On a day of comings, there was one noteworthy going from the Lone Star State.
In the midst of National Signing Day, Reggie Hemphill-Mapps took to Twitter to announce that he has decided to transfer out of the Texas football program. “Thank you,” the wide receiver wrote in a very brief missive, adding, “Texas will always be in my heart.”
The announcement comes a couple of weeks after a report had surfaced that the redshirt freshman was seeking a transfer.
Hemphill-Mapps was a three-star member of the Longhorns’ 2016 recruiting class.
After redshirting as a true freshman, Hemphill-Mapps finished tied for second on the team in receptions with 37. His 402 receiving yards were good for third on the ‘Horns. He also added eight carries for 31 yards for good measure.
In the season-opening loss to Maryland, Hemphill-Mapps returned a punt 91 yards for a touchdown. He ended up averaging just under 11 yards per punt return, a number that was second in the Big 12 and 16th nationally.
It’s expected the Texas native will have to sit out the 2018 season if he ends up at another FBS program. That would then leave him with two more seasons of eligibility at his disposal beginning with the 2019 season.
This did not go according to plan for Tom Herman. In his coaching debut in Austin, Herman was unable to clean up enough mistakes and shaky play from his team as No. 23 Texas (0-1) dug a big hole early at home against Maryland (1-0). Despite a wild second half, Texas just could not get past Maryland as the Terrapins answered every threat from Texas down the stretch and delivered a knockout blow midway through the fourth quarter in the form of a Kasim Hill touchown. Hill’s fourth-quarter touchdown pushed Maryland’s lead to 44-34, which would end up being the final score. Maryland, who entered the game as an 18-point underdog, celebrated a 51-41 victory.
Hill scored the late touchdown, but the Terps were strong on the ground with Ty Johnson leading the charge with 127 yards and a score, averaging 11.5 yards per rush on the Texas defense, which may not have been as solid as anticipated at the start of the season. Maryland quarterback Tyrell Pigrome also got involved running the ball with 64 yards and a score to go with his 175 passing yards and two touchdowns through the air. It was more the kind of performance you would expect from a quarterback coached by Herman. Longhorns quarterback Shane Buechele had a productive afternoon with 300 passing yards and a touchdown and 21 rushing yards and a score, but too many poor passes soaring high or behind receivers led to near-interceptions and stalled any progress late in the game for a possible comeback.
Special teams gaffes and a defense unable to seize momentum were crippling for Texas (Maryland recovered a kickoff fumble and returned a blocked field goal for a score — although, so did Texas), but the offense was the most disappointing part of the Texas effort on Saturday. The Longhorns scored just 13 offensive points. Holton Hill gave the Longhorns a lead just three plays in the game with a 31-yard interception return for a score, and Hill returned a blocked field goal for another score later on. Reggie Hemphill-Mapps brought the Longhorns within three points in the third quarter with a 91-yard punt return for a score, but the teams traded blows from there to keep Maryland out in front the rest of the way. Texas hurt itself with over 100 yards in penalties as well.
So the Tom Herman run in Austin has some work to do. Transforming Texas into a Big 12 contender was not going to happen overnight anyway, and there are still 11 more games to play. Odds are we will still see a good number of positive developments from Texas moving forward, but a loss at home to Maryland is still a sour way to get things started. One thing you can say about a game like this from Texas is you have a laundry list of items you now know can be addressed. Let’s see how much of that laundry gets cleaned up in the next few weeks.
Maryland, however, showed some more reasons to be optimistic about the season than many probably thought possible. Wide receiver D.J. Moore (133 receiving yards) showed why he is one of the top receivers in the Big Ten, and Pigrome ran the offense well to keep things mixed up. This is a team that is still not on the same level as Ohio State or Penn State or Michigan, but it could end up being a team that could cause a few problems for any of those three at the top of the Big Ten East. This was a solid victory for D.J. Durkin.
Texas will host San Jose State next week before preparing for a major road test in Week 3 at USC. Maryland will be home next week for a home opener against in-state FCS opponent Towson.