Texas sophomore Collin Johnson has described teammate Reggie Hemphill-Mapps as someone who can roll out of bed and play football.
On Saturday night against Kansas State, Hemphill-Mapps woke up.
The redshirt-freshman paced a deep receiving corps in UT’s 40-34 win at Royal-Memorial Stadium. He had 121 receiving yards, but it was his 12 receptions that stood out on the stat sheet. Those 12 catches set a school record for freshmen.
In UT history, only Jordan Shipley (15 catches against Oklahoma State in 2008), Quan Cosby (14 catches against Ohio State in 2009) and Roy Williams (13 catches against Nebraska in 2002) have had bigger games. Eric Metcalf also had a 12-catch game against Arkansas in 1988.
“I see these types of plays all the time in practice, so seeing it here tonight is no big deal for me,” said Johnson, who had seven receptions and 92 yards in the double-overtime contest. “He’s just a baller, that’s who he is.”
Hemphill-Mapps told reporters that he and true freshman Sam Ehlinger had developed a relationship while the quarterback was at Westlake High last year. That rapport showed in the game’s early minutes. Hemphill-Mapps caught three passes from Ehlinger in the first quarter, and he was targeted on an unsuccessful fourth-down toss into the end zone.
Hemphill-Mapps did not catch a ball in either of the overtime sessions as Ehlinger only threw it twice. His presence, however, was felt down the stretch.
Hemphill-Mapps had three catches and six targets on a game-tying drive in the fourth quarter. He also had a 20-yard catch in the final minute of regulation that helped put UT in a position to win the game. But Texas kicker Joshua Rowland missed a 45-yard field goal with two seconds left.
“It didn’t even seem like I had that many catches,” Hemphill-Mapps said. “I was just out there having fun, making sure I (caught) the ball.”
He had a seven-catch effort in his collegiate debut on Sept. 2. The next week, he was suspended for the first half of a 56-0 win over San Jose State for a violation of team rules. Hemphill-Mapps’ 91-yard punt return against Maryland is the third-longest in school history, but he also had two questionable returns from near his own goal line against USC.
After Saturday’s win, Herman was asked where he had seen the most growth from Hemphill-Mapps. Herman answered with “Maturity, maturity.”
“His effort level has never been an issue. His passion for the game has never been an issue,” Herman said. “It’s keeping him focused on the task at hand and on his job and his job only and not riding the roller coaster of emotion and being too high when things are good and too low when things are bad.”
Hemphill-Mapps conceded he has grown up on and off the field. On the field, his 25 catches are tied with Johnson for the team lead. Hemphill-Mapps is still looking for his first touchdown catch, but he is averaging 10.4 yards per catch.
“When I red-shirted last year, it was like taking a year off football,” Hemphill-Mapps said. “Now I get to play in the games and it feels like old times.”
The post Off the “roller coaster of emotion,” Reggie Hemphill-Mapps climbs into UT’s record books appeared first on Hook ‘Em.
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