By Steve Habel, Senior Contributing Writer
AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Longhorns had good enthusiasm and relatively good execution when they returned to the practice field Monday after 10 days off for spring break, leading coach Tom Herman to remark about how his team has taken a “professional” approach to the workouts.
The practice, just the Longhorns’ second of 11 in pads of the spring, left some players a “little rusty, a little gassed” from coming off a break with no football, Herman said, but that was to be expected.
“I like the effort level of this team,” Herman said. “There’s not a lot of 'rah-rah' out there, but we don’t need that right now. There are a lot of guys that are leading by example, and we are being as physical as we can be.”
Part of the Longhorns’ focus comes from their success last season and the momentum that winning creates. A total buy-in from the players based on the “1-0 this week” mantra from Herman and his staff has a lot to do with it, as well.
Despite last taking the field March 16 when Texas worked in pads for the first time this spring, there was no ill effect from the break, despite Herman's concern that there might be.
“There was no interruption," Herman said. "It had a chance to, if we didn’t come out focused and with the intensity and effort like we did today. The next three weeks will be very rhythmic and routine, and we feel good about what we can get accomplished.”
Herman had to stop and think about who has stood out the most through the first four days of the spring, finally saying that sophomore running back Keaontay Ingram and redshirt freshman linebacker Ayodele Adeoye have caught the staff’s collective eye.
The team wanted Ingram to add some weight in the offseason to better absorb the punishment he will take as a ballcarrier and as a pass protector.
“Keaontay put on a really good 12 to 14 pounds, and he seeing plays develop a little better and he has better patience and vision,” Herman said. “Good weight is padding for your body, like armor, especially for your joints. When you add the weight like he has so quickly, and he’s still able to move around, you can see him running around out there with confidence.”
Adeoye, who suffered a knee injury in preseason practice last year, finally is making plays like he was expected to when he arrived. He only played in special teams last year, but will make a bid to be in the mix for the Longhorns’ middle linebacker spot in the fall.
“Ayodele moving better, learning the position more, and he’s changed his body,” Herman said about the 6-foot-1, 250 pounder. "He’s natural, a run-and-hit guy. When he runs you down he really hits you, and his confidence is up because he’s not worried about his knee anymore.”
In other news Monday:
• Herman said sophomore safety B.J. Foster took a knee to the head near the end of Monday’s practice and will be evaluated.
• Cornerback Anthony Cook and wide receivers Collin Johnson and Devin Devernay did individual work Monday, their first of the spring, and will do more as the practices go on with the hope of eventually being in team scrimmages.
• Herman said backup redshirt freshman quarterback Casey Thompson has looked good and that Thompson will have his workload increased beginning this week. “I’m pleased at Casey’s progress,” Herman said. “We have to give him some reps with the ones, and we will slowly start working him in with that unit.”