AUSTIN (KXAN) — As Texas students set off for spring break last week, Texas football head coach Steve Sarkisian made sure to warn his players to be responsible during their week off.
And as they returned for the first spring practice after the break on Tuesday, Sarkisian was proud to report that there had been no incidents during his players’ time away.
“It went well. Proud of our guys,” Sarkisian said. “They’re in college. They need to be able to enjoy their spring break. Being a Division I football player at The University of Texas, we ask a lot of them. And so when they have opportunities to enjoy being in college, I welcome it.”
But that wasn’t the only good news for Sarkisian and the coaching staff. Redshirt freshman quarterback Maalik Murphy and senior wide receiver Isaiah Neyor also registered their first full practices as they continue to recover from their respective injuries.
Murphy was a four-star commit out of California but has battled injuries throughout his time at Texas.
He struggled with an ankle injury last spring and has been dealing with another lower-body injury this spring. Sarkisian said the Longhorns had been playing it safe with Murphy but liked what they saw out of the quarterback on Tuesday.
“It was great to have Maalik back out there,” Sarkisian said. “We were probably a little bit conservative with him that first week, thinking, ‘OK, if we back off of him that first week of spring ball and give him spring break, then he can get back the second week of spring ball.’ So, that was positive to have him back out there.”
Murphy has yet to see the field for Texas in game action but is poised to battle with Quinn Ewers and Arch Manning for the starting quarterback position this fall.
It’s a battle that Sarkisian believes will help the Longhorns as a whole.
“Open competition is really healthy for everyone,” Sarkisian said. “Everybody’s play should step up. We’ve got a long way ’till we play in September. Can Maalik push Quinn? Of course, he can. Quinn’s job is to keep raising his level of play so he can’t catch him.”
Meanwhile, Neyor, a transfer out of Wyoming, gave Texas fans a taste of what he could do last spring when he caught a 62-yard touchdown pass from Ewers in the Orange-White Spring Game.
Unfortunately, Neyor suffered a torn ACL in an August scrimmage, ruling him out for the season.
Neyor showcased his potential with 44 catches for 878 yards in his final season at Wyoming back in 2021, and Sarkisian was pleased with what he saw out of the receiver on Tuesday.
“He looked as good as he’s looked,” Sarkisian said. “His rehab has gone really well for him, not only physically but mentally. I think he’s dialed into it, and I think gradually working him back in at the rate that we’re going is a good sign for where we need to be come the fall.”
The return of Neyor will add to a loaded Longhorns receiving room that includes Jordan Whittington, Xavier Worthy, Georgia transfer Adonai Mitchell, and talented freshmen Johntay Cook and DeAndre Moore Jr.
With so much pass-catching talent, Sarkisian said one of his goals for the Longhorns this season is to improve their passing attack.
Fans will get their first opportunity to see that passing game in action on April 15 when the Longhorns host their annual Orange-White Spring Game. Until then, Texas will continue its spring practices looking to build off of its 8-5 season a year ago.