Big 12: Ben Wells

Tracking Big 12 ESPNU 150 signees: 2007

January, 31, 2011
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ESPN the Magazine had a fascinating feature looking back at the past 25 No. 1 high school recruits, where they are now and what the ranking meant to them. With apologies to Vince Young, there aren't a ton of Big 12 talents on the list, but there have been plenty of great recruits to come through the Big 12. We took a look on Thursday at how the All-Big 12 team stacked up as recruits, and you saw quite a mixed bag.

Well, it's the same for the recruits who came to campus with high rankings and high profiles. Going back to 2006, here's how every Big 12 commit from the ESPNU 150 turned out. We'll eventually get to 2010 and the current class, 2011, around signing day, but here's how the 2007 class breaks down. 2007

No. 21: Tray Allen, OT, Texas. Forced to redshirt 2010 season after breaking a bone in his foot. Appeared in 31 games over first three seasons. Should be healthy for senior season in 2011.

No. 24: Christian Scott, S, Texas. Became a starter in 2010, starting eight games and playing in nine for the Longhorns. Made 54 tackles and had an interception. Forced to sit out 2009 season due to academic eligibility issues

No. 29: Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State. Caught 147 passes for 2,425 yards and 29 touchdowns in just over two seasons. Named All-American in 2008. Sat out final nine games of 2009 season because of NCAA suspension. Taken No. 24 overall in the 2010 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys.

No. 39: Austin Box, LB, Oklahoma. Battled knee and back injuries, but has been a periodic starter and consistent contributor for the Sooners. Has 106 tackles in three seasons.

No. 41: John Chiles, WR, Texas. Played quarterback in 2007 and 2008 before switching to receiver. Finished career with 65 catches for 752 yards and four touchdowns.

No. 42: Richetti Jones, DE, Oklahoma State. Emerged as one of the Cowboys' top reserves in 2010, when he notched 34 tackles, seven tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. Will be a senior in 2010.

No. 65: Keenan Robinson, LB, Texas. Started 24 games at outside linebacker in the last two seasons. Should be one of the Longhorns' defensive leaders in 2011 after making 194 tackles (110 solo), 4.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss in his career. Earned All-Big 12 honorable mention in 2009.

No. 71: Ryan Miller, OT, Colorado. Became a starter at tackle as a freshman, and became one of the Big 12's best offensive guards in 2009 and 2010 after missing most of the 2008 season with a broken fibula and being granted a medical hardship. He switched from tackle to guard after the injury and has twice earned All-Big 12 honorable mention.

No. 79: Ben Wells, CB, Texas. Had 12 tackles and a sack in 24 games before transferring from Texas last April.

No. 91: Derrick Stephens, LB, Texas A&M. Redshirted in 2007, but doctors forced him to quit football because of multiple concussions.

No. 97: Curtis Brown, CB, Texas. Became a starter late in 2008, finishing his career with 28 starts. Earned All-Big 12 honors in 2009 and 2010. Finished his career with 120 tackles, 32 passes broken up and a pair of interceptions.

No. 102: Malcolm Williams, S, Texas. Moved to receiver. Has 78 receptions for 1,118 yards and six scores in three seasons and 38 games.

No. 104: Conrad Obi, DE, Colorado. Moved to defensive tackle as a sophomore in 2009. Has four career tackles and played just 23 snaps in 2009, but blocked a field goal against Oklahoma State.

No. 109: Michael Keck, DE, Missouri. Quit team after one game in September of 2008, eventually transferring to Missouri State.

No. 114: Sam Acho, DE, Texas. Won Academic Heisman in 2010. Two-time All-Big 12 performer after becoming starter in 2009 and was an All-American selection in 2010. In 50 career games, finished with 148 tackles, 23.5 sacks (10th on UT's career list) and 37 tackles for loss. Projects as middle round pick in 2011 NFL draft.

No. 123: Bradley Stephens, RB, Texas A&M. Aggies reserve running back. Has 328 yards and a touchdown on 74 carries in three seasons.

No. 125: Michael Huey, OG, Texas. Started 20 games over four seasons, missed the final four games of 2010 with a knee injury. Earned All-Big 12 honorable mention in 2009.

No. 126: Kyle Hix, OT, Texas. Moved to left tackle as a senior, but started 39 games in his four-year career, earning All-Big 12 honorable mention in 2009.

No. 136: Cody Johnson, RB, Texas. Featured as a goal-line back with 30 career touchdowns. Will enter his senior season in 2011 with 1,265 career yards on 297 carries.

No. 142: Michael Ebbitt, DE, Texas A&M. Redshirted in 2007, but has seen very little playing time in three seasons.

Lunch links: Dylan Meier reactions, expansion, etc.

April, 21, 2010
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Really good set of stuff today, if I do say so myself. And I just did, so...yeah.

Dylan Meier

Expansion

Everything else


Not a great news day for the Longhorns.

Brewster, Walters will miss Texas' upcoming spring practice

February, 5, 2010
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Texas will be without safety Nolan Brewster and guard Mason Walters when the Longhorns begin spring practice in early March.

Texas athletic trainer for football Kenny Boyd said that Brewster (right shoulder) and Walters (left foot) will miss work that will begin with their practice in pads. And linebacker Emmanuel Acho, who underwent surgery for a sports hernia repair, will be limited when the Longhorns start.

Two practices will be open to the public on March 2 and March 8 at Texas' Denius Fields. They will begin at 4 p.m.

And the Longhorns also have scheduled their annual Spring Football Jamboree and Orange-White Game for Sunday April 4. More information and the starting time will be released by the school later.

Brewster's injury is significant because he would have had a shot at winning a starting safety slot during spring practice. He was backup to Earl Thomas last season. Christian Scott, Ben Wells and Blake Gideon are the prime returning players at that position.

Walters missed much of last season with the injury. His absence will keep him from immediately challenging in the battle to replace departing starting tackle Adam Ulatoski.

And with Acho missing at linebacker along with the departing Roddrick Muckelroy, players like Ryan Roberson, Dustin Earnest and Tariq Allen a chance for extra work .

Wells out, Chiles doubtful for UT's game against Aggies

November, 25, 2009
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Texas backup safety Ben Wells will miss Thursday's game at Texas A&M with an injury to his right ankle.

Texas head athletic trainer for football Kenny Boyd also said that wide receiver John Chiles is doubtful with a right ankle injury.

Starting cornerback Aaron Williams has been cleared to play after being hobbled by a right knee injury. Williams, who started Texas' first eight games this season, has been replaced by Chykie Brown in the Longhorns' starting lineup.

Muschamp looking for a shutout at UT's Sunday scrimmage

April, 2, 2009
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp has a simple, direct aim for his players.

"Any time you walk on the field, you want to compete and play well," Muschamp told reporters after the Longhorns practiced on Wednesday. "We're looking to shut the offense out. Our kids need to play hard and execute what we're going to do because we're not going to do a whole lot. It'll be the first time for a lot of these kids to line up in this stadium, so it will be an exciting time for them."

Because of construction at Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, the field will shrink to only 90 yards for the scrimmage. But even with that reduction, Muschamp is expecting a big effort from his team at an event that could attract up to 30,000 fans.

One area of concern heading into the scrimmage has been the defensive front. The Longhorns are effectively replacing three starters with returning starters Lamarr Houston and Sergio Kindle, who moves from linebacker to defensive end.

"We need to get better up front, that's the bottom line," Muschamp said. "We need to have more effective rushers than Sergio and we need to get better up front."

Muschamp has seen some recent improvement after some uneven work in the early part of the spring.

"We were OK in the first seven practices," Muschamp said. "I think as a defense we made some strides in the eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th practices, but we're still not where we need to be, especially at that position."

Freshman defensive end Alex Okafor, an early arrival from Pflugerville High School, has had his moments early in training camp. Muschamp is interested to see how Okafor will handle his first action in the mammoth stadium.

"He's a good athlete, he can play in space, he's a very smart kid and he's learned well in the time he's been here," Muschamp said. "But he's one of those who hasn't lined up in this stadium, hasn't lined up in front of a lot of people. So I'm looking forward to seeing him competing on Sunday."

Earlier in practice, Okafor received some rave reviews for his early work from coach Mack Brown.

"I would say the guy that's made the biggest impact has been Alex Okafor because he's really been good at pass rush and that's what we hoped," Brown said. "Now, he's just got to continue to get better against the run."

Texas' secondary has been fluid throughout spring and Muschamp said that the positional battles remain tight. Chykie Brown and Aaron Williams have emerged as the starters at cornerback, with Curtis Brown and Deon Beasley behind them.

Blake Gideon and Earl Thomas, last year's starters at safety, have reclaimed their starting positions with Christian Scott, Nolan Brewster and Ben Wells providing depth at the position. Williams and Thomas have also played the nickel back in the Longhorns' early spring work.

"We've been kind of by-committee day by day, based on our production from the previous night," Muschamp said.

Texas' young secondary faces huge challenge against FAU

August, 25, 2008
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

The defensive calls are simpler and some of the best young recruits in college football will be playing Saturday night in Texas' secondary in the Longhorns' season opener against Florida Atlantic.

And it still won't make Texas coach Mack Brown rest any easier over the next several nights before his team's first game.

The Longhorns will open the season with unprecedented youth in the secondary, including freshmen safeties Blake Gideon and Earl Thomas in the starting lineup.

Backing them up will be three more freshmen, all for a unit that a year ago ranked 109th nationally in passing, set school records for passing yards and touchdown passes allowed and is already breaking in a new coordinator.

Making the task even more perilous will be Florida Atlantic quarterback Rusty Smith, who passed for 3,688 yards and 32 touchdowns for the nation's 16th most potent passing attack last season.

And did we add that the largest crowd to attend a football game in Texas state history is expected?

So it's understandable that Brown isn't resting too comfortable these days -- getting ready for an opponent he calls the best team that has ever traveled to Austin for an opener in his 11-year coaching tenure there.

"It's hard to test them like they're going to be tested with that noise and with a bunch that's as good at throwing the ball as Florida Atlantic," Brown said about his defensive unit. "We're going to have to play well because they're going to throw the ball."

Brown is especially girding for an FAU offense that returns 10 starters and rolled up at least 30 points in six of its final seven games last season. Included in that run was FAU's 44-27 shellacking of Memphis in the New Orleans Bowl in the Owls' first postseason action in school history.

"You'd love to play older defensive backs," Brown said. "It's interesting that the best thing Florida Atlantic does is throw the ball and the thing we've had the most trouble with is stopping the pass. We're excited about it, but it's obviously a concern."

The Longhorns' injury woes worsened Monday when junior Ishie Oduegwu was announced out for the game after shoulder surgery. Oduegwu was the defense's most experienced player in the secondary with three career starts.

The Texas secondary is dotted with high school standouts who came to college with strong pedigrees. But it will be interesting to see how the Longhorns react to a solid passing team in their first game.

Thomas has been one of the most impressive players in Texas' training camp. And players
like Nolan Brewster, Christian Scott and Ben Wells all were heralded high school players. Collectively, Brown compares his incoming group in the secondary to the one that featured future NFL standouts Cedric Griffin, Michael Griffin and Michael Huff.

That group served as the core of the Longhorns' national championship team's secondary, but all played together early in their careers.

"It's only a concern because they haven't been out there, and we're going to need our fans to really help us because we're probably going to give up some plays," Brown said.

And it will only get worse for this group as gun-slinging Big 12 quarterbacks like Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel, Graham Harrell and Todd Reesing loom in upcoming weeks.

Brown wants this green group to grow up fast and get challenged early -- even if it might come with some growing pains along the way.

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