Texas moved a little bit closer to the 2014 regular season last week with the start of spring practice. This marks the second of new head coach Charlie Strong’s five phases of college football.
Strong recently outlined his cycle as follows: Winter conditioning, spring practice, summer conditioning, preseason camp and the regular season.
During Texas’ first practice, senior quarterback David Ash practiced with the rest of the quarterbacks, an indication that he should be cleared to play once the season begins. The Longhorns appear to have attempted to bolster their quarterback depth by moving senior Miles Onyegbule to quarterback, a position he played in high school but has yet to try at the collegiate level. At the moment, it appears Texas’ offense will rely on the health of Ash, considering his backups will enter the fall without having proven their ability to succeed at the college level.
Last week, just a couple days after dismissing two players, the Longhorn football program lost two more who decided to leave the sport. Seniors Bryant Jackson and Aaron Benson have both opted to forgo their final year of eligibility. Jackson’s career ends for medical purposes after he suffered a foot injury that cost him the 2013 and may have been what ended his career. Jackson came to Texas as a defensive back out of high school before moving to receiver in 2011.
Benson, the younger cousin of former standout running back Cedric Benson, decided to end his career to focus on academics. The senior
linebacker never managed to make a significant impact on the field, despite being a highly touted recruit in 2010.
Spring practice does not appear to have slowed down Strong and his staff on the recruiting trail, as they landed their eighth and ninth commit for the class of 2015 last week. Last Tuesday, Texas received a commitment from Deshon Elliot, a three-star linebacker/safety hybrid, who had offers from Texas A&M, Baylor and Oklahoma, among other schools. Landing Elliot was crucial in getting some recruiting momentum back from the Aggies, who were seen as the Longhorns’ biggest competitor for his services.
On Saturday, Under Armour All-American Toby Weathersby chose the Longhorns over the Aggies and Sooners. Weathersby became Texas’ third offensive line commit of the 2015 class, joining Patrick Vahe and Ronnie Major.
Texas also offered highly touted offensive tackle Matthew Burrell from Virginia. Although landing the tackle will be tough, Texas fans should appreciate the new coaching staff’s willingness to recruit players from all over the country. A key reason that the previous regime failed was an overreliance on in-state recruits, even in years that the talent wasn’t there. Strong can avoid this problem by continuing to go after top out-of-state talent that indicates interest in playing for Texas.