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Texas’ second-leading receiver transferring from Longhorns

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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.┬á His 402 receiving yards were good for third on the ‘Horns.┬á 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┬ásit out the 2018 season if he ends up at another FBS program.┬á That would then leave him with two more seasons of eligibility at his disposal beginning with the 2019 season.

Record number of players on NFL’s official early-entry list for 2018 draft

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If it seemed to you like there were an inordinate number of early cannonballers jumping into the draft pool, you were correct.

Four days after the Jan. 15 deadline, the NFL Friday announced that 106 players have been granted special eligibility for the April draft.  That sets a new record for early entrants, breaking the mark of 98 set in 2014.  The past two seasons, there were 95 and 96 in 2017 and 2016, respectively.  In 2015, there were just 74.

The SEC was hit hardest by attrition with 26 players leaving early, although the ACC wasn’t far behind at 24.┬á The Pac-12 was next among the Power Five conferences with 17, followed by the Big 12’s 13 and the Big Ten’s 11.

Among Group of Five leagues, Conference USA lost the most with four.  The Mountain West saw three go early, with the AAC (two), MAC (one) and Sun Belt (one) coming next in line.  There were also two non-FBS players who left early, as well as two from Notre Dame.

As far as individual schools go, there were three that lost six apiece — Florida State, LSU and Texas.┬á Alabama lost five, while Auburn, Miami, Oklahoma, UCLA, and USC all lost four apiece.┬á Clemson, Florida, Louisville, Stanford and Tennessee were on the losing end of three players each.

In addition to the 106 granted special eligibility┬á— they’ll be listed at the end — the NFL also granted eligibility to 13 players who the league writes “have in timely fashion under NFL rules officially notified the league office that they have fulfilled their degree requirements.” Those players are listed below:

┬╗ Jordan Akins, TE, UCF
┬╗ Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
┬╗ Kyle Allen, QB, Houston
┬╗ Will Clapp, C, LSU
┬╗ Terrell Edmunds, DB, Virginia Tech
┬╗ Taylor Hearn, G, Clemson
┬╗ Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State
┬╗ Sam Jones, G, Arizona State
┬╗ Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
┬╗ Brian O’Neill, T, Pittsburgh
┬╗ Christian Sam, LB, Arizona State
┬╗ Tre'Quan Smith, WR, UCF
┬╗ Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Courtesy of the NFL, below is the complete list of 106 players who have been granted special eligibility for the 2018 NFL Draft:

┬╗ Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame
┬╗ Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, DE, Toledo
┬╗ Jaire Alexander, DB, Louisville
┬╗ Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
┬╗ Dorance Armstrong, DE, Kansas
┬╗ Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State
┬╗ Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
┬╗ Jessie Bates, DB, Wake Forest
┬╗ Orlando Brown, T, Oklahoma
┬╗ Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
┬╗ Deontay Burnett, WR, USC
┬╗ Deon Cain, WR, Clemson
┬╗ Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida
┬╗ Geron Christian, T, Louisville
┬╗ Simmie Cobbs, WR, Indiana
┬╗ Keke Coutee, WR, Texas Tech
┬╗ Vosean Crumbie, DB, Nevada
┬╗ J.J. Dallas, DB, Louisiana-Monroe
┬╗ James Daniels, C, Iowa
┬╗ Sam Darnold, QB, USC
┬╗ Carlton Davis, DB, Auburn
┬╗ Michael Dickson, P, Texas
┬╗ Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
┬╗ DeShon Elliott, DB, Texas
┬╗ Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
┬╗ Matt Fleming, WR, Benedictine
┬╗ Nick Gates, T, Nebraska
┬╗ Rashaan Gaulden, DB, Tennessee
┬╗ Frank Ginda, LB, San Jose State
┬╗ Rasheem Green, DT, USC
┬╗ Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
┬╗ Ronnie Harrison, DB, Alabama
┬╗ Quadree Henderson, WR, Pittsburgh
┬╗ Holton Hill, DB, Texas
┬╗ Nyheim Hines, RB, NC State
┬╗ Jeff Holland, LB, Auburn
┬╗ Mike Hughes, DB UCF
┬╗ Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
┬╗ Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB, Western Kentucky
┬╗ Ryan Izzo, TE, FSU
┬╗ Donte Jackson, DB, LSU
┬╗ J.C. Jackson, DB, Maryland
┬╗ Josh Jackson, DB, Iowa
┬╗ Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
┬╗ Derwin James, DB, FSU
┬╗ Richie James, WR, Middle Tennessee
┬╗ Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
┬╗ Courtel Jenkins, DT, Miami
┬╗ Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn
┬╗ Ronald Jones, RB, USC
┬╗ John Kelly, RB, Tennessee
┬╗ Arden Key, LB, LSU
┬╗ Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
┬╗ Du’Vonta Lampkin, DT, Oklahoma
┬╗ Jordan Lasley, WR, UCLA
┬╗ Chase Litton, QB, Marshall
┬╗ Tavares Martin, WR, Washington State
┬╗ Hercules Mata’afa, DE, Washington State
┬╗ Ray-Ray McCloud, WR, Clemson
┬╗ Tarvarus McFadden, DB, Florida State
┬╗ R.J. McIntosh, DT, Miami
┬╗ Reginald McKenzie, DT, Tennessee
┬╗ Quenton Meeks, DB, Stanford
┬╗ Kolton Miller, T, UCLA
┬╗ D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
┬╗ Ryan Nall, RB, Oregon State
┬╗ Nick Nelson, DB, Wisconsin
┬╗ Kendrick Norton, DT, Miami
┬╗ Isaiah Oliver, DB, Colorado
┬╗ Dwayne Orso-Bacchus, T, Oklahoma
┬╗ Da’Ron Payne, NT, Alabama
┬╗ Kamryn Pettway, RB, Auburn
┬╗ Eddy Pineiro, K, Florida
┬╗ Trey Quinn, WR, SMU
┬╗ D.J. Reed, DB, Kansas State
┬╗ Justin Reid, DB, Stanford
┬╗ Will Richardson, T, NC State
┬╗ Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
┬╗ Austin Roberts, TE, UCLA
┬╗ Korey Robertson, WR, Southern Miss
┬╗ Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
┬╗ Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama
┬╗ Dalton Schultz, TE, Stanford
┬╗ Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech
┬╗ Andre Smith, LB, UNC
┬╗ Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
┬╗ Van Smith, DB, Clemson
┬╗ Breeland Speaks, DE, Ole Miss
┬╗ Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame
┬╗ Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State
┬╗ Auden Tate, WR, Florida State
┬╗ Maea Teuhema, T, Southeastern Louisiana
┬╗ Trenton Thompson, DT, Georgia
┬╗ Kevin Toliver, DB, LSU
┬╗ Travonte Valentine, NT, LSU
┬╗ Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
┬╗ Vita Vea, NT, Washington
┬╗ Mark Walton, RB, Miami
┬╗ Denzel Ward, DB, Ohio State
┬╗ Chris Warren, RB, Texas
┬╗ Toby Weathersby, T, LSU
┬╗ Jordan Whitehead, DB, Pittsburgh
┬╗ JoJo Wicker, DT, Arizona State
┬╗ Jalen Wilkerson, DE, Florida State
┬╗ Connor Williams, T, Texas
┬╗ Eddy Wilson, DT, Purdue

Longhorns get contributions all over to top old Big 12 rival Missouri in the Texas Bowl

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Michael Dickson may not be in the same conversation as┬áVince Young when it comes to heroic performances in the annals of Texas football but he certainly was — no joke — operating at the same level on Wednesday night.┬áThe NFL-bound punter and Ray Guy Award winner put on a special teams masterclass to help the Longhorns (7-6) beat old Big 12 rival Missouri (7-6) in the Texas Bowl 33-16 and cap off the first season of the┬áTom Herman┬áera with a victory.

Hard as it is to believe, Dickson was a well deserved MVP even if the other two phases of the game also played a big role in delivering Texas their first winning season since 2013. He punted 11 times in the game for nearly 500 yards but most impressively nailed 10 of those punts inside the Missouri 20 yard line.

That backed the Tigers up on a consistent basis and played a huge role in the team’s average starting field position being their own 16 yard line.

Of course it didn’t help that they couldn’t get much going offensively as quarterback┬áDrew Lock came back down to Earth after a hot second half of the season and threw for only 269 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Some of his performance could be attributed to offensive coordinator┬áJosh Heupel departing early in bowl preparations to take the UCF job but it was still a pretty rough outing after the team entered the game as one of the most high-powered attacks in the SEC.

The Longhorns offense wasn’t a world-beater themselves but they had their moments after an inconsistent 2017 campaign. Freshman┬áSam Ehllinger┬áhad a nice game to send him into the offseason with momentum by going 11-of-15 for 112 yards in the air with a touchdown and 17 yards rushing. Fellow signal-caller┬áShane Buechele┬áwas also part of the rotation behind center and threw a touchdown to kick off scoring in the first quarter.

Freshman tailback Daniel Young was the star of the show however and took full advantage of transfers, injuries and suspensions at the position to post a breakout performance. He led the team with 48 yards rushing and led the Horns in receiving as well, hauling in three passes for 64 yards and a wide-open touchdown.

Not to be out done,┬áTodd Orlando’s┬ádefense also showed why they were one of the better units in the country this season and proved to be more than capable of replacing a few stars with star defensive back┬áDeShon Elliott off to the NFL and┬álinebacker┬áMalik Jefferson unable to play due to injury. Anthony┬áWheeler┬áscored┬áTexas’ eighth non-offensive touchdown of the year (most in the FBS) when he recovered a fumble and rumbled┬á38 yards to the house to help break things open in the second quarter. Corner┬áDavante Davis┬ádidn’t wind up in the end zone but may have been more productive with six tackles, a forced fumble and an interception.

While the loss isn’t what Missouri was looking for against their old conference rival, it was still a heck of a turnaround for the Tigers to even play in the game after the start they had, much less to capture seven wins. A lot of eyes will be on┬áBarry Odom┬áover the next few weeks though as he has some big decisions ahead when it comes to his coaching staff and particularly with a pair of new coordinators.

As far as the Longhorns go it was a nice way to close out the beginning of the Herman era on the 40 Acres even if the year overall is a bit of a disappointment given the expectations in Austin. A bowl victory, a winning season, a top three recruiting class and the bulk of the team returning for 2018 is a nice way to transition into Year 2 however and could just what Texas needs to get back on track after a few years in the college football desert.

Texas rolling on both sides of the ball against Missouri in the Texas Bowl

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The last time Texas appeared in the Texas Bowl, things didn’t go well at all for the Longhorns.

Three years and a new coaching staff later, there’s a much different story to tell as the Burnt Orange┬átook a 21-7 lead over old Big 12 rival Missouri going into halftime on Wednesday night.

In contrast to a few of the team’s games during the regular season, Texas head coach┬áTom Herman got plenty of production out of both sides of the ball. Offensively the team went with┬áShane Buechele┬áas the starter at quarterback but both he and backup┬áSam Ehlinger found success against the Tigers defense. The two combined for 117 yards and a touchdown pass each, the first coming from Buechele to a wide open┬áDaniel Young out of the backfield for a 22 yard score. Ehlinger┬ádidn’t have things quite as easy as that but did find┬áJohn Burt┬áfrom seven yards out as the wideout made a great catch to get six.

Young also added XX yards on the ground as the featured back.

The Longhorns defense also came to play despite being without a host of starters. Linebacker┬áAnthony Wheeler┬árecovered a fumble and ran it back 38 yards for a touchdown to extend the lead in the second quarter and Davante Davis┬áalso forced another fumble to cap off another stand for Todd Orlando’s unit. Ray Guy Award winner┬áMichael Dickson showed why he was the best punter in college football with seven punts and six of them landing inside the opposing 20.

Mizzou looked like they were without offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, who was not with the team for the game after taking the UCF head coaching position. The Tigers started the game with three 3-and-outs and had five overall in the half — failing to record a first down until just before the start of the second quarter.┬áRunning back Ish Witter did run for 44 yards and a touchdown┬ábut fumbled, and quarterback Drew Lock didn’t look anything like the record-setter he was during the regular season with just 91 yards passing.

There’s still plenty of time left for both teams in the Texas Bowl but it’s pretty clear that the former Big 12 team has a little more work cut out for them than the current one.

Second-leading receiver among three Texas players suspended for bowl game

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Even as it seems like it of late, bowl suspensions aren’t just limited to Notre Dame.

Texas announced Friday afternoon that three players, running back Toniel Carter, tight end Garrett Gray and wide receiver┬áLil’Jordan Humphrey, have all been suspended for the Dec. 27 Texas Bowl matchup with Missouri.┬á Other than unspecified violations of team rules, no specific reason was given for the suspensions.

Humphrey is the most notable name amongst the suspended trio.

In the regular season, Humphrey was second on the Longhorns in receptions with 37 and yards with 431.┬á He also added another touchdown — and 41 yards on six carries — on the ground.

Given Chris Warren‘s decision to transfer, Carter’s absence will also be more than a bit of a loss as his 252 yards are good for fourth on the team.┬á Warren’s 314 yards, meanwhile, are third.

Gray has caught four passes for 18 yards this season.