Texas tight end Blaine Irby, who has not played in a game since sustaining a major knee injury in the 2008 Rice game, took part in spring football drills today. Irby has been cleared by team doctors to fully participate in spring practice. He ran routes today while wearing a brace on his right knee. His return would be a huge boost to a Texas offense that has been limited the past two seasons without a viable receiving threat at tight end.
During the 2008 season, Irby caught 10 passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns in the Longhorns’ first three games before sustaining a career-threatening knee injury that involved nerve damage. After two years of rehabilitation, Irby (6-foot-3, 242 pounds) will be classified as a senior for the 2011 season. But if he is able to participate, which remains to be seen, Irby would be eligible to appeal to the NCAA for a sixth season of eligibility for the 2012 season _ as receiver Jordan Shipley did before returning in 2009 _ because of extenuating medical circumstances.
In other news, cornerback Eryon Barnett (knee), a Euless Trinity graduate, will miss the 2011 season because of knee surgery.
In addition, coach Mack Brown said all jobs are open in spring drills. Although there is no established depth chart, Brown said there is a pecking order at quarterback, led by returning starter Garrett Gilbert and followed by Case McCoy, Brandon Wood and David Ash. All four players took snaps today with the first-team offense, Brown said.
_ Jimmy Burch