Three weeks ago, Charlie Strong stood behind a mic and told the burnt orange faithful in Fort Worth that their team would not be winning a national championship this winter. Turns out the NFL agrees with him. Two-hundred fifty-six votes were tallied over the last three days and not one of them approved of the NFL talent in Austin.
For the first time since 1937, Texas did not have a player selected in the NFL Draft. Perhaps you've heard something about this. ESPN found it newsworthy enough to place it as an item on the BottomLine crawl throughout Saturday night. The longest running streak of drafted players now belongs solely to Notre Dame.
To be clear, just because Texas didn't have any draft-worthy talent does not mean the Longhorns were bereft of college football talent. The two can often be diametrically opposed to each other, which is how someone like Johnny Manziel drops to pick 22.
Hendricks Award voters thought enough of former Longhorn Jackson Jeffcoat to name him the top defensive end in college football, and his 22 tackles for loss and 13 sacks earned him consensus First Team All-America honors. However, multiple surgeries cost him valuable weight room time he very much needed. Chris Whaley, the running back-turned-defensive tackle you may know from this play against Oklahoma, possessed draftable measurables but a late-season ACL tear left him on the outside looking in. Jeffcoat and Whaley, along with defensive back Carrington Byndom, wide receiver Mike Davis and offensive linemen Trey Hopkins and Donald Hawkins, all signed free agent contracts following the draft. Each had his moments in college. All will share in the uphill charge every undrafted rookie faces in hopes of making a roster.
Still, though, no statistic epitomizes the need for fresh blood more than the end of a three-quarter century long draft streak.
Every cloud has a silver lining, and this one has three of them.
1) The team Strong inherits isn't devoid of talent. This is the same bunch that punished an Oklahoma team that closed the year with wins over Oklahoma State and Alabama, and limited Baylor and Oregon to just four combined offensive touchdowns. Many of the team's best players, players that will certainly hear their name called at future drafts, either chose to stick around or are not yet eligible.
2) It's not like Strong himself didn't have his own draft success over the weekend. Three first round picks, and each of them is a testament to his staff's development. A pocket quarterback without a rocket arm that gets by on intelligence. A quarterback converted into a defensive end. And a safety known more for his physical, heady play than his finish at the underwear olympics.
3) This weekend's results provides a new beginning from which the team can move forward from together. A new beginning has arrived.