By Steve Habel, Senior Contributing Writer
AUSTIN – If National Signing Day, that first-Wednesday-in-February-college-football-almost-holiday, seemed a little sedate this year, blame it on early signing day in December, a time when the Texas football team inked 22 players.
On Wednesday, the Longhorns officially added much-ballyhooed potential two-way player Bru McCoy as a transfer from Southern California, and coveted offensive lineman Javonne Shepherd to the class of 2019, capping the signees for the year at 24.
Expect Texas to still scour the graduate transfer portal, with offensive line depth and maybe an additional running back on its wish list if the right player becomes available.
McCoy, who played at Mater Dei High School in Palos Verdes, Calif., committed to the Trojans in December but recently changed his mind and bolted to the Forty Acres. Because he attended classes at USC, McCoy will need to be granted a waiver from the NCAA to be eligible to play without sitting out a season.
During his press conference Wednesday, Texas head coach Tom Herman lauded McCoy for the way he conducted his business and for how he allowed his instinct to guide him in the decision to leave USC and sign with Texas.
“Every situation is unique, you know,” Herman said. “I applaud Bru and his courageousness to say, ‘hey, this is not where my heart is, and I'm going to do something to change that.’"
Herman continued, “The first thing [that impressed me about him is] his character, his intelligence. He's obviously a very convicted kid to be able to do what he did in spite of all of the reasons for him maybe not to. He showed me a lot of fortitude in just that one thing that he did."
The addition of McCoy to the class elevated the Texas list of signees to the No. 3 ranking nationally.
Shephard, who has been verbally committed to the Longhorns for months and had done everything but sign on the dotted line, is an important piece to Texas’ offensive line puzzle.
“Javonne’s got a size-to-athleticism ratio that we don't even currently have on our roster,” said Herman about Shephard. “You're talking about a high school senior that's 318 pounds and 6'6" that can really, really, really move his feet. It took a lot of effort to keep him in this class, but none that we weren't prepared for, none that we ever panicked, none that we ever really doubted where his heart was.”
Other items addressed by Herman Wednesday included:
♦ An update on December signee Derrian Brown, a 4-star running back from Buford, Georgia who reportedly had surgery in late January to remove a blood clot from his brain.
“At the request of the family, we are just saying that Derrian has been hospitalized for undisclosed reason,” Herman said. “He still has a battery of tests to figure out exactly what his ailment is. It would probably be premature to assume anything.
“The family does want everyone to know that he is getting better every day. He is moving all of his extremities. Derrian is alert – they actually took the ventilator out (Wednesday) so he's breathing on his own.”
♦ An update on offensive lineman Patrick Hudson, who suffered a heat-related illness during a practice last fall that kept him off the field and out of game action.
“Patrick is currently taking some time away from the team just to kind of figure out what he wants to do moving forward and weigh all of his options,” Herman said. “But the possibility of him returning to the program is certainly still on the table.”
On the coaching front
♦ Herman announced some changes to roles within his staff, which remains intact for the third straight offseason.
Derek Warehime will add the coaching of special teams title to his tight ends coaching title. That move will free some responsibility off of safeties coach Craig Naivar to help out more defensively, especially with the development of game plans. Naivar will add co-defensive coordinator to his title.
Herman also congratulated wide receiver coach Drew Mehringer for his recognition as National Recruiter of the Year by two different outlets.
“As with any of these kind of awards, I think we all know that it is very much a team effort,” Herman said about Mehringer’s recognition. “Drew would be the first to tell you the two most influential people in his recruitment success would be Brian Carrington and Tim Beck, who obviously assisted Drew pretty much every step along the way.”
Buechele bound for 'Elsewhere U'
♦ Herman confirmed that backup quarterback Shane Buechele will not practice with the team this spring. Buechele has announced that he plans to graduate from Texas after the spring semester and play for another college in the fall as a graduate transfer.
“Shane didn't feel right being around his team,” Herman said when asked about Buechele. “He's still on scholarship here. He's still training. He's got access to all of our academic facilities and whatnot. And we check on him about once a week just to see how he's doing academically to see if he needs anything. But his comfort level was not great with trying to go through, and I certainly respect that.”
Herman announced that his team will begin spring practice on March 11 and spread its 15 allowed work days through April 13, the date for the annual Texas Orange-White Spring Game. The team will also conduct its pro day on March 27 for those Longhorn players who have hopes of moving on for a chance at the NFL this year.
Full Herman press conference
Video courtesy of Texas Sports