The Horn continues its position analysis of the Longhorns with an in depth look at the wide receivers.
Paired with a stout defense, Texas hopes to improve on the offensive side of the ball for the 2012 season. Without any impact players leaving, the Longhorns return a receiving core that looks to grow with another year of experience under their collective belts.
Last season, Texas’ passing game struggled quite a bit as the Longhorns boasted a relatively young group of wideouts (along with inexperience at quarterback). However, that same group should improve after another season of playing Division 1 football. Let’s take a further look at the Texas Longhorns wide receivers.
Starters: Jaxon Shipley, Mike Davis, Marquise Goodwin
Longhorn fans have been spoiled for years by wide receivers with the last name of Shipley, and last year was no exception. As a freshman, Jaxon Shipley represented the most explosive threat the Longhorns had on the outside all of last season. He led the team’s receivers with three touchdowns and had one fewer reception than team leader Mike Davis.
Following in the footsteps of successful, older brother Jordan, scouts have touted Jaxon the better of the two. If Jaxon can fill out his potential, the Longhorns will have a true number one receiver.
Last season’s team leader in receptions and receiving yards, Mike Davis will be the other starting wideout in Texas’ two receiver sets and the X-Factor of the Longhorn receivers. Davis has frustrated fans his last two seasons due to his lack of consistency. In the 2011 opener, Davis tallied 115 yards but was shutout against BYU as his up-and-down season continued.
Two years ago, Davis came into 2010 with plenty of hype as an incoming freshman. However, Davis has failed to live up to that excitement and potential. With Shipley’s breakout 2011 season and continual improvement, Davis no longer has to be the go-to receiver which will hopefully lead to a more consistent 2012 year.
As the third receiver, Marquise Goodwin is an unknown for this season. Given his Olympic commitment, Goodwin has been unable to train with the team this offseason and has been focusing his training on track. Last season, Goodwin had a productive 2011 for a third wide receiver with 33 receptions and two touchdowns.
Goodwin will need to get back football back into his system before fans should expect wildly productive results, which will put pressure on the reserves. Let’s take a deeper look into the Longhorns’ receiver depth.
Impact Reserves: Miles Onyegbule and DeSean Hales
Because of the squad’s young starters, Miles Onyegbule and DeSean Hales had very minor contributions to last year’s team. However, due to Goodwin’s lack of snaps with the offense, Onyegbule and Hales impact will be even more necessary this season.
In 2011, the pair combined for six receptions and 61 yards without any touchdowns. With Onyegbule the most likely to fill in for Goodwin, both players will need to step up significantly to offset Goodwin’s rust at the beginning of the season.
In order for the 2012 Longhorns to fulfill BCS expectations, the Longhorn wideouts will need to leave a huge handprint on this season.
With Shipley’s strong showing in his freshman season, fans should be confident in his ability to evolve into a dynamic number one receiver. He has all of the tools and talent to surpass the success of his brother. However, no Longhorn (besides maybe Ash or McCoy) is more important to the Longhorns’ success than Davis. The Longhorns already have solid contributions from the tail back and first receiver positions and Davis needs to be able to put up consistent numbers to take the pressure off Shipley.
Even if Davis comes through as well as Goodwin and the reserves, Ash (or McCoy) is arguably the biggest factor in terms of the receivers having an impact. In order for all of the wideouts to make contributions, they need consistent play from the quarterback position. Will they get it?
That is the biggest question of the Longhorns’ season.