Freshmen litter new Texas depth chart

AUSTIN, Texas -- Mack Brown made two things clear concerning his heralded freshmen class at his press conference on Wednesday: They can’t sing worth a darn but, boy, can they play.

“We had a little night last night where the freshmen had to sing and they were awful,” Brown said. "Awful. They better make a living in football because they won’t make it in singing.”

From the sounds of it there are several that have at least taken the first step toward doing so.

Fifteen freshmen were listed on the depth chart when it was released to the media on Wednesday. This coming after the Longhorns played 18 freshmen in 2011, which was the most in the country.

Brown admitted that there were others from the 26 freshmen that were signed in 2012 that would probably play against Wyoming on Sept. 1.

One name notably absent from the list was Daje Johnson, who has been one of the talks of camp because of his versatility as both a running back and receiver in Texas’ “T&Z” package with senior D.J. Monroe.

Brown said that Johnson is suspended for the season opener for a violation of team rules.

“He will not be involved in the first depth chart and that will not change,” Brown said.

There were, however, nine freshmen that did make the cut offensively. None really came as a surprise.

Johnathan Gray, high school football’s all-time touchdown leader, is listed as the third string running back behind sophomores Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron, and ahead of senior Jeremy Hills.

“We feel like Johnathan Gray has really shown up in the preseason,” Brown said. “He will play. He’s done well.”

Connor Brewer, who enrolled early after leading Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral to three straight state titles, is listed as the No. 3 quarterback ahead of fellow freshmen Jalen Overstreet, a dual-threat who could help Texas in wild formations.

“Right now Connor would be the guy to go in first ahead of Jalen,” Brown said. “Jalen wasn’t in a throwing offense and Connor was. You need your guy to be able to manage the passing game more than anything else and right now we feel like Connor would be that guy. We are hoping to redshirt both of them.”

Brown did praise Overstreet for improvements made in his throwing motion.

“It’s been amazing to see how much more confident he is,” Brown said. “He really knows it’s down the road for him in the passing game.”

All three freshmen receivers made the cut. Cayleb Jones is listed as the second option with D.J. Monroe at the Z position behind Marquise Goodwin. Kendall Sanders and Marcus Johnson are listed as the second and third options respectively behind Mike Davis at the X position.

Brown said Sanders, who was also recruited as a defensive back by some schools, has really emerged as a threat at receiver.

“He’s playing really well,” Brown said. “He hadn’t run a lot of routes when he started but he’s shown the ability to be tough, make the tough catch, and run after the catch. We think all of our young receivers have a chance to be good and we think all will play.”

Nick Jordan will handle place kicking duties for the time being unless Penn State transfer Anthony Fera is cleared from his hamstring injury.

On the defensive side, linebackers Dalton Santos and Peter Jinkens have both had good fall camps and taken advantage of a lack of depth to put themselves in position to see playing time. Santos is listed as an ‘or’ with Kendall Thompson as the second option at middle linebacker, and Jinkens is listed as an ‘or’ with Thompson as the second string weakside linebacker.

“Dalton Santos and Peter Jinkens had one great scrimmage on Sunday night,” Brown said. “They are stepping it up fast so we have some really good competition.”

Defensive tackle Malcom Brown, cornerback Duke Thomas and defensive end Shiro Davis also made the list. As did Nick Rose on kickoffs and Kyle Ashby, who will handle all snapping duties.

“Major [Applewhite] came up with a great idea last summer to have a kicking camp, and long snappers could come as well,” Brown said. “Kyle walked out there and was incredible with his accuracy and speed and we felt like he was a guy that could come to Texas. It’s worked very well.”

Brown attributes much of the success these freshmen are having with their ability to enroll early, which at least five for the spring semester.