, especially if the coaches miss on Aaron Green. Is that type guy on the roster already on campus ? What about Quandre Diggs? He seems to be tough enough and explosive enough for that role, but do you think that's realistic?

A: From a recruiting standpoint, if the Longhorns miss on Green (but still land Brown), I think there is probably one of three different directions the Longhorns will take:

1. Re-evaluate Brookshire-Royal's Brandon Williams and make a run at him.
2. Re-evaluate The Woodlands' Daniel Lasco and make a run at him.
3. Close up shop at the running back position.

I know that some are probably wondering if Abilene's Herschel Sims would come back into play, but I just don't think he's going to be in Texas' plans. There was a time when I was sure that the Longhorns would jump all over Williams if they missed on Green, but I'm not so sure any more, especially after his commitment to Oklahoma. The commitment from Diggs certainly gives the Longhorns some options in this class because the coaches are excited about his potential upside as a running back, if they choose to use him on the offensive side of the ball.

From an on-campus standpoint, let's not forget that D.J. Monroe is still on campus and if he can stay on top of the academic side of things, he has a chance to be a huge weapon for this team through 2012. I've said this before, but sources I've spoken with that are close to the Alabama program believe that he was the one player that Nick Saban's staff feared the most coming into the national title game.

Q: (JimsTexas) - Ketch, I have a little different question for you. I remember years ago when you use to post on the other Texas sites and how excited everyone was when you would post your recruiting news. Did you own part interest in those old sites or were you just sharing your information? I remember how excited I was when you announced that you would be starting a Longhorn website and just look at the heights you have taken it to. Did you have any idea that the OB site would take off like it did? I don't know if the OB site is Rivals #1 site but it's close to the top. Weather your a fan are T-shirt fan (still not sure what that is) the OB site you started has become the place to go for those of us who love Texas athletics and wants to know what is going own. Thanks for the good work and Y'all have a good day

A: Ah, the good ol' days. In my infant stages of posting on Internet message boards there certainly wasn't any profit-sharing talking place. I was a poster just like the rest of y'all, but I obviously was trying to introduce myself to the industry and the work we were doing at the TV station in the way of covering recruiting. Everyone thinks that recruiting is advanced now, but before Mack Brown arrived at Texas, we used to interview visiting recruits as they left the team hotel, which means we had video interviews of breaking commits like Adam Dunn and Quentin Jammer, but we also had interviews of players like David Warren, Roylin Bradley and Leonard Davis when nobody else could reach them. I'd like to think our little contribution helped pave the way to destroy the 900-number madness that used to dominate the landscape.

When I left television and joined Rivals in 1999, I made the move to take over as publisher of Heisman.com and LoneStarRecruiting.com, but it didn't take long for me to realize that the real financial opportunities that existed in this business were in the form or college team site publishing. Therefore, when the opportunity arrived for me to own and operate the Texas site in the Rivals network, I never hesitated or looked back.

FYI, I would call myself a fan, let alone a t-shirt fan, but contrary to public myth I did attend UT from 1995-99.

Q: (jthhorn00) - 1. Can you give a detailed explanation of the Jamarkus McFarland recruitment? While it was going on, at first I was thinking he was a LSU lock, and OU had no chance, but obviously that wasn't the case. I just never got the feeling he was coming to Texas. What was going on behind the scenes?

2. Who was more potential... Mason Walters or Christian Westerman?

3. Any chance Walters steals the RT job from Britt Mitchell?

A: I think the easiest way to explain the recruitment was that McFarland and his family got carried away with the entire recruiting process and I think there was a ton of entitlement that took place, especially when you hear some of the details of his Texas visit. It was an oil/water relationship by the end and it got ugly because the McFarland family made it ugly. Only they can answer why they decided to go in the directions they went, complete with the rubbish that was the New York Times Christmas Day commitment article.

As for your second question, I'm going to go with Westerman because he doesn't have the health issues that Walters is facing. If all things are equal, it's a coin-flip for me.

Finally, if Walters is healthy, I think all bets are off in the offensive line competition because he's probably the most talented lineman in the program, but there are a lot of question marks about his future and I get the feeling the staff will error on the side of caution.

Q: (dropshot_7) - Let's pretend that something crazy happens and Muschamp has to take over the responsibilities as the offensive coordinator. How would he be? He's stated in the past that he's fond of a pro-style attack. I find it hard to believe that, as imaginative as he is on defense, that he'd be completely vanilla as an OC. What do you think he would be like? Assuming all goes as planned and Muschamp takes over the reins as Head Coach at Texas, do you think that we'll have to worry about the NFL taking him away?

Looking at the offense next year and the move to a more downhill running game, do you see it as an opportunity for some of the RBs to get a fresh start? I've felt that Vondrell McGee (DUI notwithstanding) has been a poor fit for the spread that we ran with Colt. I think he is a great fit as a straight ahead runner. Fozzy ran out of the I-formation in high school as well, and Cody Johnson is clearly a better downhill runner than a spread back. Do you see anybody resurrecting their career from the RB spot next year?

I know you're high on Sheroid Evans as a CB. What are his cover skills like? Who does he compare to? Does he have the hips?

A: You're asking me how well I think Will Muschamp would fare as an emergency offensive coordinator? My guess is that he's probably do as well as Greg Davis would do as a defensive coordinator. As far as the NFL is concerned, I think you have to walk before you can run, which means we need to let Muschamp have a taste of head coaching success before we start projecting an NFL team making him the next Pete Carroll.

Your question about the running backs is one of the million dollar questions for the program heading in to the fall. My gut feeling is that we're not going to see a massive and sudden performance surge by any of the upperclassmen on the roster. Therefore, no, I don't think we'll see McGee, Whittaker or Johnson emerge as a front-line running back this season.

Finally, Evans' cover skill will probably need some fine-tuning because he hasn't been able to commit himself to the position thus far, but he has all of the physical tools and he's flashed that skill-set in front of the Texas coaches at their summer camp. I'm talking hips, size and incredible speed/athleticism. From a physical standpoint, he's a slightly taller version of Edorian McCulloch, but without the off-field baggage.

Q: (BurtHorn) - With Colt McCoy in Cleveland, what would be the picture perfect layout for him to take that team to the top in years to come? Who/what would be available in next years draft to help him and the team grow? Any free agents after this season that would positively impact the Browns? Who would be the best head coach for Colt and the Browns?

Bonus: Dublin Dr. Pepper or regular Dr. Pepper?

A: The Browns have more needs than they could possibly fill in one draft class or sinle phase of free agency, so it's going to be a little bit of a process when we talk about rebuilding and it will likely take several years. That's good for Colt, who would be best-served to learn the nuances of the game without the pressure of a 300-pound monster breaking his back in two because he's on a bad team.

In my mind, a nice target timeframe would be the 2012, which would give him two seasons of apprenticeship behind Jake Delhomme and allow the Browns a couple of years to build up their franchise. They've got one of the best young tackles (Joe Thomas) in football already in the cupboard and they addressed some major defensive back issues in the draft, but this is a team that's still a couple of years away - just like McCoy. On the offensive side of the ball they need more playmakers, period. As far as the head coach question is concerned, Eric Mangini gets another year to prove that he's the long-term answer, but the smart money has Mike Holmgren bringing in an offensive-minded guy from his coaching tree at some point, possibly as soon as 2011 if the Browns struggle as a team in 2010.

Bonus: I've never had Dublin Dr. Pepper.

Q: (Horns a Plenty) -1. Could you open your bottle with the Genie in it (not the Jim Beam) and ask him for four or five wishes for the remaining spots in the 2011 class. Then tell us who you wish for and what he had to say!

2. Also we have already heard of two players who are transferring out (and good luck to them wherever they go), but have you and your staff heard of any other transfers or other losses the roster might have for the upcoming season? Names are not necessary.

3. Do these reductions mean more slots for the 2011 group or is 24-25 the number?

A: I asked for Malcolm Brown, Aaron Green, Quincy Russell, Josh Turner and Charles Jackson, but the Genie told me I shouldn't have wasted my wishes on something that could be granted so easily, with most occurring with or without his help.

Second, yes, I still think there could be a name or two that emerges as a transfer candidate before the start of fall drills.

Third, I think the staff would prefer to keep the number close to 23, but if the worst problem that they have is that every target they desire wants to play for them, they'll find a way to make it work.

Q: (SouthPaugh) - A. We all know how important leadership is for this program and the impact (or lack of impact) it can have (contrast 2005 to some of the teams that lacked real leadership). Now that Colt, Shipley, Cosby and Kindle are gone, who are the leaders of this team? Who has stepped up since the National Championship game? Are these the players that can command respect like Vince Young in 2005?

B. Who are your top 5 players in the Mack Brown era that would have had the biggest (or much larger than they otherwise did) impact on the program but for injuries (either career ending like Albert Hardy or career altering like Tony Hills)?

A: Good question regarding the leadership in the program and I think you'll be pleased to hear that this is an area where the Longhorns appear to be pretty strong. First and foremost, sophomore quarterback Garrett Gilbert has embraced his role as a leader very quickly and I'm sure he's picked up a lot of tips from Colt McCoy, who was forced to do exactly what Gilbert will be asked to do this season. This summer will be a key piece of the leadership puzzle for Gilbert, but I would expect this to be his team, if it's not already, by the end of July. Others on the offensive side of the ball that are growing in leadership roles include Michael Huey, Tray Allen and Malcolm Williams.

The defense seems to have a lot of players that are comfortable in leadership roles, whether you're talking about Eddie Jones, Sam Acho, Keenan Robinson, Blake Gideon, Aaron Williams or a host of others. That side of the ball seems to have a very good handle on the responsibilities on transferring and handing down the leadership mantle from one class to the next one.

Love the second question as well. If we're limiting this discussion to injuries and only injuries, the first two names that come to mind are Marco Martin and Brian Pickryl. Both were five-star talents and I'm not sure I've ever seen a more athletic 325-pound kid than martin before a cheap-shot in the state title game during his senior season helped ruin his college career before it ever started. Meanwhile, Pickryl started as a true freshman and was a special talent, but his shoulders just gave out on him and forced him to retire when he could have been an All-American by 2004 or 2005.

Other that come to mind include Albert Hardy (Class of 2002), Blaine Irby (Class of 2007) and Garnet Smith (Class of 2002). I also think Montrell Flowers deserves a special spot because he was on the verge of a breakout seasons before his career-ending injury, which may have robbed him of an NFL career along the way.

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