Texas football coach Charlie Strong opened his first fall camp with an authoritative statement Sunday, confirming the dismissals of three players from the roster and announcing the suspensions of three others on the day the Longhorns reported to campus.
Strong announced suspensions for offensive tackle Desmond Harrison, receiver/running back Daje Johnson and safety Josh Turner but did not specify the length of those suspensions.
“Games will be taken away from them,” Strong said. “Because we have core values within this program and we expect our players to abide by those values. We want to sure that, with the games that are taken away from them, that they understand just how important it is to represent this university on the field and off the field.”
Strong also confirmed media reports from last week when he announced the dismissals of running back Joe Bergeron, defensive back Chevoski Collins and running back Jalen Overstreet for what he described as multiple infractions of the team’s core values. Strong also said receivers Montrel Meander and Kendall Sanders, who were given indefinite suspensions after being linked to an alleged rape on campus, are no longer part of the program.
In addition to the departure of linebacker Kendall Thompson, a senior who was shifted to a medial scholarship because of recurring injuries, Texas is down to 75 scholarship players expected to take part in Monday’s initial practice of fall drills.
Strong stressed that he is comfortable leaning on several freshmen to take up the slack at receiver and defensive back, where many of the vacancies have occurred, because young players can contribute faster at reaction-based skill positions. Strong also denied media reports from last week that stated Turner had been dismissed from the program before talking his way back on to the team with significant restrictions.
“He never was dismissed,” Strong said. “I don’t know where that came from.”
Sunday’s actions mean seven players have been dismissed from the team by Strong since he replaced former coach Mack Brown in January. Combined with the three suspensions handed down Sunday, the Longhorns will be shy on experience at multiple positions heading into the team’s Aug. 30 opener against North Texas, a 9-4 team last season.
_ Jimmy Burch