Leroy Scott

Third-year reserves Chet Moss and Leroy Scott were dismissed from the football program for violating team rules, head coach Charlie Strong said on Sunday.

Moss was rated the 16th-best inside linebacker recruit by ESPN in 2011. He appeared in four games on defense and special teams his freshman season before moving to fullback prior in 2012. Starting once at fullback against Oklahoma State in 2012, Moss played in 23 consecutive games in 2012 and 2013 before missing the final three games on suspension.  

Scott ranked in ESPN’s top 150 and was the sixth-highest rated corner of his 2011 class. He played in 38 games over his three-year career and was named the team’s co-special teams player of the year for 2013 season. Scott was expected to compete for significant reps this fall but will now have to look to play elsewhere.

By its standard, Texas’ secondary struggled mightily last year. Longhorns defensive backs occasionally looked like they had cement in their cleats trying to make tackles. Texas, accustomed to fielding some of the nation’s best secondaries since Duane Akina arrived 12 years ago, posted mediocre numbers. 

Enter Duke Thomas. 

The sophomore from Copperas Cove will make his first career start this weekend against New Mexico State, edging out older players like juniors Sheroid Evans and Leroy Scott. And he’ll provide the spark that keeps the Longhorns from having another second-rate secondary.

He’s been getting glowing reviews from his teammates and coaches ever since he enrolled early last spring. Thomas was even once considered an option at wide receiver, playing both ways in this year’s spring game. For now, he’ll work on shutting down opposing wideouts.

“He’s a hard worker,” senior safety Adrian Phillips said. “If you’re a hard worker and you understand the game, you have a chance to play here. He tries to do everything right and that’s what you want from a young corner. He wants to come in and make a big impact.”

Normally, the Longhorns depth chart features four starters in the secondary – two cornerbacks and two safeties. But Texas made room for Thomas, moving two-year starter Quandre Diggs from cornerback to nickel. 

This gives the Longhorns the flexibility to move Diggs around and match up better against prolific passing attacks. And it also gives them the chance to put their best young defensive back on the field early and often.

“He’s a guy I always thought would be a great player for us,” Diggs said of Thomas. “I love having Duke on the field just because of the fact that I know he’s going to know exactly what to do. He’s going to come with 110 percent on each and every play.”

After showing promise in 2011, the Texas secondary took major steps backward in 2012. Opposing quarterbacks averaged 7.9 yards per attempt (No. 99 in the FBS), posted a collective 131.7 QB rating (No. 64) and completed nearly 60 percent of their passes.

The talent has always been there. Diggs and Carrington Byndom have been mainstays in the Longhorns secondary for the past two years, with Phillips emerging as a bona fide starter last season. Seven Longhorns defensive backs, including Thomas, made the Rivals250 cut coming out of high school. 

He’s done everything right since the moment he stepped on campus. He hasn’t gotten in trouble with the law, hasn’t complained about being moved around or even suffered an injury.

He’s made the most of every opportunity presented to him, playing in every game last year and making 12 tackles, eight of them on special teams, the second-most on the team. Thomas made three catches for 27 yards in this year’s spring game when his coaches wanted to see what the high school quarterback could do at wide receiver.

Less talented secondaries outperformed Texas’ secondary last season. Guys like Byndom, Diggs and Phillips have heard the criticism all offseason long. They’re ready to prove they can silence those critics. 

And Thomas is ready to prove he belongs.

By its standard, Texas’ secondary struggled mightily last year. Longhorns defensive backs occasionally looked like they had cement in their cleats trying to make tackles. Texas, accustomed to fielding some of the nation’s best secondaries since Duane Akina arrived 12 years ago, posted mediocre numbers. 

Enter Duke Thomas. 

The sophomore from Copperas Cove will make his first career start this weekend against New Mexico State, edging out older players like juniors Sheroid Evans and Leroy Scott. And he’ll provide the spark that keeps the Longhorns from having another second-rate secondary.

He’s been getting glowing reviews from his teammates and coaches ever since he enrolled early last spring. Thomas was even once considered an option at wide receiver, playing both ways in this year’s spring game. For now, he’ll work on shutting down opposing wideouts.

“He’s a hard worker,” senior safety Adrian Phillips said. “If you’re a hard worker and you understand the game, you have a chance to play here. He tries to do everything right and that’s what you want from a young corner. He wants to come in and make a big impact.”

Normally, the Longhorns depth chart features four starters in the secondary – two cornerbacks and two safeties. But Texas made room for Thomas, moving two-year starter Quandre Diggs from cornerback to nickel. 

This gives the Longhorns the flexibility to move Diggs around and match up better against prolific passing attacks. And it also gives them the chance to put their best young defensive back on the field early and often.

“He’s a guy I always thought would be a great player for us,” Diggs said of Thomas. “I love having Duke on the field just because of the fact that I know he’s going to know exactly what to do. He’s going to come with 110 percent on each and every play.”

After showing promise in 2011, the Texas secondary took major steps backward in 2012. Opposing quarterbacks averaged 7.9 yards per attempt (No. 99 in the FBS), posted a collective 131.7 QB rating (No. 64) and completed nearly 60 percent of their passes.

The talent has always been there. Diggs and Carrington Byndom have been mainstays in the Longhorns secondary for the past two years, with Phillips emerging as a bona fide starter last season. Seven Longhorns defensive backs, including Thomas, made the Rivals250 cut coming out of high school. 

He’s done everything right since the moment he stepped on campus. He hasn’t gotten in trouble with the law, hasn’t complained about being moved around or even suffered an injury.

He’s made the most of every opportunity presented to him, playing in every game last year and making 12 tackles, eight of them on special teams, the second-most on the team. Thomas made three catches for 27 yards in this year’s spring game when his coaches wanted to see what the high school quarterback could do at wide receiver.

Less talented secondaries outperformed Texas’ secondary last season. Guys like Byndom, Diggs and Phillips have heard the criticism all offseason long. They’re ready to prove they can silence those critics. 

And Thomas is ready to prove he belongs.

Oklahoma State
For the first time in school history, the Cowboys are 10-0. With their 66-6 win over Texas Tech last week, the Cowboys also extended their road winning streak to 11 games, the second-longest streak of its kind in the nation. Wide receiver Josh Cooper came back from a hamstring injury that forced him to miss two games and made six catches for 106 yards against the Red Raiders. Safety Deion Imade (knee) and Michael Harrison (ankle) both missed the Texas Tech game because of injury.

Texas A&M
With last week’s 53-50 loss to Kansas State, fourth-year coach Mike Sherman moves to 24-24 during his time with the Aggies. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill played last week despite suffering knee and ankle sprains against the Wildcats. Cornerback Coryell Judies sat out yet again while he heals from a lingering hamstring injury. Safety Steven Campbell and wide receiver Kendric McNeal did not make the trip to Manhattan, Kan., last week because of foot injuries.

Texas Tech
The Red Raiders succumbed to Oklahoma State last week for their third-straight double-digit conference loss. For the first time since 1990, the Red Raiders have lost four home games. Sophomore wide receiver Aaron Fisher sustained a season-ending knee injury against the Cowboys. Tight end Adam James (ribs) and defensive tackle Donald Langley (ankle) both left last week’s game with injuries.

Kansas
Coach Turner Gill fell to 1-14 in conference games in two years with the Jayhawks after losing to Baylor 31-30 last week. True freshman Darrian Miller rushed 24 times for 147 yards in defeat last week. It was the highest-total yardage by a Kansas freshman since 1993. Running back Brandon Bourbon is done for the year after injuring his leg Nov. 5 at Iowa State. The Jayhawks remain 120th in the nation in terms of points allowed (44 points per game).

Texas
The Longhorns were held without a touchdown for the first time since 2004, a 12-0 loss to Oklahoma. Texas has not allowed an opening possession touchdown to any of its opponents this year, giving up three field goals and four punts while forcing two turnovers. Defensive back Leroy Scott became the second true freshman to block a punt this year last week against the Tigers. Linebacker Keenad Robinson injured his thumb in the second quarter of last week’s game and did not return. Wide receiver Jaxon Shipley missed his second game in a row because of a knee injury. Offensive lineman Sedrick Flowers did not make the trip to Missouri because of a shoulder injury.

Iowa State
Freshman Jared Barnett became the first Cyclone quarterback since Brett Myer in 2004 to rush for more than 100 yards when he ran for 125 yards against Kansas two weeks ago. Wide receiver Darius Reynolds did not play against the Jayhawks for failing to live up to team standards. He will return to the starting lineup against Oklahoma State this week. Offensive lineman Ethan Tuftee will undergo minor knee surgery this week and could return in time for the game this Saturday. Safety Jacques Washington sat out for the majority of the Kansas game with an abdominal strain. No word on whether he will return this week.

Baylor
The Bears are bowl eligible for the second consecutive season, the first time since 1991-92 that this has happened. Baylor’s 13 wins in the past two years are the most over a two-year span since 1993-94 when it won 14 games. The 21-point deficit that the Bears erased in the fourth quarter last week against Kansas was the largest fourth-quarter comeback in school history. It was also the first overtime game for the Bears since 2006, when they defeated Colorado 34-31 in triple-overtime.

Kansas State
With five rushing touchdowns last week quarterback Collin Klein now has 24 total rushing touchdowns. He broke a school record set by Mack Herron in 1969 when Herron rushed for 20 touchdowns. Klein has scored two or more rushing touchdowns in seven games this season. Wide receiver Tyler Lockett has been lost for the season after lacerating a kidney Nov. 5 against Oklahoma. Safety Tysyn Hartman missed the majority of the second half last week against the Aggies with an undisclosed injury.

Missouri
The Tigers were able to defeat Texas for the first time since 1997 with their 17-5 victory last week. The Longhorns were the second ranked team to fall to the Tigers, the last time that occurred was in 2007, when the tigers defeated three ranked teams. Running back Henry Josey tore his left ACL, MCL and patellar tendon last week and is done for the year. The Tigers will try to win back-to-back games for the first time this year when they face Texas Tech this week.

Oklahoma
The Sooners will look to pick up their 15th recruit of the 2012 class once tight end Terrell Mitchell (Fort Scott, Kan.) is medically cleared to play. Mitchell missed his senior season of high school football after tearing his ACL in the spring. Linebacker Tony Jefferson should return to the starting lineup this week after missing time because of a knee injury.