June 30, 2009

The Ticket City Locker Room Report

Q: (BurtHorn■) - I was wondering if you could fill us in on how D.J. Grant is doing in workouts and do you think that he will have enough impact on the field where defenses need to know where he's lined up?

How are Calvin Howell and Derek Johnson doing so far this summer? Does anyone from the program see them in the rotation early and often? Are there any true freshmen impressing thus far in the summer workouts?

Which is better? Tombstone or Open Range?

A: First, Grant appears to be 100% healthy and he's currently participating in all off-season workouts, including seven-on-seven workouts. It's probably too early to gauge his potential impact, but everyone should tempter their enthusiasm to an extent because we're talking about a young man that has zero game experience and missed the majority of spring workouts at a time when he's still making adjustments to a new position. There's no question in my mind that Grant can become a playmaker at the position, but expecting him to be a heavy contributor this season might be asking too much. You asked whether he'll be good enough this season to make defenses know where he's lined up at on the field, but I think you have to walk before you can run and he's at a stage of his development where he's still trying to figure out where to line-up on every play.

As far as the young freshmen defensive tackles are concerned, they are doing well and are involved in off-season workouts, but outside of the conditioning part of the off-season, there's not a lot that can be known about them until they get the pads on. I can tell you that both players arrived on the 40 Acres in terrific condition, which is half of the battle. When the team begins two-a-days in August, both players are going to have a chance to get in the mix for playing time in the two-deep. There's really not much of a choice, as the team really needs at least one of the two to make some kind of immediate impact.

A couple of true freshmen that have opened some eyes this summer and wide receiver Greg Timmons and running back Chris Whaley. While it's unlikely that Timmons will play this season, the staff has high hopes for Whaley and it's a good sign that he's doing well before the start of full workouts.

Finally, give me Tombstone over Open Range. I know that Open Range was trying to be one of those old-school Westerns, but it was a little flat for me. I've watched it once and never seen it again, but I've probably stopped and watched Tombstone 50 times.

Q: (Frozen Horn) - How does Desmond Jackson compare to Jamarcus McFarland at the same stage?

A: That's a really good question. When McFarland was a sophomore, he looked a lot like Jackson physically and he was certainly more of a playmaker when he was a young player at Lufkin than he was as he got older. I think what really stood out about McFarland as a young player is that he was an anchor against some tough high-level 5A teams as a sophomore and not only made plays, but was on the verge of being unblockable with a single blocker. In my opinion, McFarland added some weight in the last few years and wasn't nearly as active as a player. When you look at Jackson, he's a little lighter than some of the bulls that are recruited at the position, but he has elite-level quickness and footwork. There is no question that he's a major college prospect.

Q: (PatrickGood21) - 1) We all pretty much agree that the ship has sailed on a few highly touted 2010 recruits, but we are still going very hard after the remaining few. Can you give a prediction on how many of the remaining guys come to UT. (If you can't use specific names, just specify 1 offensive player/2 defensive players. Or just give us your predictions on who exactly you think we'll get.)

2) Who are the top 5 2011 guys that you think UT needs, not necessarily the top 5 best players in the class, but the best 5 for us?

3) I've heard rumors the other Deandrew White could be getting an offer soon. Any smoke there?

A: From the pool of players that Texas is still recruiting, I think they are in a good position to potentially land wide receiver Darius White, defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, linebacker Aaron Franklin and linebacker Jordan Hicks. It's hard to gauge exactly where Texas stands with Jake Matthews and Corey Nelson, but nobody would confuse Texas as the favorite on those recruitments, although it would shock me if they landed one of those two when it's all said and done. If you're making me get into the prediction business, I'd lean slightly towards Texas for White and Jeffcoat, but I'm not comfortable with an outright prediction on either because I'm not sure what basis the prediction would be made on. A lot of people think that the Longhorns will get Franklin soon, but Hicks will be impossible to project until he starts taking visits.

Second, if I'm picking five guys for Texas based on needs, I'll go with San Antonio Madison running back Aaron Green, defensive tackle Desmond Jackson, offensive lineman Sedrick Flowers, Cibolo Steele running back Malcolm Brown and cornerback Leroy Scott. Yes, those are the top five players from the current LSR Top 100.

Finally, here's what I know about the White situation. In talking with a source that has knowledge of the situation, I was told that the Texas coaching staff felt much better about White as a prospect after evaluating him in the spring and there was some hope that he would attend one of the two one-day camps. If he had showed at one of the camps, my source told me that an offer would have been likely. I'm of the opinion that the Longhorns want at least one more receiver in this class and White might eventually come into play, but there's been zero movement outside of the recruitment of Darius White at the position this far since the Ross Apo de-commitment.

Q: (SouthHolland) - How many running backs will get offers from Texas in 2011, and how many is Texas going to take?

A: The answer to your first question (Number of offers) will probably depend on what happens with the first couple of prospects that are offered. My guess is that Aaron Green and Malcolm Brown are both going to be offered and that any best-case scenario for the staff includes commitments from at least one of those players. I think there's also a very good chance that North Mesquite big-back Joe Bergeron could be in a position to receive an offer as a fullback/big tailback. That being said, I think it's important to note that all of the prospects in 2011 are still be evaluated and a lot of the decisions on the final pecking order have not been made. Overall, I think the Longhorns will probably look to sign 2-3 backs in the

Q: (Tamarahorn) - Is there any sign of other coaching changes going on the off-season- like in golf, track & field, softball or others from the AD's office?

Are there any signs the OL has been making changes in scheme or attitude this summer or is it too early? I think this would be the number one complaint of any Longhorn fan.

A: Perhaps I need to ask around, but I haven't heard about any buzz in regards to potential coaching changes in the non-revenue sports. I'll ask around and update you next week if I'm hearing anything.

As for the offensive line schemes, don't expect a lot of changes. The thing that the coaching staff would like to see from this group is a little more swagger and nastiness. Most of the players that project as starters have been playing for a long time and there's a corner that they haven't yet turned as a player. The scheme will look much better if players like Adam Ulatoski, Michael Huey and Kyle Hix take the next step as players.

Q: (lsampson) - Watching Augie and the baseball team during the CWS got me thinking a little bit about our football program. I wasn't thinking about how successful we are, but I was thinking about our team's future. Just follow me here for a minute. In baseball, after Gus left, we went out and hired the best of the best in Augie who had won 3 titles with CSF...great move. In basketball, after the Penders debacle, we went out and hired Rick Barnes who had built Clemson into a solid basketball program.

Now in looking ahead to the future of our football program, we have our head coach in waiting - Will Muschamp. That guy excites everyone. He excites me. He excites the fans. He excites the media. He excites the football players. But really, what has this guy accomplished to make us believe that he's the right guy to come in and replace Mack Brown? He has been an awesome defensive coordinator for very good football programs and has coached under good head coaches. He does one of the best jobs on the defensive side of the ball that I've seen here at Texas. But what makes us believe that he has all of the tools necessary to come in and have what it takes to coach the best college football program in the nation (in my opinion)? How can we be sure that he can recruit, coach, and manage a program like ours?

I know some of us think it's a cocky and arrogant saying, but it's true: We're Texas. We shouldn't settle for anything. We should be able to go out and snag an Augie Garrido who will come in and bring the experience needed to keep Texas as a dynasty. Why should we believe that Muschamp can do that for us and not just become another hot name that just doesn't have all of the tools to maintain a superpower like we are?

A: There are a couple of layers to the discussion, but I think you bring up some fair questions.

First, let's make sure to point out that some of the best coaches in the country did not have previous head coaching experience when they were hired at their current spots. The most high-profile is Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, but Mike Leach and Mark Richt are a couple of others that stand out as head coaches that didn't have big-time D1 head coaching experience.

Second, Muschamp gets the benefit of the doubt because he's had significant success everywhere he's been, he's coveted in both the college and pro games and he's in a coaching tree that's root begin with Nick Saban, Bill Belichick and Bill Parcels.

Third, he has Mack Brown's confidence. Keep in mind that it was Mack that approached DeLoss Dodds with the idea of an eventual hand-off at head coach. When you consider that he has poured his heart and soul into building this program, it stands to reason that the long-lasting success of the school is going to very important. It's part of his legacy.

Fourth, there are advantages in hiring from within, IF you have the right guy to assume reigns as the alpha-male in the program. Whenever Mack decides to hang up his whistle, the wheel won't need to be re-invented and you can make a strong case that there's less risk of upsetting an established powerhouse by staying in-house.

Overall, I'm actually on your side nine out of ten times, but the exception to the rule arrives in a situation where we're talking about a potentially special guy. Those guys are far and few between, but Muschamp is thought to one of those guys. The other point that has to be made in this discussion is the fact that whatever risks were involved in turning things over to Muschamp, Mack was willing to take that risk in order to ensure that he has the nation's top defensive coordinator at his disposal during his final seasons at Texas.

Q: (HKHORN10) - Has Lache Seastrunk's recruitment been the most trying and dramatic courtship that you have had to follow in your time covering the Horns? If not, who holds that honor? Bomar? VY? Perrilloux? Shep?

Secondly, if we miss on Lache this year, and somehow are unable to land Malcolm Brown and/or Aaron Green in 2011, do you feel comfortable that Chris Whaley can be our workhorse RB for the next 3-4 years? From the campus move-in day pictures on Mack's site, he looks to be in great shape. If he can maintain his current weight/shape (if not lose 5-10 lbs), I see no reason why he cannot be our next stud back.

A: Ryan Perrilloux set the bar when it comes to roller coasters in recruiting. Everyone else is just watching in his gust as far as I'm concerned.

As for Whaley, I'm taking a wait-and-see approach at this point. I'm really not sure how his situation will turn out.

Q: (maje12) - 1) How is Christian Scott doing? Has he figured out the mental side of the game (we all know his physical ability is off of the charts)? If yes, will Scott, in your opinion, get the nod over Gideon this year?

2) Has anyone who was not a huge contributor last year, stepped their game up this summer? If yes, who? Also, which player(s) is/are not participating due to injuries?

3) As more of a philosophical question, when covering recruiting and certain recruits, what lines do you draw as far as what you will share with the board and what you feel is private? I understand situations in which a recruit asks you to keep something private but with the inside info that y'all are privy to (and that good ol' rumor mill), how do you and the staff gauge what to share and what not to share?

4) How is your golf game coming along?

5) If you were given almighty cosmic powers and could pick one University of Texas team to win a national championship in 2009/2010, which sport would you choose (i.e.- football, basketball, baseball, or other; men or women)? Why?

6) Ginger or Marianne?

7) Wilma or Betty?

8) What is the latest on Blaine Irby? Is it still a situation of wait-and-see? It seems like we have been given a wide array of predictions; everything from "he'll be back this season" to "he likely won't ever play again." Should we (fans) expect the worst or be cautiously optimistic?

A: Scott has had a terrific off-season and he seems to have emerged as a player that Will Muschamp wants to have on the field a lot. He's also emerged as a more vocal leader this off-season and he's starting to do some of the little things at the position that Muschamp wants from his safeties (i.e. - knowing where everyone needs to be and helping them get there).

Second, I'm not sure that there have been a ton of surprises in the off-season, at least among the skill positions on both sides of the ball.

Third, unless I feel like a piece of information is too sensitive for public consumption (out of respect to the prospect involved) or betrays the trust of a source, we're going to give you everything we have. I'm not usually going to dive into sensitive family situations - not on public message boards.

Fourth, my golf game is coming very slow, but I'm dedicated to improving. I simply have to learn that killing the ball is not my primary objective.

Fifth, if I understand this correctly, you don't want me to predict anything - you just want me to play Sports God and hand out a national title? If that's the case, here's to Mack Brown hoisting another crystal football because everything in this town is better when the football team is on top. The good feelings from a title in one of those other sports would last until the first time the football team loses. Plus, I'd really like to see a few of the guys on this team like Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley achieve the pinnacle of the college game.

Sixth, I spent about ten minutes thinking about it, but I'm going to go with Ginger because she's famous. That adds the extra sex appeal that gives her a slight nod over Mary Ann.

Seventh, I'm a Betty guy all the way.

Finally, Irby is a long way from being ready to play again. I wouldn't expect to see him in a uniform until 2010 at the earliest.

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