Because junior Ishie Oduegwu is out after undergoing shoulder surgery Monday morning, every single available safety is either a redshirt or a true freshman. Every one of those freshmen also have an "or" next to their name, meaning that there are no set starters at safety.
"All five of those guys could start on Saturday. They have not separated enough," said head coach Mack Brown.
Competition is also tight at wide receiver. Because a third receiver hasn't been settled upon, seniors Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley get the starting nods at split end and flanker, with the most likely third receiver, Malcolm Williams, listed at Sub-B (slot). But hanging tight with Williams are Brandon Collins, James Kirkendoll and Dan Buckner, among others.
"We would not have a third receiver right now," said Brown. "We're still looking. We have it then it goes and changes. Somebody needs to step up for our three-wideout set before this weekend."
There's also competition at positions where there wasn't expected to be.
The general assumption has been that Blaine Irby is locked in as the starter at tight end, but 295-pound Greg Smith, who was moved to tight end from tackle during August camp, comes in listed as a co-starter. Irby is listed first, which generally means a player has an edge, but according to Brown, Smith has come on as of late and whether or not he is the starter will depend on the situation.
"Blaine Irby and Greg Smith are either-or at tight end," said Brown. "Greg Smith is a 295-pound guy that is really helping us in the running game and in short-yardage and goal line."
Fullback is a toss-up between senior used-to-be-walk-on Luke Tiemann, who was given a scholarship on Friday, and redshirt freshman bruiser Cody Johnson and Brown did mention that Johnson may play some at tailback as well.
Speaking of the running backs, Vondrell McGee and Chris Ogbonnaya are co-starters at tailback and they're trailed closely by Foswhitt Whittaker. Of course, regardless of their arrangement on the official depth chart, all three will get a great deal of playing time as Texas is expected to use a tailback by committee approach.
On the defensive line, senior Aaron Lewis shows up at multiple positions. Although not expected to step out with the ones on Saturday, Lewis is listed as a co-starter at both defensive tackle behind Lamarr Houston and power defensive end behind Henry Melton.
At LB, the expected outside linebackers are there with Sergio Kindle and Roddrick Muckelroy working at strong and weak, respectively, and junior Jared Norton is hanging tight with senior Rashad Bobino in the middle. Both Norton and Bobino are listed as co-starters at the position.
Of course, that's just beginning to describe the battles that are going on up and down the roster. The depth chart is only a representation of where the team is as of Monday and players will continue to work this week to secure their spot on the field. According to Brown, there's still a lot to figure out before the team straps on the pads and hits the field at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
"We're trying to make more decisions right now at this time of the year than we ever have," said Brown.
Kick-off is set for 6 p.m.
Official Depth Chart
|Flanker (Z)||8||Jordan Shipley|||||11||James Kirkendoll|
|Tight End (Y)||19||Blaine Irby||OR||83||Greg Smith|||||86||Peter Ullman|
|Right Tackle||64||Kyle Hix|||||72||Britt Mitchell|||||76||Aundre McGaskey|
|Right Guard||55||Cedric Dockery|||||63||Michael Huey|
|Center||71||Chris Hall|||||65||Buck Burnette|||||75||Steve Moore|
|Left Guard||52||Charlie Tanner|||||78||David Snow|
|Left Tackle||74||Adam Ulatoski|||||56||Tray Allen|
|Split End (X)||6||Quan Cosby|||||4||Dan Buckner|||||85||D.J. Grant|
|Fullback||31||Cody Johnson||OR||49||Luke Tiemann|
|Note: 99 Roy Miller and 44 Rashad Bobino will also play fullback in short yardage and goal-line situations.|
|Quarterback||12||Colt McCoy|||||7||John Chiles|||||17||Sherrod Harris|
|Sub-B||9||Malcolm Williams||OR||5||Brandon Collins|
|Place-Kicker||39||Ryan Bailey|||||15||Hunter Lawrence||OR||9||Justin Tucker|
|DE (Quick)||98||Brian Orakpo|||||81||Sam Acho|||||97||Russell Carter|
|Nose Tackle||99||Roy Miller|||||92||Ben Alexander||OR||94||Michael Wilcoxon|
|Tackle||36||Lamarr Houston||OR||95||Aaron Lewis|||||91||Kheeston Randall|
|DE (Power)||37||Henry Melton||OR||95||Aaron Lewis|||||32||Eddie Jones|
|Strongside LB||2||Sergio Kindle|||||1||Keenan Robinson|
|Middle LB||44||Rashad Bobino||OR||11||Jared Norton|||||42||Dustin Ernest|
|Weakside LB||38||Roddrick Muckelroy|||||18||Emmanuel Acho||OR||42||Dustin Ernest|
|Right CB||13||Ryan Palmer|||||3||Curtis Brown|||||4||Aaron Williams|
|Right Safety||12||Earl Thomas||OR||6||Christian Scott|
|Left Safety||21||Blake Gideon||OR||27||Nolan Brewster||OR||5||Ben Wells|
|Left CB||7||Deon Beasley||OR||8||Chykie Brown|||||4||Aaron Williams|
|Punter||17||Trevor Gerland||OR||9||Justin Tucker||OR||47||John Gold|
|Kickoffs||9||Justin Tucker||OR||15||Hunter Lawrence|
|Punt Returns||6||Quan Cosby|||||8||Jordan Shipley||OR||3||Curtis Brown|
|Holder||8||Jordan Shipley|||||17||Sherrod Harris|||||21||Blake Gideon|
|Deep Snapper (PAT/FG)||83||Greg Smith|||||72||Britt Mitchell|
|Deep Snapper (Punts)||58||William Harvey|||||48||Alex Zumberge|