Seniors look to avoid a bookend career with another losing season


Elisabeth Dillon

Mike Davis sits down near the corner of the end zone. The wide receiver leads the Longhorns with 20 catches this year but is part of a senior class that is in danger of becoming the first in 10 years to not reach a BCS bowl. 

Garrett Callahan

Almost four years ago, players offered scholarships by Texas watched the Longhorns compete for a national championship and come one Colt McCoy injury short of winning its fifth national title. A month later, 25 of those athletes signed their national letter of intent to become Longhorns.

For 12 of those players, their days in a burnt orange uniform are numbered and they have one final year—specifically nine, maybe 10 games—left to make their mark on the 40 acres.

This senior class, made up of a total of 13 players, including walk-ons, is the only class in a decade at Texas not to play in a BCS bowl. Coming into the season, coaches thought they would use that as a
fighting point.

“There’s a sense of urgency among this senior class,” former defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said at the start of the season. “They were recruited during the 2009 title game period. That was part of their reason for coming here.”

These seniors, however, are starting the season the way they came into their career. The first year these players were at Texas, the team went 5-7, the first losing season under Mack Brown. Now three games into the season, this current team is closer to another 5-7 season than a BCS game.

Nevertheless, this is their last chance to change that and they know that.

“I do know how that 5-7 year felt. That was my freshman year,” senior Adrian Phillips said. “We are going to do everything in our power to make sure that we won’t have that season again.”

After two straight losses that attitude is starting to show. On Sunday’s practice, senior Trey Hopkins talked to his team to make sure the haunting memory of 2010 doesn’t become another reality.

“All I said was from a senior’s point of view, we have to realize that we have to turn this thing around,” Hopkins said. “Before we know it, this year is going to be over. I think about our time here at Texas, we really have to focus on the now and not look too far into the future. Not look at games in the future and focus on this specific moment. Nothing past this is promised.”

Longhorns fans hope that message will work. Co-ffensive coordinator Major Applewhite remembers how he felt when the time was coming to an end for the seniors he played with.

“It always meant something to me when a coach told me you have 44 games left—this is when they used to play 11 in a season—but that guy over there only has 11,” Applewhite said. “You felt a sense of obligation to make sure the seniors went out the way they wanted to go out.”

With the current predicament Texas has put itself into with a 1-2 start, the team has a bad taste in its mouth. The 13 seniors on this struggling team can count the number of days they have left and to them they feel like they shouldn’t be in this position. They have to bring it upon themselves to prove otherwise.

“I don’t feel like a 1-2 team at all,” senior Jackson Jeffcoat said. “It’s disappointing that we are 1-2.  We don’t like that.  We don’t like the taste.  We’re mad about it.  We know we have a lot to prove.”

Simply put, the seniors don’t want to bookend their career at Texas with other losing season, but to do that work needs to be done on this “player-led” team.

“[This] is not an unfixable team,” Jeffcoat said. “We can still win the rest of the games. We still can. We still have a lot of football to play.”