Irby, Shipley to miss Longhorns' spring practice

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

AUSTIN, Texas -- Starting tight end Blaine Irby and wide receiver Jordan Shipley are among nine Texas players who will miss spring practice due to injuries.

Other players who will miss Texas' practices, which start Friday, include punter Trevor Gerland (knee), defensive tackle Jarvis Humphrey (kidney), defensive lineman Dominique Jones (shoulder), defensive end Eddie Jones (ankle), defensive back Kenny Vaccaro (knee), tight end Josh Marshall (limited to non-contact drills) and deep-snapper Alex Zumberge (shoulder).

Irby sustained a broken leg in Texas' third game last season against Rice and missed the rest of the season. Coach Mack Brown marvels at his spirit despite the injury.

"Blaine is doing pretty good," Brown said. "He is a wonderful young man who is really upbeat and positive. He's fighting it and coming back. You always worry about a guy who was starting and playing so well and then have that type of injury take his football (away) immediately. But he hasn't missed a workout and is trying his best to get back as soon as he can."

His absence this spring will make finding production at tight end one of the Longhorns' primary aims.

"We've had so many injuries at tight end," Brown said. "Those are positions hard to find any more because so few people are playing with a tight end and fewer are playing with a fullback in high school because of the influx of the Big 12's spread offense."

Greg Smith and Ahmard Howard are listed as co-starters at the position, with Ian Harris and D.J. Grant behind them.

"I would say it is as big a concern as we have offensively," Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis said. "I'm concerned about it. But the good thing about it is that it gives us a chance for some of those guys to get a bunch of snaps."

Davis also conceded that Irby's injury explained why the Longhorns struggled running the ball.

"There's no question as much (four-wide receiver) as we used was a factor in our running game," Davis said. "We've got to find out if one or two of those guys are going to be able to do what we want done."

Shipley underwent shoulder surgery on Jan. 23, repairing an injury that bothered him most of the 2008 season.

"When they told us Jordan would have his operation we were disappointed for him he would have it," Brown said. "But at the same time he doesn't need spring. He can be out there running. As soon as he gets his brace off, he can get in great shape. And with all of the pounding his body has taken we thought it was a real plus. He could rest his body and it forces us to look at some of the young guys who haven't been out there."

Shipley's injury will provide a chance for young receivers like Brock Fitzhenry, Dan Buckner and DeSean Hales to have more playing time this spring.

"We're going to get really good looks at them," Brown said. "They'll have to be out there when it matters so the pace will pick up for them."

The Longhorns also announced that senior safety Ishie Oduegwu has decided to give up football after a series of injuries.

Oduegwu started three games in the 2007 season, but missed last year after having shoulder surgery before the season -- his fifth operation since arriving at college.

"We're pleased for Ishie that he's done so well here," Brown said. "He's had a real tough run with his injuries and he just felt like it was time for him to move forward with his life."