The Texas Longhorns’ Defensive Tackles Are Young But Impressive
Austin American Statesman
Longhorn guard Trey Hopkins detects some similarities between two young defensive tackles he faces during practice. Desmond Jackson played last year as a first-year freshman, and now Malcom Brown is almost sure to join the rotation in his initial season with the team.
Linemen often take a redshirt season their first year on campus while angling to gain strength and develop the fine-tuned motor required for playing against experienced offensive linemen.
But Hopkins, a junior, said Jackson and Brown arrived already assembled.
“They both came in a lot stronger than most freshmen come in,” Hopkins said. “Desmond was already physical, ready for this level. Malcom is the same way.”
Hopkins also had kind words for Brandon Moore, a junior defensive tackle who transferred from East Mississippi Community College.
“Moore is a huge load, very strong, very capable of taking on double teams,” Hopkins said.
All three tackles are listed at more than 300 pounds, Moore the heaviest at 320.
Coach Mack Brown likes what he sees at defensive tackle and end. Brown said the Longhorns need to identify backups everywhere on defense except the line.
Thomas earns praise
Count safety Adrian Phillips among one of the biggest fans of cornerback Duke Thomas, the freshman from Copperas Cove who enrolled in January and got experience in spring practice.
“He’s really quick,” Phillips said. “It might not look like he has a lot of size on him, but he packs the punch. And that’s a promise. He gets after the ball really well. His cover skills are really nice.”
Mack Brown also singled out Thomas for his play in Monday’s scrimmage and said the extra work helped Thomas get past some of his anxiety.
The 5-foot-11-inch, 175-pound Thomas, a member of the Austin American-Statesman’s Fab 55 list of the state’s top prospects, was a three-year starter in high school. In his final two high school seasons, he ran for 2,520 yards and also threw for 1,700.
Senior Luke Poehlmann isn’t one of Texas’ five starting offensive linemen, but Mack Brown said the staff considers him the sixth starter and one who’s clearly in the mix for a lot of playing time.
“We thought he was about to be really good when he hurt his knee against Baylor two years ago,” Brown said. “He’s playing really hard, and he’s playing with confidence. He’s smart, and he can play either guard or tackle, so he gives us immediate depth.”