New Texas offense wows WR K.D. Cannon

K.D. Cannon came to Texas with questions. He went home with answers.

The Mount Pleasant (Texas) wide receiver prospect took in the Longhorns’ junior day on Saturday with the hopes that the coaches were going to back up all their talk.

If things were going to go much further between Cannon and UT, he had to know the staff meant what it said when it vowed Cannon would get to play in an up-tempo, pass-heavy offense and catch a lot of balls if he signs with the Longhorns.

Knowing the program’s reputation for its running backs the past two years, Cannon was skeptical. He needed to see a spring practice to start believing. And on Saturday morning, he got exactly what he wanted.

“I saw they have an up-tempo offense,” Cannon said. “They spread the ball out a lot more. They’re going four-wide a lot more and getting the ball to their playmakers."

What coach Mack Brown and his assistants told Cannon during the day was just as reassuring.

“The coaches were telling me that they could throw the ball 40 times a game,” he said. “Last year, they said they threw around 15 or 20. They’re going to spread the ball out a lot more, because you’ve got to now. The defenses are starting to stop the run, so you’ve got to spread the ball out.”

Those numbers might sound a tad misleading, considering David Ash averaged 26 passes per game in 2012 and attempted 29 or more in six games, but the point is the same: Texas is committed to throwing the ball around, especially if Cannon is a part of its offense’s future.

As he’s been told all along, the 6-foot-1, 165-pound receiver was reminded Saturday that he’s Texas’ No. 1 target at receiver. With Lorenzo Joe and Roderick Bernard already in the class, Cannon is a major priority.

“They need speed on the outside to stretch the defense,” he said. “That’s why they really want me to come.”

For Cannon, the key to watching Texas’ Saturday morning practice -- only its second of the spring season -- wasn’t to see how far Ash or his backups have come. It wasn’t as much about the other Texas receivers or how they performed, either.

It was the offensive concepts, the schemes that new play-caller Major Applewhite is installing this spring, that impressed the ESPN Watch List wideout.

“The big thing was the formations, because it was just like how we run it at my high school,” Cannon said. “It was kind of the same exact offense. I think they’re going to be successful with it. They’re going to stick with it because everyone knows they can run, so the passing game can get a lot of teams.”

That revelation was one of the many highlights of what Cannon considered a successful trip to Austin. He’s already been on campus plenty for home games, but Cannon said this was his best visit to Texas yet.

Getting a full tour of UT was important. Coming from a small town, he’d always assumed he would prefer a smaller college campus. By the end of that tour, Cannon was confident Texas wouldn’t be too big for him.

The other highlight, he said, was hanging out with coaches and players. He said the players treated him with respect, and he liked that the coaches, as he put it, “tell you how it is.”

The best example of that is Cannon’s relationship with receivers coach Darrell Wyatt, which might be unlike any other he’s developed with a recruiter.

“I like that every time I go there, he shows me my film and he tells me a lot about what I’m doing wrong,” Cannon said. “Most coaches will just show me the film and tell me what I’m good at. He tells me what I’m doing wrong and what I can work on.”

It’s those little critiques -- how he runs his routes, for example, or his releases off the line against press coverage -- that have piqued Cannon’s interest in playing for Wyatt someday.

“It makes me think a little bit,” Cannon said. “I’d rather have a coach that tells me when I’m doing something wrong than praises me when I’m doing something good.”

Texas did help itself considerably in Cannon’s eyes, but he’s still not naming any favorites. He continues to say he’s wide open to considering any and all schools.

After taking visits to Texas Tech, Baylor and Texas all in a two-week span, Cannon expects things to slow down now.

He’s planning to be back at Texas for the Orange-White spring game and Texas Relays on March 30, but other than that he hasn’t lined up any more unofficial visits.

“I do want to go to Oklahoma, because I haven’t been there yet this spring,” he said. “I want to go to Oklahoma State and TCU and a couple other schools.”

Cannon still feels a long way away from narrowing things down, still envisions making his decision after his senior season. As much as he enjoyed his three recent visits, they’re just the beginning.

“I might wait to take all my official visits first,” Cannon said. “The official visits show you a lot more because they’ve got more time with you. I’d use them on my five favorite schools so I can get to know them better.”