Kennedy Estelle

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

Senior offensive lineman Desmond Harrison and junior offensive lineman Kennedy Estelle have been suspended for this Saturday’s game against BYU.

Multiple reports first said both starters had been dismissed by head coach Charlie Strong on Wednesday evening; however, Texas announced later that night they were just suspended for this weekend’s contest. 

With the loss of senior center Dominic Espinosa — who started all 40 career games — to injury, Estelle was Texas’ most experienced offensive lineman with nine starts. Harrison had been suspended for the game against North Texas, but, on Monday, Strong announced he was eligible to play this Saturday against BYU.

Texas’ most experienced offensive linemen are now junior guard Sedrick Flowers and sophomore tackle Kent Perkins, who have both started just two games.  

The Longhorns are now down to 14 active offensive linemen on the roster for this Saturday, including three walk-ons and three true freshmen, making Flowers the only letter winner left on the offensive line.  

With sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes set to make his first career start against BYU this weekend, the timing of Texas’ suspensions could cause trouble for the Longhorns.

Since Strong took over last January, he has changed the culture of the program, dismissing a total of seven players from the team. In March, the Longhorns dismissed senior fullback Chet Moss and senior safety Leroy Scott because of a violation of team rules. 

Things were fairly quiet for the program until July when the Longhorns dismissed five more players. Freshman defensive back Chevoski Collins, sophomore running back Jalen Overstreet and senior running back Joe Bergeron were all dismissed for violation of team rules.

Junior running back/wide receiver Daje Johnson and safety Josh Turner are also still suspended for Saturday’s game.

After last week’s purge, where six players were dismissed from the team, multiple sources are reporting that three more players are facing suspension.

According to Horns Digest, senior offensive tackle Desmond Harrison, junior wide receiver Daje Johnson and junior offensive tackle Kennedy Estelle have been found in violation of team rules and maybe suspended from the team.

Johnson, a Pflugerville native, has been in and out of trouble throughout his time at the University. Despite trouble off the field, he has seen success on the field. Johnson has scored four touchdown on 808 total yards from scrimmage throughout his career at Texas.

Estelle and Harrison were both expected to start this season.

If these players are suspended, it would make nine players who have been disciplined by headcoach Charlie Strong over the past week.

The Longhorns offensive line suffered two considerable blows last Saturday when senior right guard Mason Walters and junior right tackle Josh Cochran left the game against Ole Miss in the first half after sustaining injuries.

Walters (knee) and Cochran (shoulder) each entered the week listed as questionable for Saturday’s Big 12 opener against Kansas State. While the Texas coaches remain hopeful that both veteran linemen can suit up against the Wildcats, they realize that neither should be expected to play the entire game.

Sophomores Sedrick Flowers and Kennedy Estelle filled in admirably against Ole Miss after Walters and Cochran went down, and they both figure to be a major part of the game plan again this week. Co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite said that while both Flowers and Estelle have room to improve, he expects each to step up again this week when needed.

“We’ll need both of those guys to step up and play well for us Saturday night against a good defensive front,” Applewhite said. “They did some good things. Obviously there’s going to be some plays you want back in the game, but overall I thought Kennedy and Sedrick did some really good things when they’re in there.”

Head coach Mack Brown listed Estelle as the starter at right tackle on the depth chart on Monday, while Flowers remained behind Walters at right guard. That said, both should receive considerable playing time this week, and senior left guard Trey Hopkins is excited to see what the sophomores can do.

 “We’re upset whenever one of our starters goes down but I’m excited for guys like that to get an opportunity to play,” Hopkins said. “I think they both stepped up pretty good. They’re both young and haven’t played that much in game situations, especially Kennedy. I think he’s really working hard this week in practice to really pinpoint what he needs to get
better with.”

With the offensive line potentially losing the experience of Walters and Cochran this week, sophomore running back Johnathan Gray believes it is up to the Longhorns’ veteran starters to limit mistakes on the field and help ease Flowers and Estelle into the lineup.

“With those guys down, we have to do a better job of being more focused and have less mental errors when they get hurt and new guys come in,” Gray said. “We definitely have to get the job done and can’t lose a step.”

Regardless, Hopkins remains optimistic that Walters and Cochran will line up to his right on Saturday, and he believes they are doing everything in their power to play against
Kansas State.

“I’m very confident that they’re going to do whatever they need to do to get back on the field,” Hopkins said. “I know they’re very dedicated to doing whatever they need to. They both love playing this game they wish they were in the game with us last week. I know they’re going to fight as hard as they can and do whatever’s in their will to get back out there.”

If they remain inactive, though, the Longhorns believe both Flowers and Estelle are highly capable of filling the void, and they do not expect the offensive line to miss a beat. 

Football Recruits

National Signing day came and went, and the Texas Longhorns loaded up.

For a team on the rise like the Longhorns, new talent can be the difference between a .500 year, and a Big 12 championship year. With that said, here are some of the 2012 recruits that should make the transition from rebuilding stage to contender a little easier:

Johnathan Gray

One of the most productive running backs to ever play high school football, Gray possesses a natural ability that not most of the recruits in his class cannot match. Gray boasts a sturdy and compact body built low to the ground that allows him to act as a power back in any hole that opens up. He possesses great top end speed, running a 4.53 40-yard dash, which made him a touchdown machine in high school. He has great vision and sees holes well which should make him an impact back for the longhorns very early. Gray is ranked as the No.2 recruit by ESPN, and should see immediate playing time when he arrives in Austin next season.

Malcom Brown

Not to be confused with the longhorns returning running back, Malcom Brown is the No.2 ranked defensive tackle in the class of 2012. Brown isn’t a huge player (in size) at the tackle position, but his ability to get low and under offensive lineup should help him adjust at the next level. He shows solid penetrating ability and a very above average ability to rush against the run. If Brown adds some size to his firm and tall frame, he will see a ton of playing time for the longhorns. His strength and penetration skills should allow him to get solid playing time early on for the longhorns.

Kennedy Estelle

A player with superior size and athleticism, Estelle is an offensive tackle that I think will translate well at the college level. At 6’7 and310 pounds, Estelle could add a little bulk to his frame, but he possess strength and size that works to his advantage against smaller defenders. He is a very physical and tough tackle that could see immediate playing time on an offensive line that could use some help with their run blocking. Although Estelle must polish his blocking ability, he possesses the ability and size to help keep the quarterbacks safe, and give them time to improve and make better decisions in the pocket.

Conner Brewer

Brewer is ranked as the No.7 QB in the 2012 class and has the tools to possibly be the offensive general that the Longhorns desperately need. He has a frame that can add bulk and be prototypical for an elite quarterback. Brewer’s polished ability in the pocket seems a bit better than any quarterback that the longhorns currently have on their roster. He throws the ball very accurately and has the speed to create a play and keep a play alive when pressure gets to the pocket. If Brewer proves that he can make good decisions in the pocket, look for him to be an immediate starter for a team with average quarterback play at best.

Peter Jinkens

Peter Jinkens is a tough outside linebacker who runs very well sideline to sideline in pursuit of the ball. He is very fast for a linebacker, and has the athleticism to make him a defender with huge upside. He is a very long 6’1, and uses this size to square up defenders and make solid tackles. Jinkens saw some time at running back in high school as well, but will likely be a fearsome linebacker at the college level. If more size is added to his frame, Jinkens could be a Patrick Willis type player on the Texas defense.

Torshiro Davis

The Longhorns pulled off a huge signing day snag by stealing Davis from his longstanding verbal commitment to LSU. Davis is a defensive end/outside linebacker type whose game is built on speed. At 6’3, 220 pounds Davis needs to pack on to his lean frame at the next level, but his 4.56 40-yard dash speed makes him an above average pass rusher. He has a knack for getting into the backfield, and can chase down many backs from behind. Don’t expect Davis to get a lot of playing time early on as the Longhorns have a nice set of linebackers, but definitely expect him to be a disruptive force whenever he comes into his own as a college defender.