Over the past few days, we’ve broken down both the offensive and defensive sides of the Texas Longhorns depth chart. Today, we’ll take a look at the special teams units and the impact they’ll have on the overall success of Mack Brown‘s squad in 2012.
No. 1- Quandre Diggs No. 2- Jaxon Shipley
These two guys are the obvious choices to return kicks for Texas this fall, but that doesn’t mean that the collective breath of 101,000 each Saturday won’t be held when they do so. Diggs and Shipley are two of the most talented athletes on the Texas roster and have the type of speed that could turn an average punt return into something much more substantial.
With Shipley’s nagging injury issues, however, the risk run by Brown in putting one of his most explosive athletes in harm’s way isn’t to be taken lightly. Any freak injury on a punt return could be devastating to a Texas wideout corps that needs everyone at 100 percent.
As important as Shipley is to the Texas offense, Diggs is to the Texas defense.
Using these two guys in the punt return game is a measured risk, but one that should show consistent dividends for Texas this fall.
No. 1- D.J. Monroe, Mykelle Thompson
No. 2- Quandre Diggs, Marquise Goodwin
Speed, speed, speed–it’s everywhere among these four guys. While Monroe has slipped down the depth chart, and likely won’t see many touches apart from the kicks he returns, there’s no doubt he can break one open at any minute. He’s always been a great athlete, just one that Texas continually struggles with about how to use.
Mykelle Thompson broke a 100+ yard kick return for a touchdown in the Spring Game and will also see some time as a reserve defensive back this fall. The former high school quarterback has electrifying speed that could lead to some big plays.
We already espoused Diggs’ qualities above, and anyone who was watching this summer’s Olympic Games already knows what type of athlete Goodwin is. Goodwin is the fastest man on the Texas team and should see plenty of targets as a wideout as well.
Kickers / Punters:
Kickers- Nick Rose / Nick Jordan
Punter: Alex King
Texas is being forced to re-load in the kicking game this fall after the departure of do-everything guy Justin Tucker, who just beat out Billy Cundiff for the Baltimore Ravens’ job.
True freshmen Rose and Jordan have both impressed the Texas coaching staff in the spring and early fall workouts. Rose is consistently booming kickoffs through the end zone at DKR and Jordan has shown a solid leg as well in scrimmages via extra points and field goals.
The x-factor is Penn State transfer Anthony Fera, who for now appears to be an afterthought and isn’t really being discussed much around the Forty Acres.
Duke transfer King should be plenty solid when it’s necessary to punt and maintain an edge in the field position battles.
Special teams can never be taken lightly and this fall they may be more important that ever in a very tight and deep Big 12 Conference.
Kris Hughes is the College Football Network Manager for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.
Kris is also the host of Rant Sports Radio on the Blog Talk Radio Network Wednesday evenings at 8 Central Time.