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Jake, Jordan or Josh – Who’s Next at the HWR Slot?

Jake, Jordan or Josh – Who’s Next at the HWR Slot?

Article Highlights

  • The HWR (slot) position has accounted for one-third of the Texas passing production the last two seasons.
  • The most likely players to take over are Jake Smith, Jordan Whittington and Joshua Moore.
  • New OC Mike Yurcich focuses his philosophy on players first, then specific plays.

The HWR slot position quickly developed into the focus of the Texas Longhorns passing game under Tom Herman. The last two players to start at HWR, Lil’Jordan Humphrey in 2018 and Devin Duvernay in 2019, each had one of the most productive seasons in school history.

Humphrey had 86 catches for 1,176 yards and nine touchdowns, while Duvernay compiled 106 catches for 1,386 yards and nine touchdowns. Each player’s yards accounted for about one-third of the team’s total receiving production.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the success of HWR spot is the vast difference in Humphry and Duverney. Humphry was a 6-5, 225-pound position receiver who played more like a tight end, out-bodying smaller defenders. Duvernay, at 5-10, was one of the fastest receivers in the country and had one of the lowest drop rates in school history. Still, both excelled in the slot.

A new starter must step up and fill the most important position in the Texas passing game. The likely candidates are Jake Smith, Jordan Whittington and Joshua Moore. Smith backed up Duvernay at the position last season.

New offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich has stated his philosophy of focusing on players first, then formations, then specific plays. This likely means he will develop plays and strategies depending on who emerges and who’s deserving of more playing time.

How confident will Sam Ehlinger continue to be in the HWR position with the third starter in as many years? The options for 2020 come with less experience than his targets the past two years. Here are what Smith, Whittington and Moore bring to the table:

Jame Smith, Sophomore

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Smith was the Gatorade Football Player of the Year coming out of high school. He totaled 207 yards and six touchdowns in the first five games as a freshman, but production dropped off dramatically in the second half of the season.
 
He showed up big against Texas Tech with 51 yards and one score. Smith is more of a quick-twitch route runner than Humphry or Duvernay. He showed last season that he can make difficult catches, but also had a couple costly fumbles being careless with the football.
 

Smith brings more game experience than Whittington or Moore, so expect him to be the #1 option early in the season. If he does get the bulk of the time int he slot, watch for more downfield routes that we saw with Humphrey and Duvernay.

Jordan Whittington, Redshirt Freshman

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Whittington moves back to his original receiver spot where he is a natural fit. He was forced to play running back as a freshman last season when the position was decimated with injuries.

However, Whittington suffered injuries of his own before undergoing surgeries. He’s expected to be fully healthy for 2020, which will be his redshirt freshman season.

He played multiple positions for state champion Cuero High School, and even won offensive and defensive MVP of the state title game. Even if Whittington doesn’t start at HWR, look for Yurcich to come up with creative ways to get him the ball.

He’s deadly in the open field, displaying terrific vision and the ability to make moves while maintaining speed. Don’t be suprised is hestill lines up in the back field at times.

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Joshua Moore, Sophomore

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Many fans predicted Joshua Moore would take over at the HWR spot last season. A former four-star high school prospect, he missed his entire sophomore season due to legal issues. He’s been reinstated and is already back for spring practices starting later this month.

More is taller than Smith and Whittington, and has a more traditional receiver frame. He could use a little more muscle to survive in the slot where linebackers can deliver poundings.

With Malcolm Epps moving to tight end, Moore is likely to play at one of the outside positions along with Brenan Eagles and Marcus Washington.

Who do you think will emerge as the leader in the HWR slot position? Comment on the Forums.

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