3 Texas players with most to prove in second half of spring

Who can make last-minute pushes to get spots on the two-deep for Texas football this spring?
Jelani McDonald, Texas football
Jelani McDonald, Texas football / Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman
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Tre Wisner, Jelani McDonald, Texas football
Tre Wisner, Jelani McDonald, Texas football / Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman

Jelani McDonald, S

Second-year uber-athletic safety Jelani McDonald has the potential to be a breakout player for the Longhorns this fall. McDonald could be the best athlete Texas has in the defensive backfield this spring, which says a lot given the special physical traits that guys like true freshman Xavier Filsaime and sophomore Derek Williams Jr. bring to the table.

McDonald can be weaponized as one of the versatile chess pieces in Pete Kwiatkowski's defense, with the ability to slide down to the box as a rangy linebacker-type or play back in coverage at safety.

Now in his second year of his collegiate career, McDonald is starting to really get it with his multi-faceted role in PK's defensive scheme. McDonald is well on the path to solidifying himself as one of the top four safeties in the rotation for the two-deep this spring.

Horns247 reported that McDonald is getting second-team reps at safety in spring practice for the last few weeks. He's part of a top four group that includes senior Andrew Mukuba, Williams, and redshirt junior Michael Taaffe.

For his recent efforts in spring drills and the first spring scrimmage for the Longhorns last weekend, McDonald was specifically mentioned by Sarkisian among the defensive standouts from the last couple of weeks.

"Jelani McDonald has made really some tremendous strides at safety, he's very rangy, physical and a good tackler and I think the instincts you know, thinking about him in high school playing quarterback, the majority of that football IQ has translated over to the defensive side of the ball."

If McDonald continues making instinctual plays and showing up consistently in team drills and in simulated live-game action (including the spring game) this spring, he could cement a spot in the safety rotation this fall.

All in all, it really feels like the Longhorns have the quality depth required to effectively rotate and keep guys fresh at the safety position this upcoming season. Texas tried to rotate at safety last year, but the DBs were too inconsistent and lacked the chemistry to be a cohesive unit in the secondary.

Led by Williams, Mukuba, Taaffe, and McDonald, Texas's safety room has inspired more confidence from those in and around the program in this position group this spring camp.

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