Texas cornerback Holton Hill runs back an interception for a touchdown in the third quarter against Oklahoma State at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Saturday September 26, 2015. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

BEVO BEAT Football

Spring review: Defensive backs — will young guys flourish at DBU?

Posted April 26th, 2016

Advertisement

This week, CBS Sports took on the task of determining which college football program warrants the title of DBU.

AUGUST 11, 2015 - Texas #31, Jason Hall, during Longhorn practice held at the University of Texas' Frank Denius Field in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday, August 11, 2015. (RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Jason Hall, during Longhorn practice held at the University of Texas’ Frank Denius Field in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday, August 11, 2015. (Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman)

Texas has long claimed that distinction, and sure enough, the Longhorns came out on top, earning more points than anyone for NFL starts, Pro Bowl selections, and draft picks and first-round selections.

So the accreditation remains intact, at least more one more year. Entrusted to continue the tradition is a young crop of players, which includes six sophomores, two juniors, and seniors Dylan Haines, Kevin Vaccaro and Sheroid Evans. Joining them are three 2016 signees, including Nacogdoches’ Brandon Jones, the nation’s top safety.

Advertisement

Tasked with squeezing potential out of the group is new assistant Clay Jennings, who comes from Arkansas to take over for the popular Chris Vaughn, who Texas pushed out over his alleged involvement in a scandal at Ole Miss.

  1. Holton Hill, CB — Oodles of upside, but had some trouble staying in front of receivers this spring. Has the ideal size (6-2, 195) to take on physical receivers.
  2. Davante Davis, CB — Only member of the original Florida Five to ever play a snap for the Longhorns. He basically has the same frame as Hill (6-2, 199). 
  3. Dylan Haines, S — Former walk-on enters his third season as starter. Has more physical tools than his critics give him credit for. Missed the spring game with a leg injury.
  4. Jason Hall, S — Deficient in pass coverage, but is progressing well; defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said Hall was one of the defense’s top three performers in the spring. Missed the spring game with a foot injury.
  5. P.J. Locke, S — Texas grabbed him in the buildup to the 2015 signing day after one of its safety pledges, Jamile Johnson, flipped to Texas Tech. Johnson, who redshirted last season, is expected to help out on special teams for the Red Raiders. Locke might start as Texas‘ nickel corner. 
  6. Kevin Vaccaro, S — Undersized at 5-8, but can lay a whoopin’. Just ask QB Shane Buechele, who shook off a big hit from Vaccaro in the spring game.
  7. Antwuan Davis, CB — Bastrop product is a solid third corner behind Hill and Davis. 
  8. DeShon Elliott, S — Light has yet to come on for prized 2015 recruit, but it’s still early.
  9. Kris Boyd, CB — See Elliott.
  10. John Bonney, S — Tends to get lost in coverage and lacks the physical presence his coaches desire for his position. 
  11. Sheroid Evans, CB — Sixth-year senior refuses to call it a day even after two ACL tears. Hasn’t appeared in a game since October, 2013, so it’ll make for a good story if he takes a snap this fall.

2016 freshmen: No safety job is safe once Brandon Jones gets onto campus. The nation’s top-ranked safety will probably be on the field as early as the opener against Notre Dame. It’s anyone’s guess how high he’ll ascend from there, but if his transition is smooth, multi-year starters Haines and Hall won’t have much room for slippage. Also, cornerback Eric Cuffee, of Waco, will probably be needed for depth to offset the transfers of Bryson Echols and Jermaine Roberts. At safety, Alief Elsik’s Chris Brown looks to be a redshirt candidate or a special teams contributor.

2015 review: Within a month or so it became apparent freshmen Holton Hill and Davante Davis were the team’s best cornerbacks. Learning on the job, they had some successes and both of them were named honorable mention All-Big 12. Haines and Hall were the mainstays at safety, silencing the hype that engulfed freshman DeShon Elliott, who never became more than a special teamer after suffering a fluke injury in camp as a spectator to a Bull in the Ring battle. The secondary’s best player, Duke Thomas, might have also been the MVP of the defense. He’s got a decent shot to be taken in this week’s NFL Draft.

News on Bevo Beat is free and unlimited. Access to the rest of Hookem.com is included with an Austin American-Statesman subscription in addition to Statesman.com and the ePaper edition. Subscribe today at statesman.com/subscribe.

Comments