"A lot of the new guys we got are older, experienced guys," Whittington said Tuesday. "They came in and there wasn't a lot of catching up to do. They know football, they're experienced in college football, and when they got here, they kind of hit the ground running."
With a new quarterback commanding the huddle — Hudson Card or Quinn Ewers — Texas will rely on its receiving corps. Sophomore Xavier Worthy cemented himself as the team's top target after breaking Roy Williams' freshman record a season ago.
Whittington has shown he's a reliable security blanket in the slot when healthy. Of course, injuries have hampered his production since 2019. A groin injury as a freshman was followed by a torn meniscus and hip flexor as a sophomore. Things were trending his way before a broken clavicle against Oklahoma shut him down for a third time.
But again, when on the field, Whittington can be special. In the 13 games he's been active, he's recorded 49 catches for 600 yards and an average of 12.2 yards per play.
As for the No. 3 receiver? Wyoming transfer Isaiah Neyor could be the best bet. Then again, don't rule out Alabama transfer Agiye Hall. Oh, and Iowa State transfer Tarique Milton would also like a word.
There are also the younger guns from the 2022 recruiting cycle such as Spearman's Brenen Thompson and Grand Prairie's Savion Red — a multi-talented wunderkind who Whittington thinks can be the next Deebo Samuel.
"[He's] a bigger guy who runs with the ball like a running back," Whittington said. "He reminds me of me. It’s like I have a twin out there.”
Thompson and Red could fill in if injuries were to occur, but Texas is banking on the vets added through the transfer portal first. Experience is key, and outside of Whittington and Worthy, Troy Omerire might be next in line due to his knowledge of coach Steve Sarkisian's offense.
He's yet to play a down since arriving in Austin due to season-ending injuries.
And for every pass-catcher entering DKR this season, one is departing for a new opportunity. Last season. Whittington and Worthy were joined by Marcus Washington Joshua Moore, Kelvontay Dixon and Kai Money. Washington followed Casey Thompson to Nebraska. Dixon and Moore transferred to SMU. Money retired.
So yes, the trio of talent with starting reps is expected to pick up the pace. So far, Whittington is pleased with their progress. So has Sarkisian, especially with Milton.
"Tarique is a very mature young man. You see why he had the role that he had at Iowa State," Sarkisian said. "He definitely has real speed. He’s got a really mature approach to the game. He's prepared. He's organized. He's got his life in order, and it shows on the field."
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Milton, who enters his senior season, might a name the Texas faithful remember. Last season in Ames, the 5-10 Florida native caught a 49-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brock Purdy in the third quarter to give the Cyclones a 10-point lead.
In 2018, Milton's 47-yard punt return eventually led to set up an Iowa State touchdown in UT's 24-10 win. He also have recorded at least two catches and over 20 yards in each outing against the Horns.
Will he be the team's new No. 3? Not if Neyor has anything to say. In his final season with the Cowboys, 6-3 receiver recorded a Mountain West-high 12 touchdowns to go along with 878 receiving yards. Since arriving in Austin, he's been the subject of several highlight grabs in practice.
Then, there's Hall. Currently, Hall is under the spotlight after being arrested Thursday for misdemeanor criminal mischief. He'll face a Class B misdemeanor charge for damages totaling between $100 to $750.
Hall wanted a fresh start after a fallout with Alabama's Nick Saban in the spring, eventually reuniting with Sarkisian and offensive line coach Kyle Flood. Sarkisian will now need to make the tough call of what to do moving forward.
Hall's future status with the program aside, Texas has talent at receiver. Most specifically, it has depth. Any injury suffered early in the season can be replaced with veterans that have potential.
By midseason, both Red and Thompson could also be in the fold. And sure, everything needs to click on the field, but the Longhorns have options for both Card and Ewers.
Whittington can see it. Soon, fans will as well.
You can follow Cole Thompson on Twitter at @MrColeThompson
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