Texas players settling in with new coaching staff during spring practice

Carter Yates

Texas football, once a stable year-to-year powerhouse, is coming off a five-year period of consistent upheaval due to middling results. Senior defensive back Josh Thompson has experienced it firsthand.

“I never wanted to commit to a coach but just commit to a school because that’s where I want to be,” Thompson said. “(You) just gotta go through adverse situations, and it will help you out in the long run.”

Thompson originally committed to former head coach Charlie Strong in the summer of 2016. Now, as a senior expected to lead the Texas defense, Thompson is trying to build a relationship with a third head coach and learn technique from a fourth position coach.

But instead of using the constant rotation of coaches as an excuse, Thompson credits the multiple voices he heard in his time at Texas with adding new elements to his game.

“I’m just taking in everything that each coach gives me,” Thompson said. “I think that’s what helps me with playing (defensive back). Each coach gives me a different technique. I’m going to use that and put it in my toolbox.”

Junior running back Roschon Johnson has undergone significant transition in his college career as well. Originally recruited to Texas as a four-star quarterback, Johnson converted to running back one week before the 2019 football season.

“If anybody asks me, I say I’m a football player,” Johnson said. “I feel like I really could do anything that anybody would ask of me, but at the same time, I’m still learning in the position … going from your whole life to playing quarterback, then switching — it’s going to take a few years to get adjusted.”

Unlike Thompson, Johnson’s position coach, Stan Drayton, is one of two holdovers from previous head coach Tom Herman’s staff. Johnson said he and Drayton have worked together this offseason to build upon his newer understanding of the running back position.

“I’ve been really trying to take coaching, trying to get into my deficiencies on the field and really harping on that this offseason,” Johnson said. “That’s one thing I’ve really taken into consideration, just trying to invest in myself and what I really need to work on for me to get better as a whole.”

New head coach Steve Sarkisian hasn’t wasted any time installing his trademark offense he cultivated as Alabama’s offensive coordinator, and Johnson said the mental aspect of grasping the playbook will be just as important as developing the physical tools to compete.

“He’s going to find out who’s really in their playbooks and who’s not,” Johnson said. “At the end of the day, the people who really care about it, the people who want to make strides to get better and win championships, they’re going to be the people who come in the next day knowing the signals.”