At the outset of the 2019 National Championship game between Clemson and LSU, the main storyline was how the Dabo Swinney Tigers had adopted Auburn’s 3-1-7 system as their main deterrent for the potent Joe Burrow offense. They spun down big safeties Isaiah Simmons and Tanner Muse into linebackers, removed a defensive tackle from the field, and played some tight matching cover 3 and bracket quarters schemes without fielding a single player in the backfield lacking some training and ability as a defensive back. It worked for a while, stymieing the LSU passing game by confusing Joe Burrow and the offensive line.
A short internet search of the term “Holton Hill NFL Draft” yields surprisingly few results. There are a couple of stories from local outlets that provide short summaries of Hill’s stellar play in 2018. One of the first page results has “2019 NFL Draft” in the title, but with the way the junior corner is playing, that may need to be moved up a year.
Sophomore Brandon Jones and junior Kris Boyd both have a lot in common. Both were highly touted defensive backs from East Texas who were asked to contribute a lot as true freshmen. Now with more experience under their belts, both players enter 2017 as key players in Todd Orlando’s defense.
As promised, I'll break down the entire roster based on what we know of each player to this point. Remember, a player's story is never fully written until his eligibility is fully exhausted. How many gave up on guys like John Harris, Mykkele Thompson, and Steve Edmond? The answer, way too many people.
Regardless of whether or not Texas is ‘Defensive Back U,’ a title multiple universities lay claim to, the Longhorns’ football program has put talented defensive backs into the NFL for the better part of this century. In the last several years, the secondary has not lived up to the play required to claim that title, and current players, like junior safety DeShon Elliott and senior nickelback Antwuan Davis, know that.
Recent developments at the cornerback position have me wanting to reset the conversation from the program on down to the class of 2018. Texas fans know who DBU is and don't need articles from the media to write it to affirm that belief. We know the crown isn't up for grabs on a yearly or even quadrennial basis. Hell, even when the product is poor on the field Texas is still putting defensive backs in the NFL at a better rate than most.
This is the time of year when you take elites, or guys who give your class protection from suffering a big miss late. So far this class is just that across the board, and in some cases (Ehlinger, Tennison, Carson, Miller), it's both. That's not to say the other guys aren't anything more than just Strong playing CYA (cover your ass), they are, and in fact, UT's two lowest rated recruits, Xavier Newman and Kobe Boyce, are both heading to The Opening. Meaning they're headed for big jumps in the rankings world, especially once they perform well.
The Longhorns love recruiting East Texas. They landed a big one today. Hooks WR Montrell Estell committed to Texas today. The 4-star athlete held offers from Texas A&M, Baylor, and Alabama.
We'll look at defense; the bread, butter, crust, and sesame seed of Charlie Strong's football existence. Last year the defense was more crouton than anything else; stale and too easily to crumble. This doesn't mean the defensive staff forgot how to bake or construct a winning recipe. As we heard throughout spring and witnessed in the scrimmage itself, Strong and Vance Bedford have elected to alter to a 4-2-5 rather than sticking with the 3-3-5 from the last two seasons.