April 2, 2006

Fresh faces emerge in spring game

With the eyes of Texas scrutinizing the two young men that are competing for the quarterback position, several new faces jumped into focus during the Longhorns' annual Spring Game on Saturday night at DKR Memorial Stadium. Flashing sure catches, great quickness, some hard hitting and a nose for the football, a select group of the younger players on the Texas roster is elbowing its way to the front of the pecking order at its respective positions. Under the biggest spotlight they will have before August, these five future stars made their statement for playing time on the defending national champion's two-deep roster:


OFFENSE


With known quantities like Jamaal Charles at tailback and four of five members of the offensive line returning, there hasn't been much discussion of any new toys for offensive coordinator Greg Davis to tinker with in 2006. Two players on Saturday evening changed that tune in a hurry, giving hope that Davis will have an even bigger stockpile of ammunition and also that a pair of young quarterbacks are going to have a couple of sure-handed and steady targets to help them through the maturation process.


Jermichael Finley - A redshirt freshman out of Diboll, TX, Finley led all players with 73 yards receiving on four catches. The young tight end made several nice catches in traffic and hauled in a 31-yard touchdown pass from Jevan Snead.


Jordan Shipley - After being hampered by injury the past two seasons, Shipley showed the burnt orange faithful a quick glimpse of what they had been missing the past two years with three catches for 32 yards. Two of the catches were good for first down conversions including a great grab on fourth down with three yards to gain that quarterback Jevan Snead delivered a bit high and out in front of Shipley.


DEFENSE


After annual recruiting hauls of elite defensive talent and with seven returning players on the defending national champion defensive unit, fans might think that there is not much room for new players to emerge on that side of the ball. Saturday night's Spring Game proved them wrong as several players, some expected and some not, garnered attention for making stops against their teammates. Standouts like Michael Griffin, Tim Crowder, Aaron Ross and Frank Okam will return in the Fall to help defend Texas' national championship, and a select group of younger players made a bid on Saturday night to join their ranks.


Ryan Palmer - With a couple of holes to fill in the defensive secondary, players like Palmer had a great opportunity this Spring to gain valuable repetitions and make their case to move up the depth chart towards playing time this Fall. The junior from Arlington, TX (Bowie) made the game's first interception, defended another pass and collected two tackles.


Roddrick Muckelroy - Fans have been hearing good things about redshirt freshman Roddrick Muckelroy for the past year including praise for his knack for being around the football and his propensity to deliver big blows when he gets to the ball-carrier. The former Hallsville, Texas star delivered on Saturday night with a team-best seven tackles including one tackle for a loss.


Christopher Brown - Brown needed to contribute this Spring at his defensive end spot to establish his skills before highly-touted prospects such as Eddie Jones, Lamarr Houston and Brian Ellis arrive on the forty acres this Fall. On Saturday night, Brown flashed great speed off his spot on the end in making three tackles including one for a loss.

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