Word of Mouth: 15 Freshmen

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Freshman cornerback Quandre Diggs returns a kick against Oklahoma, in a 55-17 loss on Saturday in the Cotton Bowl.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

 In honor of the Longhorns’ freshmen-centric team, I present to you 15 thoughts — all about the rookies — to chew on.

1. It’s tough to put into context the impact cornerback Quandre Diggs has had on this team. Yes, he had a rough go-around Saturday against OU’s Ryan Broyles, but he’s been a big presence in the secondary this year and it’s tough to imagine where the pass defense might be without him. Most freshmen on this campus face daunting opponents named Alarm Clock and Hangover. Diggs gets Broyles one weekend and Justin Blackmon the next.

2. The most important freshman on this team though has been running back Malcolm Brown. He has a chance at gaining 1,000 yards and gives the Longhorns a rushing attack they haven’t had since 2007.

3. But the most fun to watch might be Jaxon Shipley, who has exceeded expectations and leads the team in receiving. He looks quicker than even his older brother, Jordan did, which makes us wonder how ridiculously good the elder Shipley might have been had he not had knee surgery his freshman season.

4. David Ash has certainly been impressive and he definitely throws the best ball on the team. But I’m not sure if he’s ready for the full-time job at quarterback just yet. I know I’m in the minority on this one, but I think it’s too early to give up on Case McCoy.

5. Let’s make numbers 5 through 9 a list of five freshmen who need more playing time. We’ll start with linebacker Steve Edmond, who could play right now and immediately be the best run-stopping backer on the team. This week might not be the best time for that, though, as the Longhorns face pass-happy Oklahoma State.

6. Joe Bergeron needs more touches because he averages almost five yards a carry. Find some time for the bruiser.

7. Sheroid Evans, Mykkele Thompson, Josh Turner — one of these defensive backs needs to see some action. Texas will be without Blake Gideon and maybe Kenny Vaccaro next year — should Vaccaro chose to go pro — and would be wise to begin breaking in the youngest members of
the secondary.

8.We heard a lot about Desmond Jackson during fall camp, with defensive coordinator Manny Diaz even suggesting he may start. Stuck behind Kheeston Randall, Jackson hasn’t seen as much time as some thought he might. With Randall gone next season and Texas’ lack of another impactful defensive tackle, it’s time to get Jackson some experience.

9. With Tray Allen struggling and freshman guard Sedrick Flowers nursing an injury, expect to see more and more of Josh Cochran, a 6-foot-6 tackle from Hallsville.

10. Here’s a tweet from future UT freshman, Austin High wideout Cayleb Jones: “If Texas had [Auburn wide receiver] Emory Blake (Jones’ cousin and a grad of AHS) and [A&M wide receiver] Ryan Swope they would have beat the Sooners.” Don’t think the Longhorns could have beat the Sooners with those two but, yes, Blake and Swope (a Westlake High School grad) were two recruiting misses by Texas.

11. Here’s a player who needs to find his freshman form: Jackson Jeffcoat doesn’t have a sack so far this year. Last year, he had 2.5 through five games.

12. Of all the 23 true freshmen this year, only three haven’t played and appear headed for a redshirt season: tight end M.J. McFarland and offensive linemen Garrett Greenlea and Marcus Hutchins. To put things in perspective, only five true freshmen played in 2003.

13. While there are many true freshmen putting in tons of work this year, there aren’t many redshirt freshmen making their mark. Dominic Espinosa is the only starter out of that group and Darius Terrell sees some time at h-back.

14. If it’s not for this class of 2011, Texas doesn’t win against Brigham Young — Brown and Shipley had big offensive days, Ash rotated in at quarterback and Diggs had a game-sealing
interception.

15. The large volume of freshmen in big roles this year is also a big reason as to why the Longhorns got walloped by Oklahoma, though. That’s expected; the growing pains are worth it and the future seems pretty bright.

Printed on Wednesday, October 12, 2011 as: Colleciton of 15 thoughts about Texas freshmen