The Texas secondary is full of veterans like Carrington Byndom, Quandre Diggs and Adrian Phillips. They have combined to start 70 games for the Longhorns and were impressed with first-time starter Duke Thomas and junior Sheroid Evans, who didn't start in Texas' 56-7 win over New Mexico State last Saturday but got plenty of playing time in the rout.
"They both played well," Byndom said. "With it being their first real starts, they played well. They ran to the ball. They tackled. Those are the things we want out of them. They're going to be vital for us this season."
Thomas, a sophomore from Copperas Cove did enough during the offseason to make his first career start this past weekend, making five tackles in the victory over the Aggies. Evans, one of the 10 fastest players in college football, according to CBSSports.com, made six tackles in the Longhorns' opener.
"You've got two guys that are really physical and love to play the game. Those two guys are going to be monsters for us," Diggs said. "Sheroid is probably my best friend on the team and being able to line up out there beside him, giving him calls and seeing how he reacts to things is so much fun. Duke is such a hard worker. He's been like that since he came in. He's my little brother on the team so I've got to take care of him. He does everything right and you can't ask anything else from Duke because he gives it up 110 percent each and every day."
Thomas made his start at cornerback, where Diggs has started for the past two years. Now Diggs plays nickel so the Longhorns can start five players in the secondary, making room for Thomas. Evans has yet to start a game but the Sugar Land product who came to Texas to play both football and track is starting to make a name for himself. He made more tackles (six) than he made in the entire 2012 season (five).
"Both Duke and Sheroid graded winning performances," Texas head coach Mack Brown said. "Sheroid missed a couple of tackles, he's got to get his head up. He needs to continue to work on his tackling. He's got suchg ood length. He's so fast. We need him to play."
The Longhorns face BYU in Provo this weekend, a game sure to give Texas a stiffer test than the one it got against New Mexico State. The competition for playing time in the secondary could also become stiffer with the return of junior Josh Turner, who missed last week's game with a hip injury. Turner comes back, along with sophomore wide receiver Kendall Sanders, who served a one-game suspension Saturday.
"They're proving themselves," linebacker Jordan Hicks said. "Duke is obviously a fast, high-intensity guy who will come and strike you. He does his thing on special teams. He's just an overall great player. Then, Sheroid is definitely coming along. Obviously his speed is remarkable. And he's out there making plays. It's good to see them out there doing well."