Transfers, ‘The Eyes of Texas’ news consume Longhorns’ return to practice

Carter Yates

After missing a full week due to COVID-19 protocols, the Longhorns took the field Thursday morning to resume spring practice. However, there was one key member on the defensive side absent.

Junior linebacker Juwan Mitchell put his name in the transfer portal Wednesday, signaling his intentions to leave the Texas program. In 2020, Mitchell led the Longhorns with 62 total tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. The departure leaves Texas with serious depth issues at the linebacker position when factoring in that junior linebacker DeMarvion Overshown will miss all of spring practice after undergoing shoulder surgery.

Despite Mitchell’s seemingly imminent transfer, head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff are excited about the young prospects Texas has at the linebacker position.

“We coach the guys we have,” Sarkisian said. “Again (it’s a) new scheme, so we’re still working our way through a little bit of the growing pains of things being new, but we have some young, talented players (at that position).”

Texas will strap on the pads for the first time in 2021 tomorrow morning after several nonpadded practices. Although junior wide receiver Jake Smith has already suffered a broken foot in spring practice, Sarkisian said it’s important to approach padded practice without fear of being injured.

“You can’t be scared to get hurt,” Sarkisian said. “The moment you try not to get injured, you get injured. If we’re going to have a contact practice, if we’re going to put full pads on … we got to prepare for contact. This is a physical sport.”

In his introductory press conference in January, Sarkisian stated the Longhorns would sing “The Eyes of Texas,” UT’s alma mater.  Since then, the University has released its full report on the history behind the school song and confirmed it would continue to be played.

However, The Texas Tribune has made several reports that big-money donors may have guided the University’s decision. Sarkisian addressed the ongoing controversy by saying the Texas football team will be unified on the matter. 

“We’ve had some really quality dialogue, which has been important, and we’ll continue to,” Sarkisian said. “I think our team is of the understanding of, ‘OK, now things have been laid on the table, what’s the direction we want to go as a team, how do we do it as a unified front?’” 

One thing is for certain: Sarkisian’s team will not ignore the controversy.

“The last thing we want to do in a situation like this is to ignore it or act like it’s just going to go away, because it’s not,” Sarkisian said. “The key component is for us to be on the same page and be unified, not only from a player’s standpoint, but also a coach’s standpoint.”