The Longhorns’ loss of seven players, a few of whom were expected to have important roles in 2014, over a 48-hour span last week poses an obvious question for Texas football fans: How will Charlie Strong and his staff fill the void left by the dismissed athletes?
While none of these dismissals have been officially confirmed by the program, it appears an announcement is merely a formality. OrangeBloods has reported that the dismissed Texas players will all get a chance to meet with Strong on Monday, where the dismissals are expected to become official.
Kendall Sanders and Josh Turner were both expected to start for Texas, Joe Bergeron was likely to continue to play an important role in the Longhorn backfield, and Jalen Overstreet, Chevoski Collins and Montrel Meander were each poised to add necessary depth at their respective positions. The Longhorns also lost senior linebacker Kendall Thompson, who is leaving for medical reasons. In addition to those who have already been given the boot, ESPN’s Max Olson has reported that as many as five more players may soon be facing dismissals for violating team rules.
But even without additional departures, Texas is already looking thin at some key positions. Turner was likely slated to be one of the starting safeties for the Longhorns while Collins was set to be his backup, but with both off the team, Texas will likely start sophomore Adrian Colbert at one of the safety spots. True freshmen such as Edwin Freeman or John Bonney will likely get a chance to play significantly from day one.
The loss of Bergeron and Overstreet will cripple Texas’ depth at running back, especially if junior Johnathan Gray or senior Malcolm Brown get injured, as they have in the past. Other than that, Texas only has true freshmen Donald Catalon and D’Onta Foreman at the position, though Foreman has yet to officially qualify.
At receiver, Texas returns its top two options in senior Jaxon Shipley and junior Marcus Johnson, but the loss of Sanders means one of the younger players will have to step up to the position, though Texas has plenty of potential options from the 2013 or 2014 recruiting classes.
Finally, the loss of Thompson means some loss of depth at linebacker but isn’t particularly devastating for the program. Texas returns crucial starters in senior Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmonds, whose health will determine the vitality of the position.
Obviously, the final depth chart will depend on who is left on the team at the start of the season, but it is clear that Strong isn’t messing around with the rules. Right now, none of Texas’ losses are particularly brutal, but if they lose more players, especially potential starters, 2014 may be filled with a lot more downs than ups.