Longhorn receivers fighting to emerge

AUSTIN, Texas -- On signing day, Texas coach Mack Brown brought his receivers into the film room and showed them the highlight reels of their new teammates.

“Grab and hold on now,” Brown told them. “There’s some good players in this group.”

Texas’ 2010 class included two of the top three receivers in the country (Mike Davis and Darius White), and another (Chris Jones) ranked No. 11 by ESPNU, and Brown wanted to make sure there was no confusion. The spring was their time to emerge, otherwise, the plays from that grainy video would come to life on the field while they watched from the sidelines.

“We’re always so honest with our kids, they expect that,” Brown said. “They know we’re going to play the best player, and we’re going to play the guy that competes the hardest.”

Brown provided a check-up before spring break, and after spring practice concludes with Sunday’s spring game, he’ll give them another. For better or worse, it’ll be a reality check.

“We’re going to sit down with each one of them and say, ‘you’re going to start behind the freshmen. You’re going to be ahead of the freshmen. You’re going to be even with the freshmen,’” Brown said.

With first-year starter Garrett Gilbert now their quarterback, establishing chemistry and trust now could mean big numbers later.

“Getting the speed and the timing down with those guys has been huge,” Gilbert said. “I feel like it’s developing every day and I think you can see it progressing as we go and as we’ve gotten further into spring.”

But unlike last season, when Jordan Shipley nearly tripled the production of Texas No. 2 receiver, a top target has yet to emerge.

“I’m not sure we’ll see that this spring,” Brown said.

Between Shipley and Quan Cosby, the Longhorns have had three 1,000-yard receivers in the past two seasons. Four Longhorn receivers will try to string together impressive seasons of their own. Brown says he feels Malcolm Williams, James Kirkendoll, John Chiles and Marquise Goodwin, who’s busy with track this spring, are “ready to play.”

He'll have a much better idea of just how ready on Monday morning.