Todd Orlando wasn't sure about this new defensive lineman. Sure, he had the size – 6-foot-4, 320 pounds. A mountainous teenager.
But size shouldn't be conflated with talent, especially when it comes to a true freshman summer enrollee. What the Longhorns' defensive coordinator wanted to find out was whether Huntsville's T'Vondre Sweat could play, really play, this season.
"It was like, OK, young guy comes in here," Orlando said. "Let's see how he does. Anybody can be really good in the first week of fall camp."
Sweat "popped" earlier for third-year coach Tom Herman. Just as important, the freshman's peers approved.
Senior defensive end Malcolm Roach and junior end Ta'Quon Graham both sang Sweat's praises throughout fall camp. That further cemented Herman's hunch.
"Herm was on that really quick," Orlando said. "He was like, 'Hey, we need to see this guy a lot more.'
"And as we got him in more and more, he's really, really performed well. You're going to see a lot of him on Saturday."
Sweat is currently listed as Graham's backup on the depth chart for Saturday's season opener against Louisiana Tech at Royal-Memorial Stadium. If the game turns into a rout Sweat could find himself earning some serious reps down the stretch as tenth-ranked Texas tries to stay healthy for next week's clash with sixth-ranked LSU.
"I like what I'm seeing out of T-Sweat," Roach said. "He's a big guy. He reminds me of (former Longhorn lineman) Jordan Elliott, just how big he is and the way he can move. To see him moving around like that is very surprising. He's going to be a guy who can see some downs this year."