Texas held its third practice of the season on Sunday, and the media was granted access to a portion of the drills. Here are three observations:
Freshmen, but experienced
Last season, a handful of Texas freshmen took advantage of a new rule that allows eligible players to play in up to four games and still take a redshirt season. Linebacker Ayodele Adeoye, wide receiver Malcolm Epps and defensive linemen Keondre Coburn and Moro Ojomo all appeared in at least two games in 2018. All four still have four years of eligibility ahead of them.
Will any of them make the leap from experienced redshirt to starter this season? Epps sits behind senior Collin Johnson on the depth chart, but his spring consisted of rave reviews. On Sunday, both Coburn and Adeoye ran with the first-string defense during a pursuit drill. Ojomo earned a second-team rep.
Ingram wants to build on 2018
When he met with the media on Saturday, running back Keaontay Ingram stated that his freshman year was “highly disappointing.” That bit of self-reflection may have surprised some since his 708 rushing yards were the ninth-best total ever for a UT freshman. Ingram, though, seemed to take issue with his per-carry average of just under five yards. Ingram’s average rush ranked 93rd nationally and seventh in the Big 12.
So if last year was a disappointing debut, what would Ingram view as a successful season? “Success? Average more than five yards per carry, that’s all I can say about that,” he said. The Carthage native added that he also wants to score more and show more maturity in the training room.
Ingram will get his shot at success. On Sunday, he continued to lead a line that features only one other running back (junior Daniel Young) with 10 career carries. But what does history tell us about the encore performances of UT’s top freshmen rushers?
Of Ingram’s nine top-10 peers on Texas’ freshman rushing chart, five ran for more yards during their sophomore years. Six of Ingram’s predecessors earned more work. Four of those players improved their rushing averages.
Sophomore slump or sensation?
|Freshman Year||Sophomore Year|
|RB Cedric Benson||223 rushes for 1,053 yards, 12 TDs (2001)||305 rushes for 1,293 yards, 12 TDs|
|QB Vince Young||135 rushes for 998 yards, 11 TDs (2003)||167 rushes for 1,079 yards, 14 TDs|
|RB Ricky Williams||166 rushes for 990 yards, 8 TDs (1995)||205 rushes for 1,272 yards, 12 TDs|
|RB Earl Campbell||162 rushes for 928 yards, 6 TDs (1974)||198 rushes for 1,118 yards, 13 TDs|
|RB Jamaal Charles||119 rushes for 878 yards, 11 TDs (2005)||156 rushes for 831 yards, 7 TDs|
|RB Adrian Walker||193 rushes for 814 yards, 6 TDs (1989)||98 rushes for 449 yards, 6 TDs|
|RB Malcolm Brown||172 rushes for 742 yards, 5 TDs (2011)||61 rushes for 324 yards, 4 TDs|
|RB Charles Hunter||155 rushes for 717 yards, 4 TDs (1985)||57 rushes for 163 yards, 1 TD|
|RB Keaontay Ingram||142 rushes for 708 yards, 3 TDs (2018)||???|
|RB Johnathan Gray||149 rushes for 701 yards, 3 TDs (2012)||159 rushes for 780 yards, 4 TDs|
Texas has six quarterbacks listed on the roster, but only five were spotted in black jerseys on Sunday morning. Tremayne Prudhomme, a 6-1, 190-pound walk-on who redshirted last year, was instead working out with assistant coach Jason Washington and UT’s cornerbacks. That left freshmen walk-ons Sam Saxton and Ben Ballard to share fourth-string reps behind scholarship quarterbacks Sam Ehlinger, Casey Thompson and Roschon Johnson.
Saxton and Ballard both hail from the Austin area. A three-star recruit from St. Michael’s whose grandfather was an All-American at Texas, Saxton walked on after turning down scholarship offers from schools like Southern Miss, Rutgers and Memphis. While quarterbacking Hyde Park to a 6-4 record in 2018, Ballard earned two game balls from the American-Statesman.
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