Texas junior Lil’Jordan Humphrey announced on Tuesday that he will enter the NFL Draft. He will attempt to become the first UT receiver drafted since Marquise Goodwin was a third-round pick in 2013.
While Humphrey is chasing history and his professional aspirations, Texas needs to find his replacement. Humphrey started 10 times during the 2018 season as UT’s slot (or “H”) receiver. He led the Longhorns in receptions (86), receiving yards (1,176) and touchdown catches (nine) while also rushing for a touchdown and throwing a scoring pass.
In addition to Humphrey, Texas is also losing Jerrod Heard to graduation. So, some blanks need to be filled in when it comes to the “H” position on UT’s depth chart. With 13 scholarship-holding receivers on its projected 2019 roster, Texas has some intriguing options for the role of “H” receiver:
- Joshua Moore: A sophomore-to-be, Moore has limited experience in the slot. He caught seven passes this fall, one of which resulted in a 27-yard touchdown against USC. Listed at 6-1 and 170 pounds, Moore’s freshman year was limited to six games due to a season-ending shoulder injury.
- D’Shawn Jamison: Texas converted Jamison into a receiver during his freshman year, and he ended the year as Humphrey’s back-up on the depth chart. Jamison, however, doesn’t have much experience on offense. He was signed as a four-star cornerback and his services may be needed back on defense since the Longhorns could lose up to four starters in the secondary.
- Jake Smith: The six-foot, 185-pound Smith is both the Gatorade National Player of the Year and a four-star signee. He collected 1,070 receiving yards and 741 rushing yards during his final year of high school in Arizona. It should be noted that only four freshmen have ever recorded 40 catches at UT, and Mike Davis’ 47-reception campaign in 2010 is a freshman-class record.
- Jordan Whittington: Texas fans have been salivating over Whittington’s potential since he scored six touchdowns in last month’s Class 4A, Division II title game. Whittington averaged 19.3 yards per catch and 14.3 yards per carry during his senior year at Cuero High. Currently 6-1 and 205 pounds, Whittington will be on campus for the upcoming spring semester.
- Jordan Pouncey: The 6-1, 205-pound Pouncey will be a redshirt sophomore in 2019, and he has yet to record a collegiate catch. Pouncey has worked out as a slot receiver during his time at Texas. When he signed with UT in 2017, he was regarded as a three-star talent.
What does Texas coach Tom Herman want out of a slot receiver? When asked last spring, Herman said that “I think ideally, you would like a guy that can motion in the backfield and do some things out of the backfield, mainly on some speed sweep-type things but also be able to hand the ball off on other things. You’d like a guy that is quick and fast enough to make plays in space in the RPO (run-pass option) game, on bubbles and quick-hitters, if you will.”
Herman, though, has also stressed the importance of versatility and his desire to simply play his best players. The 6-4, 225-pound Humphrey, after all, wasn’t the size of a typical slot receiver. That philosophy also explains why Humphrey replaced an injured Collin Johnson as the “X” receiver for a game at Texas Tech that featured Heard, the back-up “Z” receiver, running primarily out of the slot.
If Texas simply wants its best receivers on the field, that could open up the possibility of a veteran outside receiver like John Burt or Devin Duvernay sliding into the slot. Recruiting a graduate transfer could provide UT with another stop-gap solution.
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