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Breakfast with Bevo, 090115: Here come the freshmen

Posted September 1st, 2015


Good morning. Breakfast is served.

It’s September 1st — 244 down, 121 to go.

And 2 till the Cowboys’ and Texans’ final preseason game. And they’re playing each other.


YESTERDAY: Texas named its starting quarterback (no surprise here, it’s Tyrone Swoopes). The U.S. Open kicked off in NYC — first-round winners included Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal on the men’s side, and both Serena and Venus Williams. The Rangers were blanked by the Padres, 7-0. The Astros cruised past the Mariners, 8-3. Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion‘s hitting streak climbed to 26. Former Notre Dame quarterback Everett Gholson was named the starter at Florida State (again, no surprise). On the fantasy front, Detroit activated RB Joique Bell, Oakland cut RB Trent Richardson and TE Julius Thomas (finger) will miss 4-5 weeks.

TODAY: More Wimbledon. You should be able to catch Roger Federer in a first-round day match (noon, ESPN). The Astros host the Mariners again (7:10) and the Rangers are back at the Padres (9:10). And our own Brian Davis and Ryan Autullo are live-chatting at 11 a.m., out of Bevo Beat. Here’s the link.

TOMORROW: Speaking of chats, AAS columnists Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden will go live at 11 a.m., out of Bevo Beat. And there’s more Astros-Mariners (7:10) and Rangers-Padres (9:10).

Sept. 1 has a sports history. On this date, former heavyweight champion Tommy Morrison died, at 44 (2013); Roger Goodell started his new gig as NFL commissioner (2006); the Baltimore Ravens played their first game, a 17-14 win over the Raiders (1996); MLB commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti died — eight days after banning Pete Rose for life (1989); and American Michael Chang, at 15, became the youngest man to win a U.S. Open match (1987).

Today’s sports birthdays: Sidney Rice (29), Clinton Portis (34), Jason Taylor (41), Zach Thomas (42) and Tim Hardaway (49). Other notables — Gloria Estefan (58), Barry Gibb (69) and Lily Tomlin (76).

Today’s trivia: Birthday boy Sidney Rice played for two NFL teams. Name them. (Answer’s at the end of Breakfast.)

Today’s lead: Texas football.

Well, we knew Texas’ 2015 signing class would make an impact this fall, as reports out of preseason camp have sung the praises for guys like linebacker Malik Jefferson and offensive linemen Connor Williams and Patrick Vahe. But then we saw UT’s opening depth chart on Monday.

It’s littered with freshmen.

Of the 27 players Texas signed in February, 19 made an appearance on the opening depth chart. On offense, there’s WR John Burt, RG Vahe and LT Williams all slated to start Saturday night at No. 11 Notre Dame. On defense, there’s MLB Jefferson starting, and P Michael Dickinson too. Immediate backups from the freshman class are CB Davante Davis, RG Brandon Hodges (juco), FS P.J. Locke III, RT Tristan Nickelson (juco) and OLBs Cameron Townsend and Anthony Wheeler. CBs Kris Boyd and Holton Hill, QB Kai Locksley, WRs DeAndre McNeal and Ryan Newsome, DEs Charles Omenihu and Quincy Vasser (juco) and RB Chris Warren III also are listed.

Will Texas be TOO young this season?

“When you’re at the University of Texas, that’s what you sign on for,” head coach Charlie Strong told us Monday at his first in-season press conference. “You sign up for big games, and this is a big game for us. It’s a freshmen group that’s worked really hard, and they want to play. It doesn’t concern me. I want to see how hard they’re going to play.”

In our college preview section in Saturday’s Statesman, we asked our Davis, Autullo, Bohls and Golden to identify their top three newcomers (freshmen and redshirt freshmen combined) in terms of who’ll make an impact this fall. Davis took Jefferson, Burt and Williams; Autullo had Jefferson, Williams and Bonney; Bohls went with Jefferson, Williams and Burt; and Golden’s were Jefferson, McNeal and Heard.

Texas’ class ranked 13th nationally last year. The Horns’ previous four classes were 8th, 8th, 19th and 12th.

Jefferson, the five-star gem of Texas’ class (he was the No. 1 recruit in the state last year), headlines this freshman class. He looked so promising in the Orange-White scrimmage — 6 tackles, 1 forced fumble and a pass breakup — while playing outside linebacker. But he’s put on the weight and now will start in the middle on Saturday.

With Dalton Santos (ankle) injured, four of the six first Longhorns on the depth chart are freshmen.

Other depth chart tidbits of interest: Texas will start two true freshmen on the offensive line in the season opener for the first time in, well, maybe ever. We asked our own Suzanne Halliburton, the former long-time Horns beat writer, if she could ever remember that happening. She said it hasn’t, at least going back to the John Mackovic years. “When you go on the road and playing in an environment we’re playing in, those two freshmen (Williams, Vahe) are a concern. Here I am a defensive coach, if I see two freshmen linemen, I’m going to blitz you every snap to see if they can block you. We can’t allow them to put the pressure on those two guys.” … Williams’ start at left tackle bumped Marcus Hutchins, who has started 13 games, from the starting lineup. … Sophomore WR Lorenzo Joe didn’t make the printed depth chart, and he let it be known on Twitter (“I’m not even on the depth chart?? Wow.”). … Daje Johnson will return punts, and Johnathan Gray will assist him on kickoff returns. … As expected, former DE Caleb Bluiett has been moved to TE; but McNeal, who signed as a WR and then spent time working at TE, is a WR again. … it was a bit surprising to see Poona Ford ahead of Hassan Ridgeway at DT, but Strong said it was because Ridgeway’s been a bit banged up during camp.

Here’s our staff takeaways from this season’s first Monday presser (Bohls was in Waco):

Autullo: “It was 95 degrees, yet Poona Ford arrived wearing a winter hat. Ford, who’s admittedly shy, said he relied on the lid for comfort in an unnatural setting. The second-year defensive tackle said he’s more nervous speaking with reporters — there were a dozen or so of us — than he’ll be making his first start in front of 80,000-plus fans at Notre Dame Stadium.”

Davis: “Charlie Strong’s eyes nearly popped out of his head when he walked into the Centennial Room. Desmond “Tank” Jackson wore a white dress shirt, black tie and black slacks. “Figured I’d dress up,” Jackson said. Strong couldn’t help but give him some grief. Most players show up on Mondays wearing raggedy T-shirts and shorts before UT officials get them to slip into a burnt-orange golf shirt. But Jackson was TV-ready from the get-go. Jackson wants to make a sharp impression this season after missing most of 2014 with a broken foot. It took three screws and one plate to put the Tank back again.”

Golden: “Strong appears miles more comfortable than he did at this point last year, yet there still has to be some uneasiness when it comes to expectations at the most important position. Both Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard will play in South Bend, and Strong has to be  — as we all are — if they’ll produce the numbers UT needs once those bright lights come on. The Horns could show improvement in several area, but if one of those is not quarterback, it will be a long season.”

So, what’s being written about the Longhorns? Our main story out of Monday was on Swoopes, who’s saying he’s ready. But is he? And Golden brings up a good question: Since Vince Young is working on campus, why hasn’t he reached out to Swoopes with some words of wisdom?

Others out there: Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News wrote about Texas’ surprising move to put Johnathan Gray back there on kickoff returns. Dallas also has various Longhorns backing Swoopes as the starter. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram thinks Swoopes can look to TCU’s Trevone Boykin for a blueprint to success.

AROUND THE BIG 12: On the story that won’t go away, Monday was Art Briles‘ regularly-scheduled game week press conference in Waco. It drew more than 20 writers and columnists, more than double the usual amount. And hardly anyone wanted to talk about Baylor-SMU. That included our Halliburton, who caught us up with the latest, and Bohls, who opined that Baylor just doesn’t get it. The Dallas Morning News, meanwhile, remembered that there’s a game to play on Friday, a fact that the Bears probably are very, very happy about. The Star-Telegram says this sexual assault scandal will define Baylor’s season, at least for those who don’t live in Waco. And, in non-scandal news, Baylor seems pretty jazzed about former QB Chris Johnson‘s move to receiver. Meanwhile, in non-Baylor news … the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal wrote about versatile DB Jah’Shawn Johnson, who’ll play safety but can play any secondary spot. The Oklahoman wrote about the much-anticipated debut of Sooners RB Joe Mixon this Saturday, while columnist Jenni Carlson wrote about Oklahoma State linebacker Devante Averette, who’s overcome injury issues to earn playing time. The Tulsa World asked former OU quarterbacks for the advice they’d give new Sooners QB Baker Mayfield. And get this: Kansas State is asking its student body to sign a “sportsmanship pledge” before they get their tickets this year, the Kansas City Star reported.

OPPOSITION RESEARCH: NOTRE DAME. Very nice read from the Chicago Tribune on Irish linebacker Joe Schmidt‘s unlikely journey from walk-on to team captain. Move over, Rudy.


Football: The Buffalo Bills released rookie defensive end Cedric Reed on Monday, and Redskins coach Jay Gruden said Colt McCoy will play the entire preseason game against Jacksonville on Thursday.

Volleyball: Freshman Morgan Johnson, who played key roles in all three of Texas’ sweeps over the weekend, was named the Big 12’s freshman of the week on Monday. She led the team in hitting percentage and also recorded 11 blocks. Johnson’s the 17th Horn to be the Big 12

Soccer: Texas tied No. 18 Ohio State on Sunday, 0-0. It was goalkeeper Abby Smith‘s second shutout of the season. Texas (1-1-1) next plays Friday night, at UC-Santa Barbara.

Softball: Texas announced Monday that it’ll hold walk-on tryouts for full-time UT students on Sept. 10, from 5-6 p.m. at McCombs Field. Those interested need to register in advance and pick up forms at the Olympic Sports and Compliance office on the fifth floor of the North End Zone. Questions? Call Dreya Johannsen at (512) 232-3410.

Track: Former Longhorn Sanya Richards-Ross was part of Team USA’s silver-winning 1,600-meter relay at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing on Sunday. She ran the opening leg. Leo Manzano was 10th in the 1,500.

Cross country: Both the men’s and women’s teams were ranked No. 2 in their South Central regions to open the season. Last year, the UT men advanced to the NCAA championships. Both teams open their season on Friday vs. Texas State at Balcones Country Club in Spicewood, the women at 6:15, the men at 6:30.

ON SEPT. 1 …

1985: The wreckage of the Titanic was found at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, 73 years after it sunk.

1972: American Bobby Fischer beat Russia’s Boris Spassky to win the world chess championship.

1969: Muammar Gaddafi assumed power in Libya after a succesful coup d’etat

Trivia answer: Sidney Rice played for the Vikings, which drafted him in the second round, from 2007-10 and then for the Seahawks from 2011-13.

OK, Breakfast is over. Thanks for stopping by.

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