Miles Onyegbule

Senior Myles Onyegbule recently made the switch from tight end to quarterback. Off the field though, Onyegbule was selected to join the Texas Cowboys. He, along with the rest of the all-male spirit organization, helps maintain and operate Smokey, the cannon fired at football games.

Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

While student-athletes’ schedules tend to leave little time for activities outside of balancing classes and their respective sports, a few athletes every year join campus spirit and service organizations with the intent of giving back to the community and broadening their own experiences.

Miles Onyegbule, who recently switched from tight end to quarterback, was selected to join Texas Cowboys, an all-male spirit and service organization, by fellow teammates who are already members of the organization. The group also maintains and operates Smokey, the cannon that gets fired off at Longhorn football games.

“It’s kind of a getaway from the limelight of football,” Onyegbule said. “You get to travel around the city and campus doing philanthropy and service events where the pressures are greatly minimized.”

Texas Cowboys is the University-recognized spirit organization

Onyegbule chose to accept his invitation to the Cowboys because he believes the positive impact the organization outweighs the negative connotation it often carries, describing the group members as self-motivated and well-respected.

“Usually, in the beginning, people just think of Cowboys as a party organization, where the [bar] tabs and social events are what we’re all about,” Onyegbule said. “But students quickly realize what we stand for, and that’s giving back in any way we can.”

Charlie Moore, a senior on the men’s swimming and diving team and a Cowboy, recently competed in his last swim meet at Texas as he heads into the fifth year of his degree as part of the McCombs Schools of Business’ MPA program. Moore is excited about the opportunity to mentor the younger members next year.

“I’m looking forward to spending more time talking to the [new members] about moving forward to continue to move our organization in the right direction,” Moore said. “To change that perception of who we are and what we do.”

Moore said he sees similarities in being a member in athletics and in service organizations.

“I think athletics is just as much about contribution to the University as it is [about] self achievement,” Moore said.

M.J. McFarland, a sophomore tight end from El Paso, is the only athlete who is a member of Texas Silver Spurs. McFarland said his experience thus far has been bittersweet, as being an athlete makes it difficult for him to be fully committed and attend all mandatory events, especially with football season approaching.

“Bitter because I couldn’t spend as much time with my fellow Spurs due to my athletic responsibilities,” McFarland said. “Yet sweet because, when I do spend time with them and hangout, it is always a good time.”

Silver Spurs is spirit organization responsible for handling all events involving Bevo, the school mascot.

McFarland said the best part of Spurs is being able to interact with people of all different backgrounds. He said stepping out of his comfort zone and joining as the only athlete has paid off.

“I get the best of both worlds,” McFarland said. “The athlete world and the fraternity world.”

Most of all, as an athlete member of Cowboys and Spurs, you are expected to represent your team by participating in volunteering and philanthropic service events on and off campus.

Sophomore wide receiver Darius White announced his decision to transfer Tuesday, becoming another in a long line of former Longhorns that have left the football program this year.

White was an all-state wideout at Dunbar High School in Fort Worth as he racked up over 3,000 yards receiving over his last three seasons. He scored twice in the 2010 Under Armour All-America Game and came in at No. 20 on the ESPNU 150 list.

The pair of touchdowns in that All-America Game, however, would top the lone score, a 31-yard touchdown catch from Case McCoy against Texas Tech, White had as a Longhorn. He had six catches for 71 yards in 20 games, none of which White started in. Meanwhile, true freshmen like Jaxon Shipley and Miles Onyegbule – prospects that were not nearly as highly-touted as White – each made at least one start this season.

“I sat down and talked to my mother and family and came to the conclusion that I really just need a fresh start,” White said.

White has not yet decided where he will transfer to, although multiple sources told the Daily Texan last week that Texas A&M could be his preferred destination. With freshman defensive tackle Taylor Bible reportedly leaving the Longhorns squad because of academic issues, White brings the total of Texas players to depart the program to 13.

“We never like to see anyone leave,” said head coach Mack Brown. “But at the same time we understand Darius’ desire for a fresh start. We appreciate everything Darius has contributed.”

Since the beginning of the year, a baker’s dozen of people have ended their Longhorns football career, either by transferring, by focusing on their studies, or by giving up football altogether. Linebacker Tariq Allen began the exodus in January when he announced his intentions to transfer. Since then, Texas has lost two quarterbacks (Connor Wood and Garrett Gilbert), a running back (Traylon Shead), and four defenders (Bible, Allen, linebacker Patrick Nkwopara, and safety Nolan Brewster).

The other six are all receivers. Greg Timmons decided to transfer in June, Marquise Goodwin left the program to pursue Olympic dreams before returning two months later, Brock Fitzhenry ended his football career in August, along with Malcolm Williams, while Chris elected to transfer last month.

Even without White, Texas’ receiving corps will not be short-handed. All three starting receivers – Jaxon Shipley, Mike Davis (who also scored in the 2010 Under Armour All-America contest), and Goodwin – return in 2012.Backups DeSean Hales, John Harris, and Onyegbule will also be back. With Austin High’s Cayleb Jones and Dallas Skyline’s Thomas Johnson, two of the top 35 rated prospects according to both Rivals.com and ESPN, committed to play for the Longhorns next fall, their receiving corps should be in good shape.

For the first time this year, there were not many changes made on the depth chart. Guess there’s not a whole lot to fix after a game like the one the Texas played against UCLA.

The Longhorns receiving corps took a hit with John Harris suffering a left foot injury that will keep him out of Saturday’s contest against Iowa State. Head coach Mack Brown said Monday that he would like four to six wide receivers to play this weekend but there are only three proven ones that are set to suit up — Jaxon Shipley, Mike Davis and Marquise Goodwin.

That means someone will have to step up and provide the Texas offense with a legitimate target in its passing game. Darius White, who takes Harris’ spot on the depth chart behind Goodwin, who won’t return kicks against Iowa State, could do that. White, a sophomore, was a very highly touted prospect coming out of high school two years ago and has only four career catches but will have a good opportunity to make plays this weekend.

“With John [Harris] out, we need those guys that are filling in to step up,” said co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin. “But more importantly we need the guys that have been playing to step up more. It’s not just about this next guy that comes in for John has to be Superman and go play lights-out. It’s about the other 10 guys that are playing.”

DeSean Hales, Bryant Jackson and Chris Jones are some other wideouts that could see the field with Harris out of the lineup. But Miles Onyegbule could take advantages of two positions that have taken a hit. With Garrett Gilbert out for the year, the Longhorns are left with two quarterbacks in Case McCoy and David Ash.

Junior quarterback John Paul Floyd is on the roster but not the depth chart while former high school quarterbacks like Onyegbule and freshman safety Mykkele Thompson are also being looked at. Onyegbule, who threw for over 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns as a high school senior, has taken reps in the “Wild” formation made popular by Fozzy Whittaker and Shipley. If he or Thompson, who ran for 40 touchdowns at San Antonio Stevens a year ago, took any snaps it would be in a limited package.

“John Paul Floyd has been around for a while, he knows the offense,” Brown said. “[Mykkele Thompson] and Miles [Onyegbule] have both played quarterback. So if Mykkele comes in and plays quarterback he would be a safety who would play quarterback 10 minutes a day. It would be an emergency backup situation with a package.”

Whoever lines up at quarterback will be grateful that they will have D.J. Grant to throw to. The junior tight end had three touchdown catches against UCLA — more than anyone had for Texas all last season. But for some reason it wasn’t enough to make Grant an outright starter. He and Blaine Irby are listed as co-starters at H-back.

“When you’ve got a tight end that can control the middle of the field, it helps you out,” Harsin said. “When you’ve got that threat down the middle, now you can’t just go outside and double the wide receivers and put a linebacker inside. You’ve got to keep another guy, a safety, aware of what’s going on down the middle, which helps you get one-on-one outside. It’s always good for us.”

Maybe if Grant has something like four touchdowns against Iowa State, he won’t have an “or” anywhere near his name. Maybe.

Printed on September 27, 2011 as: Horns thin at receiver, quarterback with Harris and Gilbert injured

Receiver Jaxon Shipley makes a run after catching a ball in practice. Shipley is one of the many first-years competing for a starting role.

Photo Credit: UT Athletics | Daily Texan Staff

It has been a while since McCoy and Shipley hooked up for a touchdown on the 40 Acres. But at last Friday’s scrimmage, it happened again.

Case McCoy, Colt’s younger brother, found Jaxon Shipley, Jordan’s younger brother, in the back of the end zone during the Longhorns’ second scrimmage of fall camp a week ago. McCoy is in the middle of Texas’ most high-profile position battle, which features two freshmen — Connor Wood and David Ash. Every team has their fair share of underclassmen but Texas has freshmen, including Shipley, competing for playing time at virtually every position.

“[Shipley]’s quick,” said sophomore defensive back Adrian Phillips. “When they have him in, he’s hard to guard. He gives us the snake eyes when he looks at you so you’ve got to make sure your technique is really good.”

Shipley is one of a few freshman receivers, along with Miles Onyegbule and John Harris who could play this season, with Shipley possibly snagging a starting spot. Whoever wins the quarterback job, however, could use a big target to throw at like Onyegbule, who is listed at 6-foot-4.

“Miles is a big receiver,” Phillips said. “He’s physical. He’s not afraid to block at all. When the ball touches his hands, most of the time it’s going
to stick.”

The ones who throw to receivers like Onyegbule and Shipley are the players everyone wants to know about. Garrett Gilbert is the incumbent and favorite to win the quarterback competition, but he’s got three guys breathing down his neck, including Wood, who’s been rumored to have plans to transfer, and Ash, who has impressed coaches this offseason.

Texas has two great freshmen running backs waiting for their shot. Malcolm Brown, the Big 12 preseason Newcomer of the Year and Rivals.com’s No. 1 running back coming out of high school last year, has generated tons of excitement. Joe Bergeron was not as highly touted as Brown but showed flashes of brilliance, including a 118-yard, two-touchdown performance in a USA vs. World game Feb. 2. He’s had a great offseason as well.

“[Brown and Bergeron] are more alike than they are different,” said Major Applewhite, co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach. “The pass protection is the stuff that gets them. But both of those guys have come in with a keen understanding of what they want to do in terms of studying. They’ve done well.”

Dominic Espinosa, a redshirt freshman from Cedar Park, is the one freshman on offense who’s sure to start. Senior David Snow, who started all 12 games at center in 2010, will move over to guard, where he played as a sophomore and in high school. Espinosa has a strong showing this offseason.

“He’s brought control and confidence,” said junior defensive end Alex Okafor. “He’s surprised everybody. When he got his chance, he just snagged his opportunity and took it.”

On defense, the Longhorns’ front seven won’t need much help from freshmen but defensive tackle Desmond Jackson should get a decent share of playing time. The secondary, on the other hand, is likely the team’s youngest unit, especially at cornerback. Texas’ top three defensive backs include two sophomores and a freshman, Quandre Diggs, another top performer this offseason.

“We call him Quandre the Giant,” said junior safety Kenny Vaccaro. “He is playing big for us. He is technically sound since his brother is Quentin Jammer.”

Youth and inexperience may not be ingredients found in a recipe that remedies 5-7 seasons. This many freshmen contributing would be concerning for most football teams but with the freshmen that Texas has — Shipley, Espinosa, Brown, Bergeron, Diggs — it should be exciting, not worrisome that these guys will see the field. 

Receiver Jaxon Shipley makes a run after catching a ball in practice. Shipley is one of the many first-years competing for a starting role.

Photo Credit: UT Athletics | Daily Texan Staff

It has been a while since McCoy and Shipley hooked up for a touchdown on the 40 Acres. But at last Friday’s scrimmage, it happened again.

Case McCoy, Colt’s younger brother, found Jaxon Shipley, Jordan’s younger brother, in the back of the end zone during the Longhorns’ second scrimmage of fall camp a week ago. McCoy is in the middle of Texas’ most high-profile position battle, which features two freshmen — Connor Wood and David Ash. Every team has their fair share of underclassmen but Texas has freshmen, including Shipley, competing for playing time at virtually every position.

“[Shipley]’s quick,” said sophomore defensive back Adrian Phillips. “When they have him in, he’s hard to guard. He gives us the snake eyes when he looks at you so you’ve got to make sure your technique is really good.”

Shipley is one of a few freshman receivers, along with Miles Onyegbule and John Harris who could play this season, with Shipley possibly snagging a starting spot. Whoever wins the quarterback job, however, could use a big target to throw at like Onyegbule, who is listed at 6-foot-4.

“Miles is a big receiver,” Phillips said. “He’s physical. He’s not afraid to block at all. When the ball touches his hands, most of the time it’s going
to stick.”

The ones who throw to receivers like Onyegbule and Shipley are the players everyone wants to know about. Garrett Gilbert is the incumbent and favorite to win the quarterback competition, but he’s got three guys breathing down his neck, including Wood, who’s been rumored to have plans to transfer, and Ash, who has impressed coaches this offseason.

Texas has two great freshmen running backs waiting for their shot. Malcolm Brown, the Big 12 preseason Newcomer of the Year and Rivals.com’s No. 1 running back coming out of high school last year, has generated tons of excitement. Joe Bergeron was not as highly touted as Brown but showed flashes of brilliance, including a 118-yard, two-touchdown performance in a USA vs. World game Feb. 2. He’s had a great offseason as well.

“[Brown and Bergeron] are more alike than they are different,” said Major Applewhite, co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach. “The pass protection is the stuff that gets them. But both of those guys have come in with a keen understanding of what they want to do in terms of studying. They’ve done well.”

Dominic Espinosa, a redshirt freshman from Cedar Park, is the one freshman on offense who’s sure to start. Senior David Snow, who started all 12 games at center in 2010, will move over to guard, where he played as a sophomore and in high school. Espinosa has a strong showing this offseason.

“He’s brought control and confidence,” said junior defensive end Alex Okafor. “He’s surprised everybody. When he got his chance, he just snagged his opportunity and took it.”

On defense, the Longhorns’ front seven won’t need much help from freshmen but defensive tackle Desmond Jackson should get a decent share of playing time. The secondary, on the other hand, is likely the team’s youngest unit, especially at cornerback. Texas’ top three defensive backs include two sophomores and a freshman, Quandre Diggs, another top performer this offseason.

“We call him Quandre the Giant,” said junior safety Kenny Vaccaro. “He is playing big for us. He is technically sound since his brother is Quentin Jammer.”

Youth and inexperience may not be ingredients found in a recipe that remedies 5-7 seasons. This many freshmen contributing would be concerning for most football teams but with the freshmen that Texas has — Shipley, Espinosa, Brown, Bergeron, Diggs — it should be exciting, not worrisome that these guys will see the field.