In searing 100-degree heat with no cloud cover to be found, Texas went through its first workout Friday afternoon.
Practice was about as you’d expect, although there were a disturbing number of dropped balls and lots of yelling at various freshmen The first punt of the day was shanked so hard, the ball sailed out of the practice facility and landed west on Red River St.
Hey, it was the first day.
“I was taking to (linebacker Breckyn) Hager, and said, ‘You’re going so hard, but you’re going in the wrong direction. Just calm down and slow down,’” UT coach Charlie Strong said. “They want to impress the coaches so much. It’s just a matter of slowing down and taking the first step.”
Quarterback Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard both had impressive moments and some misfires.
Swoopes’ best ball of the day was hauled in by a diving Marcus Johnson. Heard’s best throw turned into a fantastic freshmen battle between receiver John Burt and cornerback Davante Davis. Burt got his hands on it first, but Davis came up with the ball after crashing to the ground. Teammates hustled over to congratulate both.
“You just continue to watch them, and you watch today, those guys made the throws,” Strong said. “It’s not going to be hard. It won’t be as tough a decision as we think it will be.”
Strong also didn’t seem too concerned about the various dropped balls by the receivers.
“They’ll make those catches,” Strong said. “We’ve just got to continue to make the throws and they’ll catch it.”
Looking at the line: Granted, it was only the first practice. But the starting offensive line (left to right) featured Marcus Hutchins, Sedrick Flowers, Taylor Doyle, Kent Perkins and freshman Connor Williams.
Williams, who is listed at 6 feet, 5 inches and weighs 283 pounds, could be the starting tackle against Notre Dame. Williams simply crushed safety Dylan Haines on one play. Haines lost his footing, and the mammoth tackle fell on top of him in true pancake fashion.
About that punt: Not much is known about freshman punter Michael Dickson, who launched his first attempt onto the street. Dickson arrived from his hometown Sydney, Australia, just last week while most of the other freshmen have been in Austin all summer.
“I think the first time he had to punt, there wasn’t a lot of people around,” Strong said.
So what did he think when that ball went flying sideways?
“I didn’t say anything. I just looked at him like, ‘Wow! Where’s it going?,’” he said with a laugh.
Jersey numbers: The updated roster was released Friday, and a stunning number of freshmen have single-digit jersey numbers. Burt (No. 1), Kris Boyd (No. 2), DeShon Elliott (No. 4), Holton Hill (No. 5), DeAndre McNeal (No. 6) and Davis (No. 9) all have numbers usually reserved for star players in college.
Also on the jersey front, senior Daje Johnson is back wearing No. 4 after Strong took that number away from him last season. Receiver Lorenzo Joe is now wearing No. 5.
As is UT custom, nobody is wearing jersey numbers 10, 12, 20, 34 and 60.
Briefly: The Horns will practice again Saturday, although that session will be closed to the public and reporters.
Sunday’s practice is open to fans inside Royal-Memorial Stadium. Practice runs from 9:45 a.m. to noon. Parking is available in the Manor Garage on the stadium’s east side. The team will have an autograph session for fans in the north end zone beginning at 1 p.m.
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