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Texas’ offseason following the 2019 campaign included sweeping changes to the coaching staff, but Longhorns head coach Tom Herman announced several alterations in roles for his players who are just over a month away from spring practices.
The two most noteworthy moves were junior DeMarvion Overshown’s shift from safety to will linebacker in new defensive coordinator Chris Ash’s defense, and redshirt freshman Jordan Whittington’s change from running back to wide receiver in new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich’s offense.
Herman also said junior Anthony Cook will practice at nickel during spring practices, and junior Josh Thompson will “start off playing corner this spring.”
Junior Joseph Ossai and sophomore Byron Vaughns are returning to assignments more tailored for their skillset, Herman announced. Both will play “Jack” for Ash. Herman described the position as a “hybrid, rush the passer, drop every now and again guy.”
Ossai, who spent a significant portion of 2019 playing in an off-the-ball linebacker role, moves into the defensive ends room. His move leaves Texas searching for solutions at LB, necessitating Overshown’s switch from a stocked position to one with quality depth problems.
Overshown, a top 150 recruit on all the major services and a five-star prospect in 247Sports’ rankings, sustained several injuries playing safety during the previous two seasons. As is common with these types of moves, both necessity and the player’s drive to secure playing time instigated the switch.
Texas lists Overshown at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds. Even playing in the spread-focused Big 12, that’s somewhat light for a linebacker. To compare, Ossai checks in at 245, junior Juwan Mitchell at 240, and graduating senior Jeffrey McCulloch played at 245 according to TexasSports.com
It’s a pivotal offseason for Overshown, but if he can prepare both physically and mentally for the position, it could pay dividends for the Arp native and the Longhorns in the near future.
“I did let him know that when scouts come around and they talk about him, that’s probably where his position in (the NFL) is going to be from all of the people in that league I’ve talked to about him,” Herman said. “He’s excited to get to work and be on the field.”
Whittington, a top 60 player from the class of 2019, was recruited to play receiver out of Cuero. Recruiting misses and limited depth in the running backs room drove his switch to running back last spring.
He missed most of last year due to a nagging groin injury. He’s still in the recovery process, but when he returns he’ll move out of Stan Drayton’s room and into Andre Coleman’s wide receiver room.
“This will be good for him to be trained again as a slot receiver and allow us to do a lot of things with him once he gets completely healthy,” Herman said.
Whittington recorded two receptions in his debut against Louisiana Tech before being sidelined for the remainder of the 2019 season. With Devin Duvernay graduating, he’ll compete with Jake Smith for snaps at the slot position.
During the course of his answers concerning Whittington, Herman mentioned another athletic star from DeWitt County. Herman said Whittington’s move to slot allows for sophomore Joshua Moore to play outside receiver in addition to competing for time inside.
Moore was arrested on weapons charges before the 2019 season began, and was held out of all 13 games. He remained with the team and practiced. He has a court date set for February 20 according to Travis County records.
Cook will practice at nickel, a position Herman claimed will look “pretty similar” to how it was utilized last year. With Cook practicing inside, the staff determined they needed Thompson to practice at corner.
Thompson redshirted last season after suffering an injury in the fourth game of the season. He’s bounced between corner and a safety role during his time at UT, but the coaches believe he’ll contribute to the 2020 secondary.
“He’ll find himself on the field somewhere, but he’ll start off playing corner this spring,” Herman said.
Herman also mentioned sophomore Roschon Johnson will stay at running back, and sophomore Malcolm Epps will practice with the Y’s, or tight ends.