• 2014 LB Reggie Long: If Texas offers me, I’ll commit on the spot

    Reggie Long, like dozens of hopeful high school football players from around the state and country, attended Texas' annual Orange-White Scrimmage this past weekend. 

    The Whitehouse junior linebacker liked what he saw. Head coach Mack Brown and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz have liked what they've seen on film of Long, who does not currently hold any scholarship offers.

    But if Texas ever does offer Long, a 6-foot, 212-pound Class of 2014 prospect, he says he wouldn't think twice before accepting the offer and pledging to play for the Longhorns. And there's no other program he can say that about.  

    "It'd be something big," Long said of the possibility of Texas offering him. "I've talked to their coaches for quite some time. Texas just started showing interest, which is kind of shocking... It'd be like a dream come true. It would be awesome if they offered."

    Long has drawn interest from a lot of schools, including LSU, Texas Tech, Baylor, SMU, TCU and Texas A&M, among others, including Mississippi State, where he says he's currently leaning towards and where Diaz was the defensive coordinator two seasons ago.

    "Coach Brown was saying that he enjoyed my film and that I would be a good asset to the football team," Long said. "Coach Diaz said that he enjoyed it and he wants me down for a camp."

    Long says he does indeed plan on going to that Longhorns camp. When he went to the Rivals camp last month, he felt good about his performance. 

    "I think I actually stack up as one of the best [linebackers] in the nation," Long said. "I went to a camp and I think I was the best linebacker there [at the Rivals camp]."

    Texas currently has 11 players committed for the Class of 2014, nearly as many as the 15 Class of 2013 prospects that signed this year. Dallas Carter's Cameron Hampton is the only junior that has pledged to play for the Longhorns. 

    Still waiting on his first offer, Long would become the second if Texas offers him.

  • NASCAR: Three things to watch

    NASCAR Sprint Cup racing resumes action this weekend at Martinsville, and here are three things to watch out for after the off week.

    1. How will Mark Martin and Brian Vickers fare in Denny Hamlin's ride while he recovers from a back injury sustained in a last-lap crash at California with Joey Logano? Will he be able to make the Chase when he returns? And is the feud between Hamlin and Logano over? Reports say the two texted each other, but there weren't too many positive feelings after the phone words were exchanged. 

    2. Expect racing and off-track action to remain competitive and drama-filled. NASCAR seems to have calmed down in regards to racing hard and drivers' emotions - as evidenced by not fining Tony Stewart for his brawl with Logano or expletive-filled postrace interview. It's good news for the fans, who are seeing good races so far with the new Gen-6 car. 

    3. It's all about the points. Keep an eye on veteran drivers outside of the top 10 in points. Jeff Gordon and Stewart are among those looking to break into safe Chase territory, and could use a win soon to vault them outside of the bubble zone. Paul Menard and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are off to surprisingly strong starts, and currently sit at eighth and 12th in the points. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski, first and second in the points, are both still looking for their first victory of the season. 
     

  • The Arms of Texas: How will Colt McCoy fare in San Francisco?

    Cleveland has undergone so much reconstruction it seems like Ty Pennington was hired as head advisor.

    Since Jimmy Haslam bought the franchise in August of last year, the Browns front office and coaching staff has almost completely shifted. As a result, Norv Turner was brought in during the off-season as offensive coordinator. His vertical passing style of offense and the signing of Jason Campbell displayed the Browns were going in a new direction. McCoy just didn’t fit in the plan.

    But the Browns did McCoy a favor in reportedly sending him to the Golden Gate City. Head coach Jim Harbaugh happens to be the magic man when it comes to improving quarterbacks.

    And McCoy needs some improvements.

    Harbaugh began his head-coaching career at San Diego University, a private university in the Pioneer conference, in 2004. His first quarterback was Todd Mortensen, who had transferred from BYU after underperforming the last three seasons, completing 27 of 77 passes for one touchdown and four interceptions. In his first season under Harbaugh’s direction, Mortensen would throw for 2,874 yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions. Mortensen would go on to sign a contract with the Detroit Lions.

    In his second year at San Diego, Harbaugh brought out the talents of Josh Johnson. Johnson would shatter most of the school records for passing during his time with Harbaugh and eventually was drafted by Tampa Bay. He currently plays for Cincinnati.

    The list continues for Harbaugh from when he began at Stanford and improved T.C. Ostrander, who stepped up from his back-up role to fill in the absence of Trent Edwards in 2007. Ostrander threw for 1,422 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions in four games with the Cardinal. When Ostrander suffered a seizure during the fifth week, backup Tavita Prichard stepped in and helped upset top-ranked USC. Prichard would later lose his starting position to Andrew Luck. Luck would get drafted No. 1 overall after finishing second two years in a row in the Heisman polls.

    All of this happened under Jim Harbaugh’s direction.

    It isn’t coincidence that all of these players improved dramatically. The list is too consistent.

    Harbaugh took a quarterback that everyone thought was washed up in Alex Smith and turned him into a team MVP overnight. Then after Smith was injured in Week 10 of the next season, Harbaugh brought up backup Colin Kaepernick and you know the rest.

    McCoy will now get his opportunity to improve.

    One of the things that kept McCoy out of contention in Cleveland was his lack of arm strength. Under Harbaugh, that is not a problem.

    Here’s an example of what an Alex Smith/Harbaugh game looks like. In the 2011 NFC Divisional Playoff game between San Francisco and New Orleans, the average distance Alex Smith had to throw was 7.75 yards. Accuracy, consistency, and mobility allowed Smith to thrive in a 327-yard, four-touchdown playoff win.

    Sounds a lot like a 2009 Texas Longhorns game.

    But McCoy will have to compete for the backup role with Scott Tolzien. When you have earned a 6-15 record as a starter, you aren’t going to compete for a starting gig anywhere in the NFL.

    Both Tolzien and McCoy possess accuracy, youth, and a Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (given to the NCAA’s most outstanding senior quarterback). It will be a tough competition, but a fair one, much unlike the one McCoy was promised last season with Weeden.

    Tolzien or McCoy may have to start at some point next season. The dual-threat attack with Kaepernick is effective, but also risky. Whoever wins the second-string will have to be prepared.

  • The Arms of Texas: Vince Young still looking for a job, is Seattle a good fit?

    The landscape has changed recently for the former Arms of Texas, Colt McCoy and Vince Young, after the Bay Bridge cities of San Francisco and Oakland decided to bring in new quarterbacks.

    San Francisco reportedly acquired McCoy and a sixth-round pick in a trade with Cleveland, and Oakland (who seemed to be the lead suitor for Young) traded two draft picks to Seattle for Matt Flynn and are currently looking to deal Carson Palmer to the Arizona Cardinals.

    While Vince will have to once again test his options, McCoy may just have had the best possible transaction.

    Now that Matt Flynn has officially become part of the silver and black, Young must look elsewhere. Oakland made the move they felt worked best for them: investing in a young player who has shown signs of leadership and talent instead of investing in age. They made that mistake already with Carson Palmer. It’s a more conservative move, unlike those seen when Al Davis was at the helm. One can’t help but think Davis would have taken a chance on the 29-year-old Texas legend.

    But that door has closed. And so have many others. Backup roles have been filled all around the league with Chase Daniels signing with the Chiefs, Matt Cassel with the Vikings, Ryan Fitzpatrick to the Titans, and Carson Palmer reportedly heading to Arizona. The Bills have signed Kevin Kolb recently and probably wouldn’t take a second chance on the same player they cut just seven months ago.

    Oakland just may have opened an avenue for Vince in their acquisition of Matt Flynn. Now Seattle has only one quarterback on the roster in Russell Wilson. Although Jacksonville, Chicago, and the New York Jets could be potential landing spots, Seattle is Vince’s best shot.

    Head coach Pete Carroll might still have some hard feelings over the 2005 National Championship, but he out of anyone else in the league knows what Young’s ‘A’ game looks like. Although the offensive development coaches aren’t any Jim Harbaugh’s, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell could certainly help out the veteran. Bevell knows how to work with quarterbacks looking to come back.

    Bevell has been in a similar situation as offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings during Favre’s fight with the hourglass. In Bevell’s offense, Favre threw for 4,202 yards and 33 touchdowns and came one gutsy pass away from a Super Bowl. Although the difference between Favre and Young talent-wise could be discussed longer than all of Favre’s retirement speeches combined, the experience of handling a player looking to revamp his career could easily applied.

    Young would step into a backup role. Wilson is the future, and from what he showed last year a pretty decent future. But it would be Young’s ticket back in. After spending the season wandering around at home, appearing at UT football games, and being the subject of countless stories regarding his financial status, Young would seemingly prefer playing back-up to Wilson than having to endure that again.

    Perhaps Seattle will make the move. The draft is still a month away, but top quarterback talent will be hard to locate in the later rounds and Young is a candidate the organization would be surer of. Perhaps they won’t.

    Uncertainty seems to be the theme for both Vince Young and Colt McCoy during this offseason. But McCoy is getting his shot, Young is still waiting for his but probably won’t be for long.

    A shot is all you can ask for in this league. Few get more than one. Both these players have been given extra opportunities and will have to make the most of them to keep from being players with jerseys hung up in the halls of the NCAA and cast into the waste basket in the NFL.