Longhorns open training camp with high expectations

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Longhorns held their first practice of training camp Friday morning at the Wright Whitaker Sports Complex, or the intramural fields.

Expectations are as high for Texas as they’ve been in nearly a decade, as shown by their No. 10 ranking in the Coaches’ Poll that came out Thursday.

With one practice and one Tom Herman press conference in the books, here are a few key takeaways from the start of camp.

  • Sam Ehlinger is firmly entrenched as the starting quarterback, but he has plenty of talent surrounding him.
    • Keaontay Ingram is the starter at running back, but true freshman Jordan Whittington has already earned the number two spot after enrolling in January and taking part in spring practices.
    • “It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in my 20-something years coaching is how a guy that’s never played a position before in his life took to it that naturally,” Herman said. “He’s our second-team tailback right now and we’re expecting some big contributions from him.”
    • At the receiver position, Collin Johnson is the clear cut leader of the position group, returning for his senior season after testing the NFL Draft waters in the offseason. He’s joined by speedy receiver Devin Duvernay, big man Brennan Eagles and newcomer Jake Smith, the Gatorade  National Player of the Year in Arizona for football.
    • “First impressions are he keeps his mouth shut, he works his tail off and he’s really athletic, really fast,” Herman said.
  • Herman was as optimistic about the start of practice as he’s been since he got to Texas.
    • Everything from the “buy-in” of the team, effort on the practice field and how the veterans are policing the team now.
    • “The majority of the team is [bought in] and they understand our expectations. This group is a joy to coach right now”
    • After taking over a team that admitted it was pushing back against Herman after Charlie Strong’s firing, it appears all dissent is gone. A 10-win seasons and Sugar Bowl win last year certainly helped expedite that process.
  • The start of training camp is about as mundane as you think it would be.
    • With a long three weeks of camp before the first week of practice of the actual season, it’s important to look at camp as marathon, not a sprint. NCAA rules mandate the first two practices have to be in helmets and shorts. The next two practices they can add shoulder pads before they can go full pads and full contact starting with the fifth practice. With all of that being said, Herman’s only looking for one thing during this first week.
    • “Effort,” Herman said. “It is really important. You get a lot of work, especially in the throw game and timing and all that. You get, obviously, two days worth of installation work in, but really, at the end of the day, the first two practices are about understanding the intensity, the urgency and kind of the procedure of how we practice.”
    • NCAA rules also mandate a day off each week during camp, so for the first few weeks Herman’s plan for camp is to go four straight days, a day off before the first day of full pads, which will be the start of six straight days of practice before the next off day.

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