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The last time a Texas head coach brought in a class in his first full recruiting cycle at Texas, a majority of those who made it to campus played in their freshman year. That was the 2015 class with stars like Malik Jefferson, solid contributors like Patrick Vahe and P.J. Locke, and gems like Michael Dickson and Connor Williams. While several members of the 2018 class will be called upon to contribute early, members of the 2015 class are making sure the welcome they provide is warmer than the one they received.
The new redshirt rules passed by the NCAA could skew the numbers. The 2018 class could have a similar percentage play in their freshman season but still maintain their redshirt thanks to the rule allowing players to participate in up to four games and still hold on to four more years of eligibility. Several of the members of Texas’ 2018 class are either competing for or are in starting roles like Caden Sterns and Keaontay Ingram.
What the members of the 2018 class have that the 2015 class did not is a more welcoming locker room.
“It was a little different when we first got here,” senior Kris Boyd, a member of that 2015 class, said Thursday. “We’re guiding the young ones now. They have someone to look up to, motivate them, and show them the right way to do things. If they have questions, we’re there for them.”
A clip of Boyd talking about meeting with current Detroit Lion Quandre Diggs has circulated recently, showing the connection the two had while Boyd was on a visit to Texas.
But by the time Boyd enrolled, Diggs was earning paychecks to play football in the NFL. The welcome Diggs provided wasn’t something that resonated through the rest of the locker room.
“Not as much,” Boyd said in response to if he received as much help when he arrived as to what he’s providing now. “That’s the problem. It was here but not as much. Like I said, I had Duke Thomas and a few other guys that helped, but there were some areas where we could have had help. Now, we’re here and we can fix that with this class.”
Admittedly, Boyd is so focused on the opponent in front of him he sometimes doesn’t even know who the corner opposite him is. On the depth chart, it’s fellow senior and class member Davante Davis, but redshirt freshman Kobe Boyce and true freshman Anthony Cook are competing for the spot right behind the two upperclassmen.
Though Boyd might not have received the advice and guidance that could have helped him achieve more success in his first two years, he’s trying to make sure those who will follow him once he graduates are prepared and able to succeed early.
“Once you get on the field, keep doing what got you there so you don’t come off,” Boyd said. “Watching film, staying in your playbook, making sure you’re noticing what the guy in front of you is doing because he obviously knows what he’s doing to be in that position. I’m telling them if you’ve got questions or if you’re lost on anything, ask me and I’ll help you.”
That doesn’t only apply to the defensive back room, but also to another position Texas stockpiled in the 2018 class. The senior front line of Charles Omenihu, Chris Nelson, and Breckyn Hager are firmly entrenched in their starting roles, but six different freshmen who play on the line of scrimmage joined those three from the 2018 class.
Omenihu noted that two of those six players, Joseph Ossai and Moro Ojomo, are like “my little brothers that I never had.” He also noted their talent, saying Ojomo is “a lot more talented than I was as a freshman.”
Ossai, like Omenihu, will be asked to play as a boundary linebacker in his freshman season. Both Ossai and Ojomo have a great opportunity to see the field this year.
“I keep them on the straight and narrow as freshmen as guys I’ve taken under my wing to make sure they do what they need to do,” Omenihu said. “Those are the guys you’re seeing show up. I just want to make sure they make their family proud, and help the team win in any way that they can contribute this year.”
The best way to make sure the newest class is welcomed by the oldest class?
“Ask questions,” Boyd said. “No question is a dumb question.”