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Texas notebook: Longhorns close out season with Armanti Foreman’s final highlight

Posted December 28th, 2017

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HOUSTON — Perhaps appropriately, Armanti Foreman made the final statement of Texas’ 2017 season.

Foreman, a senior receiver, put the bow on Wednesday night’s 33-16 win over Missouri in the Texas Bowl with an 18-yard touchdown run. Given the football on a reverse, Foreman scooted into the end zone with 1:39 remaining. UT ran only addition more offensive play, a kneel down by walk-on quarterback Josh Covey.

“His senior year, what a tremendous play-maker. He’s been through a lot here at UT, ” quarterback Sam Ehlinger said. “His brother had an excellent career as well as Armanti, so it was really good to see him get that final touchdown.”

Foreman’s touchdown came with his twin brother, D’Onta, who is a member of the Houston Texans, in attendance. Houston’s NRG Stadium also sits only 40 miles away from Texas City High School, where Foreman graduated from in 2014.

The game capped a roller-coaster season for Foreman.

UT’s leading receiver in 2016, Foreman was buried on UT’s depth chart at the beginning of this year. He hauled in touchdown catches in each of Texas’ first three games but then was benched for a three-game stretch in the middle of the season. When asked about Foreman’s absences, Texas coach Tom Herman continually criticized Foreman’s efforts in practice.

Foreman, though, returned to UT’s lineup against Baylor on Oct. 28 and closed out the regular season with a five-catch performance against Texas Tech. In addition to his touchdown run, he led all UT receivers with his four catches.

“The thinking (behind calling the reverse) was we wanted to score another touchdown. We wanted to call a reverse, and we wanted to make sure if we were going to call a reverse that it would have been him,” Herman said. “He deserved it by how he’s prepared and how he’s practiced. My hats off to him.”

Foreman finished his final season with 31 receptions and a team-high four touchdowns catches. (UT’s other wide receivers combined for five touchdowns). He will participate in the NFLPA Bowl.

Season debut: With Connor Williams preparing for the NFL draft, junior Elijah Rodriguez filled in at left tackle. The start was the fourth of Rodriguez’s career, and it was his first appearance of the season.

Herman tabbed Rodriguez as his starting right tackle in August. The 6-6, 300-pound lineman, however, suffered an ankle injury in a preseason practice, which required surgery. Rodriguez was cleared to play at the end of the regular season, and he made his debut in the Texas Bowl.

Rodriguez told reporters he woke up on Wednesday with a cold and was “pretty sore” afterward. Rodriguez, though, said his outing in the Texas Bowl was a good ending to his season. He was even surprised by his on-field stamina.

“When I first went out there, I was like, this was going to be intense but I’m just going to have to power through it with the mental toughness we’ve developed,” Rodriguez said. “There was a lot of that, but I definitely felt a lot of strength all the way to the end of the game.”

Rodriguez started alongside center Zach Shackelford, guards Patrick Vahe and Jake McMillon and tackle Derek Kerstetter. It was the eighth different starting lineup that UT used on its offensive line this season.

Friend turned foe: Missouri registered two sacks and limited UT to 2.7 yards per rush. The Tigers’ defensive linemen are coached by Brick Haley, who held the same position at Texas in 2015 and 2016. Haley was the only member of Charlie Strong’s 2016 staff that Texas faced this year.

Missouri finished its season with 33 sacks, which was a six-sack improvement from 2016. After allowing 231.9 rushing yards per game last year, the Tigers gave up an average of 159.6 this fall.

Earlier in the week, all-SEC honoree Marcell Frazier praised Haley. Frazier, a redshirt senior, said Haley brought “technique, fundamentals, love, passion, intelligence” to the Tigers. He also said Haley taught him how to study film.

“He brings so much to the table that I don’t think I’ve had before,” Frazier said. “He’s a highly intelligent guy. I didn’t know that about him coming in, but I’ve learned so much since he got here.

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