(Photo by Michael Kinney)
By Michael Kinney
FRISCO, Texas — When coach Tom Herman took over the Texas football program last year he knew he had to rebuild from the ground up. While there was talent on the roster, it was not at the level he needed it to be to compete in the Big 12.
That is why so much emphasis has been put on the 2018 incoming freshman class. While Herman won’t discount the upperclassmen at UT, it’s the new breed that will be tasked with turning the program around.
That, ofcourse, means getting his quarterback position in order. While the Longhorns have a pair of veterans in junior Shane Buechele and sophomore Sam Ehlinger, it wouldn’t be a surprise if one or both of the freshman signal callers will get their chance at some point this season to lead the offense.
“I feel good about the two guys that are veterans,” Herman said Tuesday at Big 12 Media Days. “I feel great about the two young guys in Casey Thompson and Cameron Rising. They showed up. I will tell you this, they showed up and exceeded all expectations in terms of two guys that did not look like they didn’t belong. They looked like they were, obviously, they made some youthful mistakes from time to time, but from a talent standpoint, they certainly held their own.”
Thompson is the 6-foot-1, 190-pound quarterback out of Oklahoma. The son of former OU star Charles Thompson, Casey Thompson is considered a dual threat under center.
Rising, a native of California, has a bigger frame at 6-2, 230 is believed the be the better prototypical quarterback.
However, Herman said both Rising and Thompson are far from being one-dimensional.
“Those two young quarterbacks, those two freshmen are going to give those guys a run for their money as well,” Herman said. “They came in, they should have been seniors in high school and they came in, they did not look out of place. I think when you sign two quarterbacks and one is deemed a “pro-style” guy and the other one is deemed a “dual threat” guy you think one can’t run and the other can’t throw and that’s far from the truth. Cameron Rising can throw a lot better and move around better than people think and to be honest with you, Casey Thompson can throw the ball quite a bit better than people think.”
When the Longhorns enter camp, they will have four quarterbacks essentially competing for the starting spot. Considering the issues Texas had last season with the position, it’s a problem Herman gladly welcomes.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever even heard of what we went through last year at any other program to have only two scholarship quarterbacks, and then to have both of them be hurt for extended periods of time throughout the course of the season, that’s crazy,” Herman said. “You cannot prepare for something like that.”
Two Way Jamison
D’Shawn Jamison was a 4-star cornerback coming out of Lamar High (Houston). He was considered one of the top defensive backs in the state.
Now, heading into his first year at UT, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound athlete is listed as a wide receiver in the media guide. However, Herman reiterated that it’s not a permanent move.
“He is going to play both this year, he has been working at both throughout the offseason. He has been doing drills with both the slot receivers and the DBs. We certainly plan to use him on offense. But I think it’s more of a stop gap.”
However, Herman said, depending on how Jamison does on the offensive side of the ball, he could wind up staying there past this season.
“He may go light the world on the fire then go hey coach, can I stay here,” Herman said. “You come into our program, you can play whatever you want to play. You look at the depth chart and say I want to play this. It usually always works itself out. It’s always the young man’s decision. If not, you don’t have a full buy in. “We approached D’Shawn and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got a need for some dynamism at that slot receiver position, and you certainly have it. The DB room is pretty packed this year, not to say that you can’t crack into it, but we’d like for you to at least get some work at slot receiver and see how it goes. By all accounts, he’s having a really good offseason.” …
Herman was asked what he has seen from freshman running back Keaontay Ingram so far.
“Nothing,” Herman responded. “We’ve been doing running drills. I mean he looks great doing running drills and going around cones in shorts. The real proof will be when we put the pads on.” …
Senior defensive lineman Breckyn Hager says freshman DB B.J. Foster has made an impression early on.
“That whole class is pretty darn talented,” Hager said. “But as far as impressing an old head like me, B.J. Foster. He’s a missile. I’ve seen him take off like a missile.” …
Defensive lineman Chris Nelson has been impressed with the entire freshman class.
“I would say all of them have. They are looking toward us (upperclassmen), they are taking coaching. None of them are big headed at all,” Nelson said.”They all want to get better. I feel like all of them are taking the next step.” …
Herman explains one of the differences from last year’s team.
“There is a difference between compliance and committed. I think last year we had a lot of compliant guys. They were yes sir and nod your head and do what you’re asked to do,” Herman said. “But I don’t know if they really deep down believed in their core that the way that we’re doing things is the only way that you can win championships. So, I think right now, there is not a doubt in my mind that the belief in that locker room is there. These guys are working harder. They’re closer, they like each other. They like coming to work every day.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider for EyeAmTruth Media