Texas loses LB Norton for season

Texas anointed tailback Tre' Newton as a starter Monday, but for the Longhorns the news was tempered by the loss of a key player on defense.

Coach Mack Brown's decision on Newton for Texas' game Saturday against UTEP came after the redshirt freshman was the featured back Saturday in the second half of a 34-24 victory over Texas Tech.

Newton got the chance to play when starter Vondrell McGee aggravated an ankle injury early in the second quarter.

Meanwhile, an injury in the season's first game has resulted in starting linebacker Jared Norton needing season-ending shoulder surgery.

Norton, who hasn't seen action in the last two games, had six tackles against Louisiana-Monroe and was expected to be a key player in the middle.

Texas officials say he hopes to be able to apply for a medical redshirt that would allow him to play in the 2010 season.

Newton produced career-high totals of 20 carries and 88 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown run in the triumph. He accounted for 18 carries in the second half of the game. It was his second touchdown run in as many weeks.

The big effort for Newton, the son of former Dallas Cowboys' offensive lineman Nate Newton, enabled him to claim Texas' season rushing lead. Newton has run for 178 yards with McGee at 140.

The move could signal the end of the Longhorns' rotational back-by-committee purpose that has marked the first three games this season.

McGee, Newton, Cody Johnson, Fozzy Whittaker and D.J. Monroe all have received game action at tailback. McGee and Whittaker have battled nagging injuries throughout the season.

"Cody was leading [in the spring] and then he pulled a hamstring. Vondrell and Fozzy had outstanding summers," Brown told reporters Monday in Austin. "Then, all of a sudden, Cody moves to the short-yardage back, Fozzy sprains his knee and Vondrell hurts his ankle. But we think Tre' is deserving."

Tim Griffin covers the Big 12 for ESPN.com.