FRISCO — Every college coach in any sport, Texas head coach Tom Herman included, knows that recruiting is the lifeblood of the program. In order to recruit well, coaches need balance what players want to hear with the reality of where a player projects.
Early in his recruitment in a since-deleted tweet, Texas freshman D’Shawn Jamison stated he wanted to be used in college like former Michigan Wolverine and current Cleveland Brown Jabrill Peppers. In the early stages of his Texas career, Jamison might get that wish.
In the official 2018 media guide and on the roster on the official athletics website, the class of 2018 member from Houston Lamar is listed as a wide receiver, confirming Inside Texas’ previous reporting. His Twitter profile reads that he is both a wide receiver and a defensive back at Texas, a role similar to that of Peppers.
In his final two seasons in Ann Arbor, Peppers amassed 111 total tackles, 18.5 of them for loss, three sacks and an interception. In addition, he rushed for five touchdowns and averaged 13.1 yards per punt return and 26.8 yards per kick return.
Though Jamison might not work between the tackles, Herman assured him the opportunity to both try and score and prevent scoring.
“He’s going to play both this year,” Herman said Tuesday at Big 12 Media Days. “He’s been working at both throughout the offseason. He’s been doing drills with both the slot receivers and the DBs. We certainly plan to use him on offense, but I think it’s more of a stop-gap.”
Jamison’s high school highlights are full of kick and punt returns for touchdowns, so putting the ball in his hands makes sense. It also makes sense for the Longhorns, as there is a need at the slot receiver position following the departure of Reggie Hemphill-Mapps. Jamison will replace Hemphill-Mapps in the program twice, on the field and by switching from No. 5 to No. 17. Though junior Lil’Jordan Humphrey is set to have a big year, those behind him on the depth chart are unproven.
“We approached D’Shawn and said ‘hey, we’ve got a need for some dynamism at that slot receiver position, and you certainly have it. The DB room is pretty packed this year, not to say that you can’t crack into it, but we’d like for you to at least get some work at slot receiver and see how it goes,’” Herman said. “By all accounts, he’s having a pretty good offseason.”
Being able to bring this account to star prospects on the recruiting trail is a nice feather for Herman to have in his cap. Currently, two of Texas’ top 2019 targets, Bru McCoy of Mater Dei (Calif.) and Makiya Tongue of University Lab (La.), have aspirations of playing a different position than what the Longhorn coaches would prefer them to play.
According to Herman, he leaves that choice up to the players.
“You come into our program, and you can play whatever you want to play,” Herman said. “You look at the depth chart and say ‘I want to play this,’ and usually it always works itself out.”
Herman noted just because a player is in his preferred position does not mean he is guaranteed playing time. In his example, he said that a player who comes in as a linebacker but who his staff prefers at defensive end will get every opportunity to play linebacker.
“Usually by the second or third week, knock, knock, knock on coach’s door,” Herman said. “‘Hey coach, I’m the fourth string linebacker, I think I could be the second string defensive end. Do you think I could move to defensive end?’”
Those decisions normally work themselves out, but Herman knows it has to take place organically. As soon as it’s forced, it becomes an issue.
“It’s always the young man’s decision,” Herman said. “If it’s not, you’re not getting a full buy-in.”