• How athletes in different sports have declined

    Athletes’ declines come in many different shapes, sizes, and forms. However, there are a few overarching trends that can be drawn from the majority of the cases.

    For example, athletes who depend on a skill or trait other than athleticism generally tend to have more profound longevity in their careers than athletes who depend on sheer athleticism or physical dominance in some nature. For example, 34-year-old Dirk Nowitzki has aged much more gracefully than 30-year-old Dwayne Wade has. Whereas Nowitzki arguably reached the peak of his game around 30 to 32 years old, Wade’s game peaked from 25 to 27 years old.

    This is most evident in the two head to head NBA Finals matchups between the two athletes. Whereas 24-year-old Wade dominated in a historical fashion while Nowitzki faltered in the 2006 NBA Finals Series, it was 32-year-old Nowitzki who put up the awe-inspiring and historically memorable performance in the 2011 NBA Finals. Wade blossomed early in his career and has already begun to decline as a 30-year-old whereas Nowitzki had arguably reached his prime after the age of 30.

    Likewise, in professional tennis, Roger Federer at the age of 31, is still ranked No. 2 and has won a Grand Slam last year. However, Rafael Nadal, at the age of 26, has only accumulated two Grand Slams over the past two years. It is obvious that the rather effortless and gliding game o Federer has aged with a lot more ease than the powerful and physically demanding game of Nadal. Nevertheless, as history has shown us, losing your athleticism is never the end of the story.

    Michael Jordan, until the age of 30, dominated the game of basketball with sheer athleticism and being the most physically elite specimen on the court. However, as he aged, his game surprisingly didn’t decline. He modified his game to a more skill-based shooting foundation rather than just physically dominating every opponent. In addition, as he aged, the cerebral development made Jordan more clever and efficient than ever before. Whether it be Nadal or Wade, it is never the end of the story when that physical decline begins to set in. Just take a page out of Jordan’s playbook.

  • Early enrollees arrive on campus

    The UT football team officially gained four new members this week, as early enrollees made their way to the 40 Acres. The athletic department issued a statement on Sunday that Jake Raulerson, Tyrone Swoopes, Deoundrei Davis, and Geoff Swaim had all enrolled for the spring semester as the first members of the 2013 recruiting class.

    Of the bunch, Celina athlete Jake Raulerson has perhaps the most ambiguous football future. At 6-foot-5, 262-pounds, Raulerson played offensive tackle in high school, but is listed by mackbrown-texasfootball.com as an outside linebacker/defensive end. Playing defense would probably be Raulerson’s most direct path to immediate playing time, as concerns about his size and ability to gain weight could hinder his development as a Division 1 offensive lineman. Wherever he plays though, Raulerson’s greatest assets may be his intangibles. Coaches and scouting services rave about his leadership ability, and he was named as one of the West’s team captains at the U.S. Army All American Bowl.

    Another AAA Bowl honoree, Whitewright dual-threat quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, comes to Austin as a bit of an enigma. Though some have compared him to Vince Young in terms of physical stature and ability, Swoopes will have to improve his throwing motion in order to reach the heights that Young did while at Texas. In all likelihood, Swoopes will redshirt for the 2013 season, then compete with Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet for the starting job in 2014. Swoopes has not yet arrived in Austin, but should be here by Thursday, according to his Twitter account.

    Cypress Woods’ Deoundrei Davis had earned the right to join Raulerson and Swoopes at the AAA Bowl, but those plans were derailed by injury. Davis tore his ACL in an October 5 game against Cypress Springs. Though the outside linebacker is expected to make a full recovery, his availability for spring practice is in doubt. How fast Davis heals will play a large role in deciding how much of an impact he can make in an already crowded Texas linebacker corps.

    The early enrollee expected to make the most immediate impact, however, is one of the class’ least heralded. Geoff Swaim played most recently at Butte Community College in Oroville, CA. With only two years of eligibility left, Swaim will be expected to perform right away. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end is known mostly for his blocking ability, and functioned primarily as an H-back at Butte. After the December decommitment of Durham Smythe (the pass-catching tight end from Belton), however, Swaim may also play a more significant role in the passing attack than was previously intended by the coaching staff.

  • In a 2000 guest column, Major Applewhite reflected on a quarterback controversy and his burning desire to win

    It was so hard not to doubt.

    A few days after I underwent surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament of my left knee, I looked at the injury, and it was swollen to the size of a volleyball. The pain was so excruciating that I could barely move and there was blood all over it because the doctors couldn’t clean my knee without hurting it.

    Imagine that. You’ve got blood all over your knee and you can’t do anything about it.

    Then on top of that, your whole quad is deteriorated from the tearing of the muscles the doctors do. The surgery left my entire left leg dead and I literally couldn’t do a thing.

    For instance, after I got done at the hospital, I went home to my apartment and I couldn’t walk down three flights of stairs to get to where my car was. That’s such a simple thing to do, yet I always took it for granted.

    I felt completely helpless, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t start to doubt my knee at that point. I mean, how could I not doubt my situation?

    I truly didn’t know what was going to happen to me, and I never knew if I would make it back. There was a chance that I had played my last game at Texas, and the thought was killing me.

    I had put a lot of time and effort into this program, and now there was a chance that was being taken away.

    It was around that point that all of those fears started to set in.

    I had them a little bit when I was taken off of the field at the Cotton Bowl against Arkansas, but at that point, questions were mostly just floating through my mind.

    I wasn’t thinking about the injury or rehab because the pain didn’t bother me as much as the immediate worries.

    I just kept asking myself, how the situation was going to pan out because it was imminent that I wasn’t going to be there for spring training, and along with that, I didn’t know what I would be like when I got back.

    I mean, I left the field a starter and now there was no question that I was going to have to compete for the job with Chris Simms, who’s a very talented quarterback.

    You know, Chris and I get along fine, contrary to what others think, but as a competitive person, I didn’t want to lose what I had as a starter.

    Football has been such a huge part of my life, and after experiencing the things I have in my career, I didn’t want more precious moments to slip away. I want to lead the team back to the Big 12 Championship game, and I want to try to help this team win a national title.

    I had planned on having that opportunity, but now I was scared that I lost it.

    Fortunately, I got rid of the worries, I made it through the ordeal by surrounding myself with the right people.

    The training staff kept giving me motivation by telling me I was ahead of the schedule and there were a lot of prayers with my family, girlfriend and friends.

    A lot of people believed that I could make it back, and by the end of February I was feeling what they believed.

    The last week of spring I was able to drop back and throw the ball. When I did that. I just thought, “Man, it’s still February and I can do this. I’ll be back.”

    You know, I have won some big games, but I can’t remember being more thrilled than that in my career.

    I knew I would be ready to go. I knew I would be ready to compete for the job.

    And that’s all I wanted. I wanted to have the opportunity to compete with Chris.

    Of course, some people might think I am bitter about the whole situation and having to earn the job back, but I’m not.

    There’s so many circumstances in football that you can’t really put a tab on whether one situation is fair or not. There are certain things that are fair about it, and I admit there are some things that seem unfair about it. That’s just how it is.

    Along with that, there’s been situations that have been tough. There’s times when you lie in bed at night and you think about it. I’m human, I don’t just get in front of a camera with a straight-forward glare and pretend nothing is going on. I’m not an android, and when you’re as competitive as Chris and I are, your mind wanders. What if the coaches are doing this, or what if they are trying to do that?

    You even look at the positives of what they are doing, but that’s something you kind of have to keep away from. You don’t want to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

    So you can’t worry about all that, and you just have to keep in mind that you can’t turn this into something larger. We’re not going to let a controversy brew.

    This has got to be a football team, and I don’t think either of us is going to put our personal aspirations ahead of the team.

    Neither one of us is bigger than this University.

    I mean the worst thing I could have done is come out, pouted and not try to compete. There was no way I wasn’t going to do that because that’s not how my mom and dad raised me.

    I have the opportunity to play, and I am going to fight for it.

    I’ve come out here and given it my all, and now I just have to trust the coaches from this point on because it’s their job and they are going to put the best guy out on the field.

    So I’m not worried about the decision. I’ve done everything I can do, I made it through two-a-days and I worked hard during rehab to have a chance to win the job back. I realize that I can only go out and do what I’ve been doing. If that’s not enough, then hey, I gave it my all.

    I’m not going to dislike Chris if he gets the job, and I am sure he would feel the same way if I got it.

    The situation we are in could have easily been a strain on our relationship, but it hasn’t been that way.

    We’ve dealt with all the questions, and, of course, there’s been those polls going around about if it should be me or him.

    But we don’t pay much attention to the polls because they are so misrepresented and people aren’t always right. I mean Bill Clinton was elected President, and look at what a Bozo he turned out to be.

    I don’t pay much attention to polls or majority votes after that one, and neither does Chris.

    We have the same goals for the team, so we have to realize that we are on the same page in that regard.

    But I do want to be out there, just like Chris does. It’s human to want to play, and we wouldn’t be playing if we didn’t want to.

    I would love to have the opportunity because I would have made it back from such a tough injury, and that certainly would say something about my character if I did go out there an show them my knee is fine.

    I want to play more than I have ever wanted to before.

    You only realize what you have until you lose it, and you don’t really realize what you’ve lost until it’s gone.

    I would love this thing to have a happy ending.

    When I first came here, I had no aspirations. It was sort of like if it happens great, if not, no big deal.

    But my goal now is to win a national championship at the University of Texas, and I’m not going to worry about the NFL unless it occurs.

    There are no individual goals.

    I don’t care about the Davey O’Brien Award, the Heisman or any of that stuff.

    I just want to win national championships.

    I mean we had a chance to put the word “champions” next to or name last year at the Big 12 Championship game in San Antonio and we let it get away from us.

    That may not mean a lot to a lot of other people but to me, being able to put champion next to your name means a lot.

    And I think I’ve gone through enough doubts and questions to earn it.

    As told to Damien Pierce, Daily Texan Staff
    Printed on Thursday, August 31, 2000

     

  • Moore wants more football, but not at Texas

    In four of the last five NFL drafts, a Texas defensive tackle has been selected.

    This year, defensive tackle Brandon Moore hopes to join the ranks of former Longhorns Casey Hampton, Lamarr Houston, Henry Melton, Roy Miller, Kheeston Randall and Shaun Rogers, foregoing his senior season to pursue a lifelong dream as an NFL player.

    “I enjoyed my time and really appreciate the opportunity I had to play for the Longhorns, but my lifelong dream has been to play in the NFL and to have a chance to support my family,” he said.  “I’ll definitely miss everyone at Texas and will always pull for the Longhorns.”

    If the name sounds unfamiliar, it may be because Moore only played one season at Texas, following two years at East Mississippi Community College and a year at Alabama just after high school.

    He did, however, make his mark: Moore posted 18 tackles and two sacks in his twelve games this season, five of which he started. His eight tackles for loss ranked fifth on the team.  His six quarterback pressures earned him a tie for third on the team. 

  • Texas cracks Top 20 in both the final AP and coaches' polls

     

    Texas finished No. 19 in the final Associated Press poll and No. 18 in the final USA Today coaches' poll, both released Tuesday following Alabama's win over Notre Dame in Monday's BCS National Championship.
     
    It marks the first time since 2009 that the Longhorns were included in the final polls. They finished No. 2 that season after falling to Alabama in that year's national title game. 
     
    Texas was ranked No. 15 in both the AP and coaches' preseason polls, climbing to as high as No. 12 in the AP poll and No. 9 in the coaches' poll the week after the Longhorns took down Oklahoma State, 41-36, in their Big 12 opener Sept. 29. They were 4-0 at the time but fell in each of their next two contests  to West Virginia, 48-45, and to Oklahoma, 63-21. 
     
    At 4-2, Texas was unranked in both polls, but won its next four games over Baylor, Kansas, Texas Tech and Iowa State, putting the Longhorns at No. 18 in the AP poll and No. 15 in the coaches' polls. But Texas lost consecutive games to TCU and Kansas State to close out its regular season, leaving the Longhorns unranked in the AP poll and at No. 25 in the coaches' poll. 
     
    They overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Oregon State, 31-27, in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29. That victory gave head coach Mack Brown his 10th bowl victory during his tenure at Texas and gave his team a spot in the top 20 of each final poll. 
     

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