The countdown to kickoff is on. Over the 100 days before Texas takes on Maryland, we’re counting down the 100 best players the Longhorns will face in 2017. This series is all about impressing your friends at pregame tailgates and watch parties, so grab a notepad and buckle up.
Who is he?
Someone is going to benefit from USC quarterback Sam Darnold’s arm. Why not the son of NFL running back Michael Pittman? The Trojans are loaded on defense and almost everywhere else, but wide receiver still remains a bit of a question mark. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Darreus Rogers have both moved on, which leaves Deontay Burnett as the likely No. 1 — and a good one at that. Tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe should also get plenty of touches.
And here’s where the eyes start to roll, but despite only catching six passes last year Michael Pittman Jr. showed that he’s not just riding his father’s coattails. The 6-foot-4 former four-star recruit did the dirty work befitting a true freshman bound for productivity. Playing mostly on special teams, Pittman blocked a punt and forced a fumble, made seven tackles and had several key downfield blocks on long runs.
For a glorified reserve, this nearly five-minute highlight package pieced together by a fan on YouTube is oddly compelling.
What should the Longhorns watch for?
A smaller target, Burnett operated mostly in the slot in 2016. Someone must replace the aforementioned Smith-Schuster and Rogers outside, and Pittman spent the spring positioning himself to do just that. Might there be growing pains? Sure. But given Pittman’s proven work ethic and ample time working with one of the best quarterbacks in the country, it’s just as likely he explodes on the scene in time for the Trojans’ showdown with Texas on Sept. 16.
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