Texas reports for 2011 season, loses senior WR

The Texas Longhorns reported to training camp Thursday ready to

leave behind the smoldering wreckage of their dismal 2010, but even

the fresh start on a new season came with the news they’ll be

without yet another veteran receiver.

Coach Mack Brown said senior Malcolm Williams, a well-liked

player who was also a key contributor on special teams, left the

team for personal reasons.

”Malcolm’s got some family issues,” Brown said without

elaborating. ”He’s been an outstanding player for us. He had some

tough things happen. I think this summer he was planning on playing

… I want what’s best for him.”

Williams played in 39 games, starting 18. He had 1,188 yards

receiving and seven touchdowns. His departure further depletes a

group of receivers that will also be missing junior Marquise

Goodwin, the U.S. national long jump champion who is skipping the

2011 football season to concentrate on the track world

championships and a chance to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.

Reserve receivers Brock Fitzhenry also will not return and Greg

Timmons, who played mostly on special teams last season, announced

in June he would transfer.

”We’re thin there,” Brown said. ”It puts us in a tough spot

with numbers.”

The Longhorns’ 5-7 finish last season was Brown’s first losing

season at Texas and first in 20 years as a head coach.

Brown revamped his staff with seven new assistants and declared

every position open in the spring and in training camp to renew a

sense of urgency in a program that Brown says had settled into a

sense of entitlement.

”I think everybody has renewed intensity,” senior linebacker

Emmanuel Acho said. ”You learn you’ve got to keep swinging.”

But even with the changes, the Longhorns have been picked to

finish in the middle or bottom half of the new 10-team Big 12, well

below rivals Oklahoma and Texas A&M. Texas went 2-5 at home

last season and goes on the road to play four of the teams that

beat the Longhorns in Austin last season.

”Anytime you come off a season like last year, you have a lot

to prove,” senior safety Blake Gideon said.

The biggest position battle of training camp will be at

quarterback, where junior Garrett Gilbert is fighting to keep the

starters’ job after throwing 17 interceptions against just 10

touchdowns last season.

Competing with Gilbert is sophomore Case McCoy, the younger

brother of former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, redshirt freshman

Connor Wood and true freshman David Ash. McCoy threw only one pass

last season but arguably outplayed Gilbert in the spring game.

Brown hasn’t given any hint as to who he expects to emerge as

the starter for the Sept. 3 season opener against Rice. Their

teammates were reluctant to shed much light on what they saw in

offseason practices, but junior defensive end Alex Okafor said

Gilbert ”really picked up his leadership.”

Brown, who often says the players know who should be the

starter, said he’s talked to them about the quarterbacks but

wouldn’t reveal what he’s heard. The coaches will chart every throw

and design drills that should allow the potential starter to

elevate himself from the group.

”The biggest thing is leadership,” Brown said. ”You’ve got to

protect the ball. You’ve got to put the ball in the end zone. We

feel like it’s going to be a great battle.”

The Longhorns also start training camp with a patchwork

offensive line that only has 36 cumulative starts among the

projected starters, with center David Snow (19) more than half of

those. That line will be expected to produce a better running game

than the one that ranked 66th in the country last season.

The uncertainty on offense puts more pressure on the defense and

new coordinator Manny Diaz to win games, a situation Diaz seems

ready to embrace.

”The defense determines whether you win or lose,” Diaz told a

group of fans on Wednesday. ”The offense determines by how