Jordan Shipley

Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

In summer 2003, Jordan Shipley, senior receiver for Burnet High School, committed to Texas. 

Shipley was a four-star recruit who held nearly every Texas high school receiving record. But few could predict that Shipley’s commitment would have a profound effect on the Longhorn program for roughly the next decade. After six seasons, Shipley left his mark as arguably the greatest receiver to ever play at Texas.

Roughly a month after Jordan exhausted his collegiate eligibility, the Longhorns received the commitment from his brother, Jaxon Shipley, who, at the time, was a junior at Brownwood High School.

Now Jaxon Shipley, set to play his final game at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Thursday, acknowledges the end of his collegiate career as the end of an era.

“It’s going to be pretty sad, especially for me being around here pretty much my whole childhood — watching my brother play and then me coming through here,” Shipley said.

Jaxon Shipley knew he wanted to follow in his brother’s footsteps to Austin since Jordan’s early playing days at Texas. Growing up around the football program made some game-day routines very special for him.

“I still remember the first time I came out of the tunnel against Rice, and it was surreal,” Shipley said. ”It was amazing. It’s the same way every time I walk out; it’s just this awesome experience.”

The Texas faithful will remember the Shipley brothers for their steady hands. Those hands have led to prolific production in their careers, as the brothers currently sit at first and third places on Texas’ all-time career-receptions list.

Despite playing with four different starting quarterbacks in his career, “Mr. Reliable,” as head coach Charlie Strong calls Shipley, enters Wednesday’s game 25 receptions away from placing only behind his brother.

Both brothers wore number eight during their careers on the 40 Acres — just another connection between the two receivers that Jaxon Shipley relishes.

“I couldn’t have planned it any better,” Shipley said. “Me being able to come here [to] the same school my brother came to. Me being able to wear the same number he wore.”

However, the brothers are not the only Shipleys to be associated with Texas football in recent years. In 2013, their father, Bob Shipley, served as a football analyst for the Longhorn program.

Jaxon cherished being able to spend so much time with his father last season and knows how fortunate he was to have the opportunity.

“It was really cool to be able to have my dad up here and just know that I can just walk into his office anytime I want to talk about something,” Shipley said. “It was a really cool year and something I know, [for] both of us, it’s a year that is really special to us.”

Now Jaxon Shipley prepares to finish a chapter of his life, and, with it, the Shipley chapter of Longhorn football. And while his teams never were as successful as his brother’s, the younger Shipley has created plenty of memories.

“I’ve just had a great experience,” Shipley said. “It’s been rough here and there, but overall, I wouldn’t trade if for anything.”

Photo Credit: Joe Capraro | Daily Texan Staff

For any Texas football fan, the names McCoy and Shipley go together like peanut butter and jelly. But this isn’t the older McCoy and Shipley sibling combination. Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley are gone. Instead, the aerial attack is led by the younger duo: senior quarterback Case McCoy and junior wide receiver Jaxon Shipley. They are the pair could make or break the Longhorns’ Big 12 title chances, and Case McCoy always seems to look to Jaxon Shipley when he needs a completion, especially in third down situations.  

After taking over for junior quarterback David Ash, McCoy had trouble converting on third down. He completed only 9-for-17 passes on third down against Kansas State and Iowa State, and only a few of those resulted in first downs. What’s more telling is that he only completed one of three passes targeted at Shipley, his supposed safety blanket. 

Since then, McCoy seems to have settled into his starting role. He has completed 13 of his 17 attempts to Shipley in the games since Iowa State, including a perfect 4-for-4 against Oklahoma and Kansas. But this revamped McCoy-Shipley duo never looked better than it did Saturday, as the pair made a multitude of crucial plays in the Longhorns’ overtime win against the Mountaineers. 

The Longhorn offense sputtered well into the third quarter of the game, converting only 1 of 11 third down attempts. McCoy especially struggled, completing only 1 of 10 passes on third down. With the game and Texas’ Big 12 title hopes hanging in the balance, McCoy adjusted and threw to Jaxon Shipley. The two put on a clinic as the game wound down, converting three straight third down conversions, including a beautiful pass-and-catch for a 10-yard touchdown on third and goal midway through the fourth quarter. 

No completion was more important than their last. With barely more than a minute left in the game and the Longhorns facing fourth-and-seven, McCoy found Shipley 9 yards down field, extending the game and giving Texas the opportunity for a game-tying field goal.

It is obvious how comfortable these two feel playing together. Against West Virginia, McCoy was 5-for-8 on third down when looking for Shipley and 2-for-9 when throwing to anyone else. But this trend isn’t an isolated. This season, McCoy is 13-for-20 when looking for Shipley on third down, and 22-for-42 throwing to all other receivers — a 13 percent difference in completion percentage.

Mack Brown wants to lean on the running game to pace the Texas offense, and he should. But with talented sophomore running back Johnathan Gray out for the year with a ruptured Achilles, the Longhorns will likely have to take to the air more often. When they do, be sure to keep an eye on Shipley — McCoy will. 

Former UT wide receiver Jordan Shipley, speaks Thursday evening at Hyde Park Baptist Church. He discussed his faith and how it has played a large role in his NFL career.

Photo Credit: Andreina Velazquez | Daily Texan Staff

Jordan Shipley has a bared a number of hits during his football career that have kept him on the sidelines, but he said he continues to push through because of his faith.

Shipley, UT alum and Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver, visited Hyde Park Baptist Church Thursday evening to talk to a group about his faith and how it impacts his view on teamwork. Shipley was a two-time All-American receiver for the Longhorns, where he broke multiple records. He graduated in 2010 and was drafted in the third round of that year’s NFL Draft.

The Daily Texan sat down with Shipley for a Q&A about how his faith has played into his football career.

The Daily Texan: During your time at UT, you were well-known for both your skills on the field and how dedicated you were to your faith. How has your faith impacted your career?
Jordan Shipley:
I don’t know that it impacted my career. I think it impacted every part of my whole life and I think that’s why I am where I am at. I don’t think of it as something that impacted my career. I think of it as my whole life and I ended up where I’m supposed to be.

DT: During your speech, you said you were very hard-headed and that God helped you set your priorities straight while dealing with your injuries. Did you place your faith in God during those moments?
JS:
Yeah, that was kind of a time where I thought I was going to come in to play right off the bat. I felt like I was able to play, but like I said I had two years in a row during which I couldn’t do anything. I feel like that was a time where I learned a lot and kind of helped me figure out who I was a little bit more.

DT: I’m sure everyone wants to know – how is your knee doing?
JS:
It’s doing good. I’m pretty much healed. I’m running around and lifting weights. I’m almost ready to go.

DT: You led a different lifestyle in college than is expected from a star football player. Mack Brown was quoted saying you and Colt McCoy were what every parent wanted their children to grow up to be and that you set a new standard for the college football player. Do you feel this is true about the life that you led in college?
JS:
I’m living the same lifestyle now. I wasn’t really trying to. I was just trying to be myself, but there are a lot of players that will take a stand on their faith. That just shows you that most of those players are not defined by what sport they’re playing. Football is not just who they are.

DT: You said you maintained the same lifestyle, and now you are in the national limelight and have kids that look up to you as a role model. Has this reinforced your current lifestyle and helped you maintain your beliefs?
JS:
I think part of that is that you know you have a lot of people watching what you do. Then you’ve got the media side of it on top of that. You have to be very careful to keep being the person that you are especially, in public. [My lifestyle] is real for me, and it doesn’t change either way. I do think that you’ve got to be cognizant that you’ve got younger kids watching what you are doing.

DT: Who has been a key spiritual influence in your life?
JS:
Oh man, a lot of people. Early on, it was my granddad and my dad. As I got older and moved away, different preachers and my wife made a big impact.

DT: What are some of your best memories from your football career at the University?
JS:
I have a bunch of good memories, but the 2008 Oklahoma game is probably one of my best memories. And when Hunter [Lawrence] made that kick to go to the national championship was a good one too. It was great to be able to play at the national championship.

Printed on Friday, March 30, 2012 as: Shipley combats setbacks through faith

Daily Texan file photo.

Photo Credit: Lauren Gerson | Daily Texan Staff

Case McCoy and Jaxon Shipley know the comparisons to their older brothers will never cease.

Both have big shoes to fill at the same program where Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley set records, won games, gained cult followings and blazed a trail for their younger siblings to follow.

Yes, the next generation of McCoy-to-Shipley is just getting started at Texas. The new legacy, however, will begin where the old one ended.

The Rose Bowl.

McCoy will make his first career start at quarterback on Saturday at UCLA. He’ll look to find Shipley open early and often as the two try and build on their breakout performance against BYU a week ago, when they hooked up for two completions for 34 yards.

The boyhood friends will start together for the first time on the same field where their older brothers played their final college game, a heart-breaking loss to Alabama in the 2009 BCS National
Championship game.

Their moment is finally here.

“We really dreamed of playing together for a long time,” McCoy said.

But don’t expect the kids to succumb to the pressure of matching their brothers’ performances on the field.

“We both have big shoes to fill,” Shipley said. “But that’s something that I think is only pressure if you see it as that.

“If you get caught up in the pressure side of things, trying to feel like you need to live up to what your brother has done — me and Case both — you can get caught up in that and we really don’t worry about that.”

Wherever they go in Austin, though, Case and Jaxon are constantly reminded of their older brothers’ presence and the deep adoration the fans had from them. Still, they should have a decent idea of what they’re in for.

This week, a chalkboard outside a clothing store on the Drag read, “McCoy to Shipley, #winning.”

The expectations are high, fair or not. But that’s what drives the young McCoy.

“The chip is on Case’s shoulder all the time,” said senior left guard David Snow. “You kind of have that big brother syndrome a little bit that I can see. Your brother was a Heisman candidate here, an All-American, you have big shoes to fill.”

Yes, the relationship between Colt and Jordan is well documented. But Case and Jaxon are out to forge their own story.

They remember playing pick up games at Abiline Christian University together when they were just eight years old. Countless fishing and hunting trips later, and Case and Jaxon are roommates at Texas, just like their older siblings. Yet things are a little different with these two.

“We’re probably a little bit closer,” Shipley said. “We’ve been with each other for a long time. Colt and Jordan really didn’t know each other as young as we did.”

When they’re not on the practice field late at night getting extra work in, McCoy and Shipley relax over music.

“I love to play guitar,” Shipley said. “That’s probably my favorite thing to do. When I get some time off, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll sit in there and play guitar.”

But while his older brother was known for writing his own songs on the guitar, Jaxon prefers to leave the singing to someone else.

“I haven’t quite gotten to that point yet,” Shipley said. “I’m not quite as fancy as he is, but hopefully some day I’ll be able to do that.”

Instead, Case handles the vocals.

The new Longhorn duo, though, wouldn’t be where they are now without a little help from their brothers.

If anything comes up, Case knows exactly who to call.

“I look to [Colt] for a lot of things,” he said. “He’s been here, he’s done this and he knows how it goes. He encourages whatever I need to do.”

Shipley elected to work out with Jordan this spring, rather than enroll early at Texas and take part in spring drills. Not a bad tutor, considering Jordan’s success as a wide receiver with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals.

The two spent long days on the practice field, running routes and catching passes. They even worked in the occasional race, tying three times in the 60-yard dash.

There’s just no separating them.

“Most of my game is probably from [Jordan],” Shipley said. “He’s taught me so much on the mental side, just having a strong mind and not letting things get to your head, especially when things aren’t going your way.”

But Jaxon learned more than just mental toughness from Jordan. They mirror one another on the football field. Co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite says it’s “eerie” watching tape of them because of how similar they look.

Case, too, resembles his older sibling. Both play with a chip on their shoulder, a mentality fostered in high school and fortified in college.

“Their mannerisms are about the same, coming from a small country town,” Snow said.

When head coach Mack Brown and his staff where recruiting McCoy, they weren’t exactly sure which brother they were watching.

“If you put him in Colt’s number [12] and you throw out the names, they looked a lot alike,” Brown said. “He’s very smart, accurate, he’s got any easy ball to catch and he can make plays with his feet, those things
are similar.”

Case and Jaxon are making their first trip back to the Rose Bowl since watching their brothers play their final game in burnt orange at the same venue.

This time, though, they won’t be in the stands. They’ll be on the field. Playing the same game that brought them together as kids.

Missed our live chat? We’ve got you covered. Make sure you join us next week at 4 p.m.

Double Coverage Editor Sameer Bhuchar:
Hey there, Double Coverage fans! We are excited about getting our fourth Chat underway! Once again, we are joined by Austin Laymance and Christian Corona ... the UT football beat writers.

Question From LateGameHero:
What is it about Texas and its slow starts?

Associate Sports Editor Austin Laymance:
The new system — it takes some time for the players to adjust and get used to it at game speed. There are a lot of new plays, formations and schemes being used this year, so it was expected for Texas to start slowly.
Football beat writer Christian Corona:
Texas has had problems coming out of the gate. They led Rice by just four at halftime and trailed BYU by 10. But it’s been a point of emphasis in practice this week, so the Longhorns could strike first this weekend against UCLA.
Sameer:
Texas finishes strong though ... the Longhorns haven’t given up a fourth quarter point all season.
Austin:
Yes, they have a 21-0 advantage in the fourth quarter
Sameer:
But shifting to the most important news coming out of Mack Brown’s office ... the QBs.

Question From William:
What can we expect from David Ash vs. UCLA now that Case McCoy is the starter? Will he see more playing time?

Christian:
The coaches have said that the package for Ash has only five plays, but that’s sure to expand. Ash has done well when he’s seen the field and has earned the right to more playing time, especially with McCoy making his first start.
Austin:
David will see a good amount of time this week at the Rose Bowl. OC Bryan Harsin likes to use two QB’s, he did it very successfully at Boise State and will do as well this week. David Ash should be on the field for at least 10-15 plays, and that’s if Case is moving the ball.

Question From Berrington:
Do you think Gilbert will ever get his spot back? Or is this
change permanent?

Christian:
After the way McCoy and Gilbert played this past weekend, it’s suddenly McCoy’s job to lose. If he plays the way he played against BYU, McCoy will remain the starter and Gilbert will stay at third string.
Austin:
I think Gilbert will play QB at Texas again. When? I’m not sure. But if McCoy and Ash struggle, don’t be surprised if Gilbert is back in there.
Austin:
I see Gilbert playing on the road, not at home. You heard the boos last week. Why not build his confidence away from home?
Sameer:
From the sounds of it, the coaches do have a lot of confidence in their younger QBs though. Harsin really runs plays catered to their styles.
Christian:
Players on both offense and defense have mentioned how vocal McCoy was in the BYU game. Not only has McCoy played better than Gilbert thus far, but he has seemed to win the respect of the locker room. Not sure if Gilbert ever did that.

Question From Stephen Farnesworth:
So is it true that McCoy and Shipley are roommates?

Austin:
Yes, just like the older duo.
Christian:
Yes, McCoy did confirm after Saturday’s game that he and Shipley, like their older brothers, are roommates.
Austin:
Jaxon plays guitar, same as Jordan Shipley did. Jordan sang; now it’s Case doing the vocals.
Sameer:
A couple more QB questions coming in here ...

Question From Poopycat McGee:
If McCoy and Ash struggle, how do you think the fans will react to Gilbert? With all the clamor to get Gilbert out of the QB spot, do you think they’ll be willing to see him play, or will he be welcomed with a chorus of boos?

Austin:
He will be booed the moment he throws a pick. But if he moves the ball and limits the turnovers, he’s going to be cheered.
Christian:
When Gilbert didn’t complete passes, he was booed. When he threw interceptions, they could hear the boos all the way at Lake Travis. So, yes, the fans will not react kindly if he returns.
Christian:
The fans are so eager for change after a season like the one Texas had last year. When Case McCoy and Malcolm Brown just step on the field, the Longhorn faithful go nuts.
Sameer:
We shift now to a concern a fan has about the running game.

Question From William:
How do you think Malcolm Brown will do now that he’s the No. 1 running back?

Austin:
If you ask Mack Brown, he’ll say Brown is not the No. 1 running back. He’s listed as co-starter with Fozzy.
Christian:
Malcolm Brown has led Texas in carries both games but hasn’t seen much playing time in the early parts of games yet. Now that he’s the starter, the Longhorn offense will get a boost right away.
Austin:
But I think he will do well against UCLA this week. He’s a powerful runner with good vision. He’s averaging more than four yards per carry.

Question From Fazzad Wang:
Do you expect Fozzy to be relegated to a Wildcat/passing-game-only role? With Malcolm now listed as co-starter, the promise that Bergeron would get more carries at UCLA, and Cody Johnson, do you think there is any place for Fozzy to be getting carries?

Austin:
Fozzy will see more time in Wildcat than in running sets, yes. And Cody Johnson will be the goal lineback.
Christian:
Not at all. Malcolm Brown may eventually prove himself to be the team’s best running back, but he’s learned a lot from Fozzy over the offseason and in these first couple of games. Also, Whittaker’s a senior so he’ll always get a fair amount of carries, some in the Wildcat, some not in the Wildcat.
Austin:
Malcolm Brown will be the workhorse. Bergeron did not play last week, so his carries may be limited.
Sameer:
The people want to know about defense!

Question from William:
UCLA’s run game really hurt Texas last year. Will the Longhorns’ run defense step up this time around?

Austin:
To a certain extent. Remember, UCLA went for more than 250 yards last year. So Texas should improve from that mark. But I don’t see them completely shutting down the Bruins’ attack.
Christian:
Texas has a good one.
Christian:
It’s a run defense that won’t give up the 264 rushing yards it allowed to UCLA last year. Defensive coordinator has pounded the importance of stopping the run into his players’ heads, and they’ve bought in.

Question From Bane Baneson:
When they aren’t running, UCLA likes to complete short, quick passes. BYU QB Jake Heaps was able to complete many of his quick strikes during Saturday’s game, so how will the defense be ready for this quick attack?

Austin:
Texas will go with man coverage if the Bruins start throwing it short. Quandre Diggs and Adrian Phillips can stick to the UCLA receivers, and the outside linebackers are mobile enough to limit the slant.
Christian:
Despite being the defense’s youngest unit, the secondary may very well be the most impressive. Sophomore Carrington Byndom was Texas’ defensive MVP Week 1 while freshman Quandre Diggs and sophomore Adrian Phillips each had an interception Week 2. The Bruins will have their hands full when they put the ball in the air.
Sameer:
Minny has a question about Alex Okafor!

Question From Minny Jackson:
Help! I’ve been looking all over the place for Alex Okafor, and I can’t seem to find him. Do you guys know why he hasn’t been as productive as they said he would be?

Austin:
Want to find Alex? Just look for him stuck to a lineman. He’s not getting off blocks, period.
Sameer:
Slow. Slow. Slow [off the blocks].
Austin:
Okafor is not a beast, yet. Sometimes he does not finish plays, the coaches are on him to reach his potential. But he’s not there yet.
Christian:
Jeffcoat hasn’t been productive either. Jeffcoat and Okafor have combined for just nine tackles this year. Texas has gotten away with not getting much production from their defensive ends so far, but that’s going to have to change soon.

Comment From wow:
Alex Okafor is not slow guys; he’s been double-teamed. No way is he “slow.” Get out of here.

Austin:
He’s fast and quick. Just getting blocked.
Sameer:
He’s been getting double teamed, but a player of his potential can’t consistently get held up like that.
Sameer:
Speaking of [Ashton] Dorsey though ...
Christian:
If Okafor is getting double-teamed, that’s fine. Then Jeffcoat should be wreaking havoc in the opponent’s backfield. No team is going to line up with seven offensive linemen.

Question From Rusty Dickenson:
What impact will Dorsey starting have on the defense?

Christian:
Despite being suspended against Rice, Dorsey was good enough against BYU to earn defensive MVP honors when Texas faced BYU.
Austin:
Dorsey will have a big impact, he was the team’s defensive MVP in the BYU game. He will benefit from playing next to Kheeston Randall and should have some lanes to the QB. Dorsey is only going to get better, so he will help shore up the run D.
Sameer:
Our most famous fan has a question regarding ... the law?

Question From Lil Wayne:
I’d like to sue the Texas defensive backs for copyright infringement ... Quandre The Giant??? Seriously?

Christian:
Quandre plays a big game that’s [how] he has that nickname, sorry.
Quandre went up against a BYU receiver that had about six inches on him and picked it off. He’s earned the right to be called a “Giant.”
Sameer:
Let’s keep the talk about the DBs going ... IrateFan has something to say.

Questionfrom IrateFan:
I can’t get over how sloppy Blake Gideon has been recently. What gives?

Austin:
Not tackling. And the coaches admit it.
He got juked at least once against BYU. If he does not play better against UCLA, watch out.
Christian:
Missed a couple open-field tackles against BYU. As a safety, he’s the last line of defense and is supposed to be one of the team’s surest tacklers. Gideon needs to improve in that area.
Austin:
He may be thinking too much out there. Just needs to make plays.

Freshman receiver Jaxon Shipley runs after the catch in Saturday’s game against Rice. Shipley and 25 other members of the Texas freshman class saw playing time in the game, and many of them made a large impact, including running back Malcolm Brown who had 86 yards.

Photo Credit: Danielle Villasana | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns’ highly touted freshman class offered its first glimpse of things to come in the season opener, and for now, it looks like the program is in good hands.

Texas played 18 true freshmen and seven redshirt freshmen in Saturday’s win over Rice, the most of any team in the country.

It did not take long for them to make their presence felt.

Jaxon Shipley hauled in the year’s first TD pass, a 36-yard connection with redshirt freshman receiver and former high school quarterback John Harris, on a gadget in the third quarter. The receiver said his first score in a Texas uniform certainly didn’t go the way he envisioned it.

“I thought about if I were to score, what it would be on, but it was nothing like I expected,” Shipley said.

Jaxon, the younger brother of former Longhorn and current NFL wideout Jordan Shipley, finished the game with two catches for 54 yards and rushed for 25 yards on three carries. Shipley, the first freshman receiver in Texas history to catch a touchdown in the season opener, was named the game’s most valuable player on offense by the coaching staff.

Although his older brother watched closely from the sidelines, and a large contingent of family and friends traveled from Brownwood and Abilene to soak in his first game, Shipley said the butterflies left his stomach once the first whistle blew.

“I was more nervous when I woke up than I was before the game started,” Shipley said. “Once I got out on that field, it was just kind of natural for me. I felt like I was supposed to be there.”

Malcolm Brown, the Longhorns’ prized tailback who may have more hype surrounding him than Shipley, had to wait for his moment in the spotlight.

When he finally got his chance, though, Brown showed why he was the No. 2 running back prospect coming out of high school. He finished with a team-high 16 carries and powered his way for 86 yards, the fourth highest by a Texas freshman in a season opener.

He broke loose for a 20-yard gain and consistently moved the pile, displaying the powerful running style that had scouts drooling.

While Brown may emerge as the best runner in the Texas backfield this season, he was the fourth tailback to come into the game not seeing the field in the first half.

Fellow freshman Joe Bergeron entered the game before Brown and carried six times for 26 yards. Head coach Mack Brown pointed to the 10 days of practice Malcolm missed in the fall with an injured hamstring as the reason behind the wait.

“I knew I wasn’t just going to pop in there and be the starting guy right off the bat,” Malcolm Brown said. “You’ve got to gradually work your way up to that.”

Yes, it’s too for early for the coaching staff to name Brown the starter, considering senior tailback Fozzy Whittaker’s two-touchdown performance. Still, Whittaker said he was impressed by what he saw from the freshmen.

“They had to get those first game jitters out. For them to go out and perform the way they did was very encouraging,” Whittaker said. “Those young guys are going to have a big, significant role for us this year.”

Should Texas fans be cautious about the amount of hype and lofty expectations being heaped on these freshmen so early in the season?

“There is a little pressure, but the coaches talk to me sometimes and tell me not to worry about all that,” Brown said.

Get used to this bunch, they are likely to see the field more than any other freshman class in the Mack Brown-era.

Printed on Wednesday, September 7, 2011 as: Freshmen make huge impact on field for Horns.

Football Notebook

Senior running back Fozzy Whittaker found himself atop the depth chart Monday morning, but Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron expect to get plenty of carries this season, despite being true freshmen. Fortunately for Brown and Bergeron, Whittaker and senior fullback Cody Johnson worked with their younger counterparts to prepare them for the rigors of college football.

“The thing I like about them the most is that they’re ready and willing to learn,” Whittaker said. “Me and Cody have been serving as big brothers for them, showing them exactly what to look for on film and how the plays are supposed to be run.”

Will David Ash redshirt?
With Garrett Gilbert named the starting quarterback and sophomore Case McCoy listed as his backup, the status of David Ash’s and Connor Wood’s roles are uncertain. Rumors and reports that Wood will transfer have followed him all offseason. Meanwhile, the decision whether or not to redshirt David Ash hasn’t been made yet.

“You don’t want to do with David what you did with Case last year, where you play him a little, but don’t play him enough,” said head coach Mack Brown.

Brown also mentioned that he will discuss the possibility of redshirting Ash soon.

Jaxon Shipley cracks the starting lineup
Once again, Texas will have a receiver wearing a No. 8 jersey with “Shipley” on the back. Jaxon Shipley, Longhorns’ all-time receptions leader Jordan Shipley’s younger brother, is one of three starting receivers and will also handle punt return duties. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound wideout is the only true freshman who will start Saturday against Rice.

“He’s done everything right,” Brown said. “We may get turned in to the NCAA. He wears the same number. They’ll think Jordan’s back.”

Howell impresses peers, earns starting spot
The battle for the second starting defensive tackle spot was close, but it was won by sophomore Calvin Howell. Sophomores Ashton Dorsey and Chris Whaley, along with true freshman Desmond Jackson, should see playing time as well. But Howell did well enough this offseason to catch the attention of the defense’s most experienced members, including fellow starting defensive tackle, senior Kheeston Randall.

“Calvin has made great progression over his years here,” Randall said. “He’s a lot more focused and [defensive tackles] coach [Bo] Davis has helped him pay closer attention to detail. It’s the small things that get us in trouble in this game of football. He’s just been working hard this summer and I’m really proud of Calvin.”

Michael Huey (63) looks for a block in the national championship game. Huey is one of the strongest players on the team.

Photo Credit: Stephen Keller | Daily Texan Staff

Texas is already more than halfway through with its spring practices, which means the days of Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley are fading farther and farther away in the rearview mirror. It was no secret that Shipley was McCoy’s go-to receiver, but now the question is, who will be Garrett Gilbert’s?

“I’m not sure exactly,” wide receiver John Chiles said. “You’ll see James [Kirkendoll] make a play, then you’ll see Malcolm [Williams] make a play, and I’ll make a play. It’s sort of all over the place right now. He’s spreading the ball really well.”

While no one receiver has fully distinguished himself as Gilbert’s go-to man, those three veterans have begun to distance themselves from the rest of the pack.

“I think there’s some separation,” Chiles said. “Malcolm, James and myself. I think there’s separation, we’re definitely the starters. We’ve been working hard to push each other.”

Despite all three having seen game action and catching a combined nine touchdowns last year, they’re having to make the adjustment to catching balls from Gilbert instead of McCoy.

“I think he has a faster release a little bit,” Chiles said about Gilbert’s passes compared to McCoy’s. “It’s not exactly blazing fast, but it’s faster. It [arrives] a little bit quicker.”

Five-finger discount
Texas is stealing plays from everybody this off-season.

OK, so it’s not stealing if they give it to you, but still, the Horns are taking some pages, literally, from other teams’ playbooks. Earlier this offseason, Texas brought in some of the coaches from Boise State to help learn some new trick plays to keep defenses guessing and to keep things fun for the players.

Now the Horns have brought in someone new to help: Jim Caldwell, coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

Caldwell came in and introduced a stretch play to help with Texas’ new emphasis on the running game. The play can be used as either a run or a play-action pass, which fits perfectly in Texas’ new offensive strategy. The stretch, which is, in a way, replacing the zone-option, is nearly as versatile as Texas’ stable of running backs.

“In our system, they taught us all well how to run the play and what to look for to read the play, so we’re all capable of running that play,” running back Fozzy Whittaker said.

The players also get some extra benefit in the film room when studying the play beyond just learning how it works.

“We watch snaps on the Colts to see how they do it,” Whittaker said “It helps us realize the play a little bit better and helps us get a full understanding of how they do it in the League, which we’re all pursuing.”

Huey the hulk
Maybe they should start calling Michael Huey the “Hulk,” given that everyone seems to think he’s one of the strongest guys on the team with a nasty mean streak.

“I think Mikey Huey has been the nastiest out there,” Whittaker said. “I’ve seen him get in a couple of defensive tackles’ personal bubble.”

“I might have to say Michel Huey,” Kheeston Randall said when asked who the strongest guy on the team was. “I’d say [he benches] 500 [pounds].”
Randall’s max on bench is only 445 lbs.

Huey is not alone, though. The one area that was looking to be one of Texas’ weakest points is its strongest ­— at least in the weight room.

“They’re pretty strong,” Randall said of the offensive line. “I’d probably say they’re strongest overall.”

Despite having already made a smooth transition from right guard to left, Huey is going to need that strength to help him while he continues to adjust to the move.

“He’s fine,” said Kyle Hix, who also moved from the right side of the line to the left at tackle. “It takes a couple days to get used to it. Really, it’s not too big of a deal for him. He’s played both sides before.”