Okafor among standouts as Longhorns conclude summer workouts

Nick Cremona

The summer is coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean the Longhorns aren’t still working hard in preparation for the season opener against Rice on Sept. 3. Texas strength and conditioning coaches met with the media Friday to discuss how the team has progressed this offseason.

“The guys pushed themselves hard,” said Jeff “Mad Dog” Madden, the assistant athletic director for strength and conditioning. “We had a little lack of leadership last year and these guys really stepped it up and did a great job in being accountable and making themselves accountable and making sure everyone was there handling their business.”
Madden also noted players who have stepped up as team leaders.

“Blake Gideon has done a tremendous job,” he said. “David Snow has done a tremendous job. Keenan Robinson has done a great job. All those seniors have really stepped up, and some of the juniors have stepped up to help us as well. We’ve got some great kids, and everybody’s embarrassed over what we did last year, so we’re looking forward to winning some football games again.”

The offseason also marked the arrival of new football strength and conditioning coach Bennie Wylie, who has gathered a sort of cult-like following after reports that he participates in all the grueling workouts he puts the players through.

“I call him the Energizer Bunny,” Madden said. “He keeps going and going and going. He’s got tremendous endurance. He works out all day long. We usually run four groups a day, and he’s working out with every one of them. They like him a lot. He’s got a great personality. He’s a great guy.”

Okafor settling in on outside
One of the many standouts this summer has been defensive end Alex Okafor. He was moved to defensive tackle a year ago, but has returned to his natural position on the outside.

“Alex last year didn’t get a chance to do what he wanted to do because he’s so unselfish, we put him inside and he just had to hang in there. He had a great spring,” said head coach Mack Brown. “It’s refreshing to be back at end, doing what I’ve been doing my whole life,” Okafor said. “I’ll take on a tight end any day compared to a guard.”

Texas No. 24 in Coaches Poll
The USA Today Coaches Poll was recently released, and Texas checks in at No. 24 in the preseason rankings — a far cry from the top-10 preseason rankings the Longhorns have grown accustomed to in years past, but a bit generous considering they went 5-7 last season.

“Twenty-fourth?” Brown asked “Oh they’ve got us high. I can’t tell you where we were ranked to start last year, it was obviously too high.”

Printed on Monday, August 8th, 2011 as: Gideon, Robinson continue to impress as fall camp begins