August 24, 2009

Countdown to kickoff: No.10 Dan Buckner

Name: Dan Buckner

Position: Wide receiver/H-back

Classification: Sophomore

Prep credentials: The former Allen star was a four-star prospect (5.9) who was ranked as the nation's No.16 wide receiver (behind Darryl Stonum and Jeff Fuller) by Rivals. Jones was ranked as the state's No.8 overall prospect by Lone Star Recruiting, while Rivals ranked him as the state's No.15 player.

Click here to see Buckner's high school film

2008 stats: Buckner played in all 12 games last season, catching five passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns.

2008 Honors: None

Click here to see Buckner's 2008 highlight film

Best game in 2008: Jones never caught more than a single ball in any game last season, but his most memorable play came against Missouri when he hauled in a deep ball from John Chiles at around the 20-yard line and raced into the end zone for a 51-yard catch and score.

Scouting Report: There were more than a few people who were ready to write Buckner off after a disappointing freshman season. In his debut season with the Longhorns, Buckner proved to be a player that didn't have enough strength or quickness to get off the ball against above-average college cornerbacks. In fact, some observers of practice last fall were dismayed at how Buckner could be controlled so easily by players giving up six-to-eight inches in height.

The fact that the Longhorns were returning four of their top five receivers from last season and adding John Chiles to the mix had a lot of people thinking that Buckner might get lost in the mix and forever forgotten. It's those tamed expectations for him heading into the 2009 pre-season that has made his revival (if a second-year player can have such a thing) so much more interesting to watch this month.

For all of the criticism that he received for being "soft" as a freshman, Buckner has emerged as a real bright spot among the receivers this month. The new and improved Buckner committed himself to his conditioning in the off-season, which has allowed him to play with more confidence and strength this season. Buckner has not only been getting off the line of scrimmage, but he's been getting open and finishing plays since the first day of camp.

In fact, his emergence and improved physicality (along with a ton if injuries) has forced the coaches to give him a look at H-back in the passing offense, and he's flashing some very good things from that position. As nothing more than a big receiver from that spot on the field, Buckner does a good job of working the belly of a defense and he probably has the best hands of any big receiver on the team. For all of the talk of his lack of burst, he has great ball skills and if you put the ball in the air, he'll go up and get it.

The big hope… Buckner proves to be too good to leave off the field and he finds a niche as a pass-catching H-back for the Longhorns this season.

The big worry… He's having a good camp, but the strong play doesn't translate to success in games.

Did you know? Buckner lists the Disney Channel as his favorite TV station.

NFL Scouting report:"I saw him in the weight room this spring. He has a long way to go, but he seems to be ahead of where a guy like Limas Sweed was at the same stage. Bobby Kennedy does a good job with kids like him. He'll get tougher if he isn't there already."

The bottom line: Buckner is a total wild card. He might emerge as a key replacement for the hole left in the offense with the injuries to Blaine Irby/D.J. Grant or he could be a total non-factor this season. His play through camp suggests that he's not going to be a non-factor, but can he pump life into an otherwise dead position in the offense? He's one of the few guys that can still be classified as a true sleeper for this team because the staff might not even learn his role until the lights come on.

No.11 - Eddie Jones
No.12 - Tre Newton
No.13 - Emmanuel Acho
No.14 - John Chiles
No.15 - Kheeston Randall
No.16 - David Snow
No.17 - Curtis Brown
No.18 - Malcolm Williams
No.19 - Keenan Robinson
No.20 - Vondrell McGee
No.21 - Blake Gideon
No.22 - Adam Ulatoski
No.23 - Ben Alexander
No.24 - James Kirkendoll
No.25 - Jared Norton

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