BEVO BEAT

Texas notebook: DeShon Elliott inches closer to Earl Thomas with tone-setting interception

Posted October 28th, 2017

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WACO — This time, DeShon Elliott scored the early knockout.

Elliott returned an interception 43 yards for a touchdown in a 38-7 rout of Baylor on Saturday. Five days after he was named a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award, the junior safety’s eight tackles were also tied with linebacker Malik Jefferson for the team high.

Elliott gave UT a lead it wouldn’t relinquish on the game’s third play. Baylor quarterback Zach Smith’s third down throw deflected off his receiver’s hands and the wayward ball was corralled by Elliott. He then followed a contingent of defenders-turned-blockers into the end zone.

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The interception was Elliott’s sixth of the season, which places him two shy of Earl Thomas’ single-season mark. He also became the eighth Longhorn to return two interceptions for touchdowns in the same year. (Teammate Holton Hill accomplished the same feat over UT’s first two games).

“That’s a dude right there, that’s a real guy,” defensive end Charles Omenihu said. “(Elliott’s interception) was a jump-start kind of deal. it’s pedal to the medal, full go.”

Before his breakout this fall, Elliott’s claim to fame occurred during UT’s 23-17 win at Baylor in 2015. During a mid-game skirmish, cameras caught him shadow-boxing with no Bear in his immediate vicinity. Earlier in the week, UT junior Patrick Vahe recalled to reporters his watching of “DeShon fighting a ghost.”

Elliott didn’t hear about that comment until after Saturday’s game, and he interrupted Vahe’s post-game interviews to jokingly chide the offensive lineman. He was then asked if his teammates will ever stop razzing him about the incident.

“I guess not,” Elliott said.

Michael Dickson-Texas Longhorns-Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week
Texas punter Michael Dickson against Notre Dame at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Sept. 4, 2016. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Off day: The Thorpe Award is given annually to the country’s top defensive back. Elliott, though, is not the only Longhorn in contention for a national award.

Texas punter Michael Dickson is expected to be a front-runner in the conversation for the Ray Guy Award. A finalist for the top punting prize last year, he entered the week with a NCAA-leading average of 49.0 yards per punt.

Dickson punted six times and averaged 44.5 yards. While his average will dip a bit, his game wasn’t a bad one. That average of 44.5 yards would rank in a tie for 19th nationally.

UT linebacker Malik Jefferson (46) and defensive back P.J. Locke III (11) converge on Baylor receiver Tony Nicholson (13) at Waco’s McLane Stadium on Oct. 28, 2017. Locke later left the game with an ankle injury. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Injury update: Texas nickelback P.J. Locke III suffered a first-half ankle injury. He was ruled out before halftime and he was seen using crutches after the game. UT senior Antwuan Davis replaced Locke on the field and recorded three tackles.

Texas coach Tom Herman said freshman running back Toneil Carter was under evaluation for a head injury. Carter’s 70 rushing yards led all players.

Hill also was evaluated for a head injury following a first-half tackle of Baylor running back Trestan Ebner. He returned to the game later in the second quarter. One week after Elliott referred to him as “a first-round cornerback,” Hill finished the game with six tackles, a forced fumble and a pass breakup.

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