Texas quarterback Shane Buechele looks to pass during spring practice Tuesday, March 21, 2016. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Football

Shane Buechele moving ahead of Sam Ehlinger in Texas QB race

Offensive coordinator Tim Beck on Buechele, Ehlinger: 'I like both of them, they’re working really hard'

Posted April 6th, 2017

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Story highlights
  • Receivers Reggie Hemphill-Mapps, Lil'Jordan Humphrey working with the first-team on Thursday.
  • Jean Delance, Denzel Okafor serving as second-team offensive tackles.
  • UT football program to start major construction project inside Moncrief on Friday?

It’s only April, but it appears Shane Buechele is moving ahead of Sam Ehlinger in the Texas quarterback race.

UT coach Tom Herman has acknowledged that Buechele’s full season of collegiate experience shows. Offensive coordinator Tim Beck echoed that thought on Thursday and said Buechele “sees things faster.”

“Defensively, there’s a lot of movement, a lot of things happening,” Beck said. “So he’s able to adapt quicker. He’s able to see it. He understands and knows where the hole might be, where he needs to go with the ball faster than Sam does.”

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Texas quarterback Shane Buechele (7) works on team fundamentals during spring practice on Tuesday, March 7, 2017.
RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

In his first comments to reporters this spring, Beck left no doubt that he likes both players’ potential. Buechele started all 12 games last season and inked his name in various places in the UT freshman record book. Meanwhile, Ehlinger was fighting through an injury-plagued senior season at Westlake.

Herman and Beck would still like to find an experienced graduate transfer. However, both give off the vibe that they’re comfortable rolling with Buechele, who will be a sophomore next season, and Ehlinger, a mid-term enrollee. They’ll do it while knocking on wood that neither gets hurt, of course.

“I do think they’re improving. I like both of them, they’re working really hard,” Beck said. “They’re competing. Their locked in, dialed in. At times, it can be overwhelming, seeing a lot of different things for those guys. But that’s OK, and that’s part of what spring ball is. It’s throw everything at ’em, as much as you can as you install. See what they can handle and what they can’t handle.”

Despite starting all season, Buechele was never really viewed as a commanding leader. Older players, like linemen Paul Boyette or Kent Perkins, filled that void.

Going forward, Herman has made it clear that he wants his quarterback to command the locker room.

“He’s growing in that area certainly,” Beck said of Buechele. “I expect that out of him. I do. I think coach Herman expects that of him. I think he’s learning and growing into that. Sometimes, it’s very hard to lead when you’re overwhelmed. There’s been days where the information I’ve been giving him is like shoving a hose down his throat. It’s hard to lead when you can’t speak.”

More line shuffling: During the portion of Thursday’s practice open to reporters, the first-team offensive line featured — left to right — Connor Williams, Patrick Vahe, Jake McMillon, Elijah Rodriguez and Tristan Nickelson. Also, Reggie Hemphill-Mapps and Lil’Jordan Humphrey were both split out wide.

McMillon is filling in for injured center Zach Shackelford. McMillon proved himself a jack-of-all-trades last season playing multiple positions depending on the need.

“It’s been a ride, but it’s just football when it comes down to it,” McMillon said. “Early in my career, we were thin on one side and I had to step up and create depth at a certain position. That’s just part of it, but it’s been fun.”

The second-team line featured Jean Delance, Alex Anderson, Terrell Cuney, Patrick Hudson and Denzel Okafor.

Welcoming Bill Belichick: The entire UT football program is gearing up for what will be the biggest coaching clinic anyone can remember. New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick will be the keynote speaker. Other breakout sessions will touch on all aspects of coaching football.

This weekend’s event is closed to the public and media, but more than 900 coaches — including some from Canada and Mexico — are expected to attend. That’s 300 more than the previous high, according to a UT spokesman.

Construction to begin?: A UT spokesman would not offer any clues to what may be happening at 7:45 a.m. Friday inside the football building. The program tweeted a photo on Thursday of Herman wearing a hard hat and construction vest while holding a sledgehammer. Fans were asked to tune into Facebook Live and Twitter at that time.

The Longhorns have been telling recruits that a multi-million renovation will soon begin inside the Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletic Center. Artists renderings are circulating around the Internet that showcase what a modernized locker room might look like.

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

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