Texas holds annual Fan Day at DKR

AddThis

Freshman tightend DeAndre McNeal moves downfield after hauling in a pass at Texas' Fan Day on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Bryce Seifert | Daily Texan Staff

Fans scattered throughout Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Sunday morning.

From the silver metal bleachers, they watched the Longhorns' third practice of the season.

A chorus of 2,000 cheered at catches and hits. Some saw the entire practice, while others caught a glimpse -- most fans left as the temperature increased.

But all of them saw the birth of a team.

“It’s always good to get in the stadium, and then we get out here for the first time,” head coach Charlie Strong said.

It was Texas’ first practice of the season at DKR — the first practice with pads on. There were tackling drills and one-on-one matchups, trash talk and skirmishes.

“I tell them all the time, ‘we have to stay up, and let’s not be silly with the fights,’” Strong said. “You know, you’re going to have a little bumps and a little skirmishes, but the thing about it, we just gotta shake it off and get ready for the next play.”

“You don’t ever want to see fights,” Strong added.

Strong also doesn’t want to see drops.

“We had more dropped balls than we ever have — talk about fundamentals and technique,” Strong said.

Quarterbacks Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard fired tight spirals at receivers. Some passes were high, and others were low. Most were caught, but too many were dropped.

Strong’s message to the receivers?

“We have to get better, we have to improve, we gotta catch the ball,” Strong said. “It’s just way too many drops and it just stops the flow of practice and trying to get some things done on offense.”

Strong wasn’t the only one who noticed the number of drops increase.

“I think they need to work on their hands a little bit,” lifetime Longhorn fan Gary Guardiola said. “Other than that the intensity was there.”

Strong said the one-on-one drills increased the intensity.

Guardiola was one of the couple hundred fans that stayed for the duration of the practice, even as increasing temperature sent hundreds of fans out of their seats.

“I’d come out to this every day if I could,” Guardiola said. “If they had this every day, I’d be out here watching.”

Mateo Macias, a 17-year-old senior at Harmony School of Science, came to DKR with his friend Diego Quezada at 10 a.m.

After the two watched practice, they headed into the bowels of DKR to meet members of the team and get autographs from the players — a tradition at fan appreciation day.

“The whole autograph thing, I thought it was pretty neat,” Macias said. “You know, getting an experience meeting the players and stuff. I thought it was pretty cool.”

Macias proudly shows his Texas Longhorns poster that has a number of players' autographs. It's for his grandfather.

“I’ve been a fan since I was a little kid, and my grandpa, he was a big fan, so I wanted to do this for him,” Macias said. “He’ll be happy.”

Macias and Guardiola were two of the hundreds of fans who lined up for autographs from the tight ends, quarterbacks, special teams, wide receivers and running backs.

Macias, Quezada and Guardiola will have their posters and autographs to hold them over for about a month. But come Sept. 12,  along with the rest of the Longhorns’ fans, they will get to see Texas play at DKR against Rice.

Until then, Strong knows there's work ahead.

“We just gotta continue to improve,” he said.