Posted by Jerry Hinnen
With Garrett Gilbert's reliability still a matter of debate and Texas's running game a work-in-progress (as always), the last thing Mack Brown needed was for his receiving corps to turn into a question mark, too. But that's just what's happened over the course of the offseason.
That became more true than ever Thursday as Brown announced that senior wide receiver Malcolm Williams would forgo his senior season to focus on "academics and family issues," as reported by CBSSports.com RapidReporter Steve Habel. A former blue-chip recruit, Williams was a projected 2011 starter after appearing in 39 games and collecting 1,188 receiving yards his first three seasons.
Brown admitted that Williams's departure (along with that of reserve receiver Brock Fitzhenry) "puts us in a tough spot with numbers." Williams and Fitzhenry give the Longhorns four departures at receiver this summer alone, with Greg Timmons's transfer and particularly the decision by Marquise Goodwin to skip the season to focus on the track World Championships already depleting the unit.
Result? The Longhorns return just two wideouts who caught more than one pass a year ago: sophomore Mike Davis (47 receptions, 478 yards) and junior DeSean Hales (10, 75). When Brown says freshmen Jaxon Shipley and Miles Onyegblue "will get a quicker look," he's not lying.
If Davis stays healthy, Gilbert cuts down on his interceptions, and five-star freshman Malcolm Brown invigorates the ground game, the Longhorns still might not notice the sudden depth issues at receiver. But that's a lot of "if"s for a 5-7 offense, and it seems increasingly likely that if one of them doesn't work out the way Brown would like, the receiving corps isn't going to be able to come to the rescue.