• Texas projected to finish third in Big 12

    Linebacker Jordan Hicks is a big reason why Texas is picked to finish third.
    Linebacker Jordan Hicks is a big reason why Texas is picked to finish third.

    The Big 12 recently announced its projected order of finish, voted on by the media. First-place votes are in parenthesis, and total points given on a 1-10 scale, so 10 points for each first-place vote, nine points for second place, so on and so forth.


    Texas, which finished sixth last season, is slated to finish third, which is where I voted them.


    1. Oklahoma (32) -- 396 total points

    2. West Virginia (7) -- 339

    3. Texas -- 291

    4. Oklahoma State -- 267

    5. TCU (1) -- 260

    6. Kansas State (1) -- 257

    7. Baylor -- 162

    8. Iowa State -- 121

    9. Texas Tech -- 116

    10. Kansas -- 46


    A few thoughts:


    I'm a little surprised West Virginia only received seven first place votes while Oklahoma -- which went 2-2 down the stretch in 2011 and lost more than it gained -- was so popular.


    Where's the love for Kansas State? The Wildcats finished second last season, and return everybody from Collin Klein and Arthur Brown to John Hubert and Nigel Malone. Coach Bill Snyder is easily one of the best in the country. 


    Some 'Pokes weren't too happy with me projecting Oklahoma State to finish seventh, which I understand, because they won the conference a year ago. But fourth? After losing Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon and a handful of defensive pieces? Mike Gundy is building a program for the long-haul, but I'll be very surprised if a team led by 18-year-old quarterback West Lunt finishes better than a very experienced TCU team.


    Poor Kansas...

  • Four Longhorns on All-Big 12 football team

    Okafor started 13 games at defensive end in 2011.
    Okafor started 13 games at defensive end in 2011.

    After tallying all media votes, the Big 12 announced its 2012 preseason team Tuesday afternoon. Four Longhorns found their names on it and senior defensive end Alex Okafor is the preseason Defensive Player of the Year.


    Safety Kenny Vaccaro, defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat and running back Malcolm Brown were the others honored.


    Here's a link to the full team.


    And heres' the very wordy press release (you have been warned), courtesy of the UT athletics department:



    Okafor is a three-year letterman who has appeared in 39 games on the defensive line, including 21 starts. He was a 2011 AFCA FBS Coaches' All-American and a unanimous first team All-Big 12 selection (Coaches). Also in 2011, he was named first team All-Big 12 (AP, Kansas City Star, Fort Worth Star-Telegram) and was on the 2011 Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award watch list. Okafor transitioned back to full-time defensive end from defensive tackle in spring 2011 and has registered 110 tackles (49solo), 9.5 sacks, 20 TFL, 36 pressures, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery for his career. Last season he started all 13 games, posting 58 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, seven sacks, three pass breakups, 17 pressures, two caused fumbles and one fumble recovery. He is a two-time member of UT'sAthletics Director's Honor Roll (Spring 2010/Fall 2010).


    Okafor and Jeffcoat are also on the 2012 watch lists for the Lombardi Award (college lineman or linebacker of the year), Bednarik Award (college defensive player of the year), Nagurski Trophy (most outstanding defensive player) and the College Football Performance Awards Defensive Awards.


    Jeffcoat is a third-year defensive lineman who has appeared in 21 games with 15 starts. He was a 2011 second team All-Big 12 selection (Coaches, AP, Kansas City Star, San Antonio Express-News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram). Jackson has 86 tackles (43 solo), 27 TFL, 10.5 sacks, four PBU, one fumble recovery and 16 pressures for his career. He tallied 71 tackles, 21 TFL, eight sacks, nine pressures and three pass breakups in 2011. He was named honorable mention Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2010 when he posted 15 tackles (eight solo), six TFL and 2.5 sacks, one PBU, one fumble recovery and seven pressures. His father, Jim, was a standout defensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys (1983-94) and Buffalo Bills (1995-97) and is the current defensive line coach at San Jose State.


    Vaccaro is a fourth-year defensive back who has appeared in 38 games with 19 career starts. He was chosen to the All-Big 12 first team (Coaches), second team (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) andhonorable mention (AP) in 2011 and was honorable mention for Defensive Player of the Year (Coaches). Vaccaro has posted 157 tackles (102 solos), two interceptions, 12 TFL, two sacks, two forced fumbles and 16 PBU for his career and has also registered 14 tackles (10 solo) and two blocked kicks on special teams. He appeared in all 13 games at safety, starting 11, while registering 82 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, eight pass breakups and seven pressures in 2011.


    Vaccaro has also been named to the 2012 Thorpe Award watch list and joins Okafor and Jeffcoat on the watch lists for the Bednarik Award (college defensive player of the year) and the Nagurski Trophy (most outstanding defensive player).


    Brown, who was named to the 2012 Maxwell Award watch list awarded to the nation’s outstanding collegiate player, begins his second season after having played in 10 games with seven starts as a true freshman in 2011. He was named second-team Freshman All-America by Yahoo!Sports, the 2011 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year (AP, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram) and the Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year (Kansas City Star). Brown is one of 13 Texas freshmen to rush for over 500 yards in a season, ranks seventh on the single season rushing yards (742) list for freshmen and is tied for ninth for rushing touchdowns (5) as a frosh. In 2011, he tallied 172 carries for 742 yards to lead the team and had five rushing touchdowns while catching three passes for 17 yards. Brown ranked second among true freshmen in the NCAA and was eighth overall in the Big 12with 74.2 rushing yards per game. He was the first true freshman to lead Texas in rushing since Cedric Benson in 2001 and was the team's leading rusher ineight of the 13 games. Brown has three career 100-yardrushing performances, tied for third most by Longhorn freshmen. He was on the College Football Performance Awards National Freshman Performer of the Yearwatch list and was a prep All-American who played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

  • Biletnikoff bungle

    Jaxon Shipley led the Longhorns with 55 receiving yards per game.
    Jaxon Shipley led the Longhorns with 55 receiving yards per game.

    Mike Davis was named to the Biletnikoff watch list Tuesday, along with 47 others. Know who didn't make the list?


    Jaxon Shipley, far and away Texas' best receiver last year.


    Davis earns the title of "team's leading receiver" because he had a team-leading 44 receptions for a team-leading 609 yards in 13 games played. But there is little argument that Shipley was a better weapon: in 10 games played, he had one less reception and two less yards, two more touchdowns (three) and averaged about 14 more yards per game. He also returned punts and threw three touchdown passes. Shipley had two games with 100 or more receiving yards, Davis had one.


    The whole "watch list" routine is getting silly. A top-five receiver in the nation, Clemson's Sammy Watkins, didn't make the list this year because of an offseason arrest -- per award policy -- but could be added at any point during the season.


    The Tallahasse Quarterback Club Foundation, the creator and sponsor of the Biletnikoff Award, also left off Southern California's Marquise Lee, who was 29th in the country with 1,143 receiving yards and tied for 18th with 11 touchdowns.


    Truth be told, no Longhorn receiver deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the best in college football -- not yet at least. Nobody on the roster finished in even the top 50 in receptions, receiving yards, receiving yards per game, touchdowns or yards per catch.


    But if the Biletnikoff folks are going to insist upon scratching together a far-too-inclusive list of the best receivers in football, you'd like to think they could correctly peg the best receiver on a given team.  


    (Psst, it's Shipley).

  • Texas to play Ole Miss at 8:15

    Those making the trip to Oxford, Miss., will get to enjoy a full day at The Grove -- barbecue, beer, mimosas, stuffed eggs and plenty of hotty toddy -- before Texas kicks off against Ole Miss at 8:15 central time.


    The Sept. 15 game will be televised nationally on ESPN from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.


    The Longhorns have a 5-1 series advantage over the Rebels, but have never played in Oxford. 


    Texas last trekked to SEC country in 2004, coming away with a 22-20 win against Arkansas. Though I guess a 27-25 win at Texas A&M last Thanksgiving would count, retroactively. 

  • J'Covan Brown injured, will miss summer league

    This can't be the professional beginning J'Covan Brown was hoping for.

    The former Longhorn went undrafted in June, and will now miss an entire summer's worth of basketball because of a strained right Achilles, the Beaumont Enterprise reported Friday.

    Brown had signed with the Miami Heat, and was prepared to play with them in summer leagues. The injury occurred sometime during practices. Even if he were to return in the fall -- the timetable the BE reported -- there's little chance an injured Brown would still be on the Heat by then.

    This past season, Brown scored 34 against Missouri despite a nagging ankle sprain, which he said afterwards had him playing at "70 percent."