08 Oct

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Rough & tumble receivers relishing roles

The all-around dynamic duo of wideouts Collin Johnson and Lil'Jordan Humphrey relish their roles blocking, catching and even passing to get the Horns back to the top (Photo by Don Bender/Horns Illustrated).

By Habeab Kurdi

AUSTIN, Texas — Wonder duo wideouts Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Collin Johnson relish their roles dominating the football field in all fashions and facets with physicality.

All they’ve done is gone out and proven it.

“I feel like we’ve got one of the best receiving cores in the nation,” Humphrey said emphatically.

The spectacular speedsters stick to what they believe is the definition of a wide receiver — a complete wide receiver — in fulfilling their blocking roles with relish on top of the catching (and passing) sensational highlights. All of that was on full display in No. 9 Texas 48-45 win over No. 11 Oklahoma Saturday at a packed Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

“I don’t think you’re a complete receiver if you don’t block, and neither does this coaching staff,” Johnson said.

Against Oklahoma, which sports the more highly-touted receivers, the Texas wideouts stood out in amassing an amazing 15 catches for 214 yards combined.

Collin Johnson caught a touchdown pass from fellow wide receiver Lil'Jordan Humphrey Saturday in a big win over Oklahoma (Photo by Don Bender/Horns Illustrated).

M&M Sweeten the Scheme

They believe they’re the better and more complete players because of their doggedness in every single thing they do to add to the offense, with credit to wide receivers coach Corby Meekins and pass game coordinator/wide receivers coach Drew Mehringer.

“Coach Meekins talks about having a dog mentality, and that dog mentality is just dominating and don’t matter what you do — if it’s blocking, catching, cleaning,” Humphrey laughed. “(The key to blocking well is) strong hands and moving your feet, quick feet, that’s what I feel like is the key, and the mentality — the mindset.”

Throw in — literally — Humphrey’s touchdown pass to Johnson to cap Texas’ first offensive drive and set a tone early, and the duo’s fingerprints were all over the football and the victory.

Physical Mentality Instilled Everywhere

Sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week Monday, praised the receiving group’s blocking on screens that keep the chains moving when defenses stack the box against the run. Just another addition to the complete package both guys present, short, long and everything in-between.

“Those guys out there understand that if we’re blocking well on the perimeter our offense is going to run well,” Ehlinger said. “I think that's just how coach Herman instills this culture, the physical mentality and I think it shows throughout every position.”

Sam Ehlinger loves the commitment to physicality from the entire Texas Longhorns football team, especially that of his top-two wide receivers Lil'Jordan Humphrey and Collin Johnson (Photo by Don Bender/Horns Illustrated).

Humphrey says the Horns relish the role of blocking for each other because of their mentality. They simply want to outplay the secondary, whether they’re receiving or blocking on a particular play.

On the season, Humphrey now has a team-leading 35 catches for 535 yards (good for 16th in the nation) and four scores. On the other side, Johnson has 30 catches for 431 yards and four scores of his own — including the two hooking up for a touchdown in topping the Sooners Saturday.

Dominate On the Perimeter

“Our biggest thing is to dominate on the perimeter,” Humphrey said. “We try to enforce that against anybody that we play.”

Johnson and Humphrey have come up with leaping, diving and sprinting catches this season. It’s blocking that gets their eyebrows raised.

“That’s something we focused on in camp and that’s something coach Mehringer and coach Meekins pride themselves in,” Johnson said. “We definitely take that serious.”

The want to block comes from a ruggedness that runs through the Horns roster, Ehlinger agreed.

“When defenses are loading the box to take away the run, the screen game, to put the ball on the perimeter and rely on those guys to make good blocks and get four or five yards is a huge part of our offense,” Ehlinger said.

Seeing the blocking from the receivers makes even the offensive lineman, like Elijah Rodriguez, take notice, saying that the reason the Texas offense was on the verge of humming heading into Oklahoma is the ability to have everyone execute whatever is needed from them in that moment.

“What it comes down to is having all 11 guys execute on every single play,” he said. “The cool thing about offense is you can’t have one guy mess up. You can have two perfect plays and then on third down, if one guys messes up it stops the offense. It always comes down to execution.”