Today’s question, which will be handled by columnists Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden and beat writers Brian Davis and Ryan Autullo:
No. 4: Which freshmen should we really keep an eye on for 2014?
BOHLS: WITH THIS TEAM, WATCH SEVERAL.
“A bunch of them. Among the more prominent ones are quarterback Jerrod Heard, wide receivers Armanti Foreman and Lorenzo Joe, running back Donald Catalon, defensive tackle Poona Ford, safety Edwin Freeman and defensive back Jason Hall. Heard should be the backup. Both of the wideouts as well as Garrett Gray could press for playing time. Catalon will be needed to spell Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray. Freeman and Hall are physical players who should contribute a lot on special teams.”
GOLDEN: HEARD WILL BE A PART OF THE OFFENSE.
“Jerrod Heard will be a part of this offense. I expect David Ash to be the main man behind center, but Heard could be a great change of pace. Wideouts Armanti Foreman and Lorenzo Joe will play a lot, as will running back Donald Catalon. On the defensive side, Poona Ford will get a chance to show what he can do when tackles Tank Johnson and Malcom Brown need to rest.”
DAVIS: DEPTH WILL FORCE MANY TO PLAY.
“I have a funny feeling the Texas coaching staff is going to need a lot out of this freshman class. First, you have receivers Armanti Foreman and Lorenzo Joe. Heck, don’t rule out running back D’Onta Foreman given the thin depth in the backfield. Defensive tackle Poona Ford is doing well, but he hasn’t blown away people like conventional wisdom had him doing. Safety Jason Hall will get a lot of playing time, as I think Edwin Freeman will see some, too. One thing about Charlie Strong. He’s very clear on this issue. If you can get on the field, you get to play NOW. No redshirting if he thinks you can help the team win.”
AUTULLO: FOREMAN WILL DO BIG THINGS.
“Charlie Strong says the further a freshman stands from the ball, the closer he is to getting on the field. In other words, newcomers at skill positions, where speed and athleticism go a long way, are more prepared to play immediately than linemen and quarterbacks. With that in mind, I expect Armanti Foreman to do big things. I liked the receiver from Texas City the first time I saw him in practice. He’s fast and explosive and does everything in one, fluid motion. He’ll make plays this year. And safety John Hall has been repping with the first-team defense, which is great for him but a concern for Texas. The safety unit is weak, and it was a matter of time before a freshman — be it Hall or someone else — supplanted walk-on strong safety Dylan Haines. I can see a revolving door back there. As hyped as he is, my expectations are low for defensive tackle Poona Ford. At least for this year. His is not a position of need for the Longhorns.”
How many true freshmen have played over the past five years? Before last season, Mack Brown relied on freshmen. A lot:
2013: 3 of 13 freshmen played.
2012: 16 of 26 played.
2011: 18 of 22 played.
2010: 12 of 24 played.
2009: 10 of 21 played.
In 2012, Texas had only nine scholarship seniors, which was the fewest in the Big 12 and the fourth-fewest in the nation. Last year, when only three freshmen ended up playing (quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, wide receiver Jacorey Warrick and offensive tackle Kent Perkins), there were 14 scholarship seniors — six on offense, six on defense and two on special teams.
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