Ryan Bujcevski

Longhorn fans can’t say Texas isn’t making efforts to rejuvenate the burnt orange brand. It’s too early to determine whether the efforts will pay off, but as inflatable obstacle courses resided on the sideline of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and a firework show concluded the game, it was clear that the 2018 Orange-White spring game was just Texas’ latest attempt to bring Texas fans back to DKR.

“First thing, obviously, I need to thank our fans,” Texas head coach Tom Herman said afterward. “What a great job, especially with the threat of inclement weather, of them showing out as well as they did, as enthusiastic as they were, as energetic as they were.”

And the fans didn’t appear to leave early, either. After Texas’ White squad took down the Orange squad, 23-13, Longhorn fans flooded the field for the postgame autograph session in addition to the fireworks show.

“I really felt them tonight as opposed to last year,” Herman said. “Thanks to Chris Del Conte and his staff for a really wonderful pre-game atmosphere to allow the fans on the field. I think we're slowly but surely getting to the point where I think we're going to see the stands packed the way that we all hoped that they do.”

Here’s what we saw after the fans found their seats and the Longhorns took the field:

Johnson, Humphrey electrify the night

With the quarterback battle at the forefront all spring, two wide receivers on opposing teams seemingly stole the show. Junior Collin Johnson and sophomore Lil’Jordan Humphrey went back and forth all night. Johnson finished with one touchdown and 91 yards on six receptions for the orange team.

But Humphrey had a night as well, with 100 yards receiving on seven receptions, even finding the end zone twice on the ground.

Johnson and Humphrey flashed glimpses of superstar potential last season, but neither player could make the leap. If both wide receivers can make plays in the fall, look for the entire unit to benefit from more one-on-one looks.

“I definitely think this offseason and spring we’ve been a lot more productive,” Johnson said. “People have been a lot more bought in. You know how the first year is, a lot of times people don't really understand how to do things exactly.

The Punter’s cousin

As both teams headed into their locker rooms for halftime, former punter Michael Dickson walked onto the field with his Ray Guy Award for punter of the year in hand. Fans rose to their feet in appreciation for the star-studded Australian. But Texas had an answer for the fans who are still missing Dickson, none other than freshman punter Ryan Bujcevski –– Dickson’s cousin.

Bujcevski jogged onto the field for his Longhorn debut early in the first quarter. His first punt looked all too familiar. A 59-yard boot was enough to impress the Texas faithful as Dickson watched on from the sideline. But that’s as good as Bujcevski’s night would get. Punts of 30 and 40 yards forced Longhorn fans to pump the brakes.

Running game (?)

Texas’ leading rushers, for both teams, were both quarterbacks in Sam Ehlinger and Cameron Rising. One non-quarterback found the endzone twice, but he wasn’t a running back either.

Most teams don’t show much when it comes to televised spring games. Herman said they opted to run a lot of inside zone and power when close to the endzone. But it was Humphrey who pushed the ball across the goal line. This brought a lot of questions regarding Texas’ running back unit.

“We were in 11 personnel the entire game, ran inside zone and power,” Herman said.  “So, when you get compressed down there, you don't have any specific goal line plays because you don't want to show them. We still need improvement. But how do I feel? I feel a lot better than I did this time last year, and a lot better than I did in December.”

Texas now looks forward to summer camp where Herman will continue his search for a starting quarterback and go-to running back. Until then, let the countdown to the season opener against Maryland on Sept. 1 begin.

Photo Credit: Gabby Lanza | Daily Texan Staff

Junior punter and Ray Guy Award winner Michael Dickson announced on Thursday that he will forgo his senior season and declare for the NFL Draft.

“Coming to play football for the University of Texas has been the greatest experience of my life,” Dickson said in a statement. “I am so thankful for Coach Strong giving me an opportunity back in 2015. Texas has helped lead me in the direction I want to be as a person. I have built an undeniable bond with my teammates that will last forever. I truly consider all of you my brothers.”

Dickson is the fourth Longhorn to have declared for the draft since the end of the regular season, joining junior left tackle Connor Williams, junior cornerback Holton Hill and junior safety DeShon Elliott. But unlike those three players, Dickson will still play in the Texas Bowl against Missouri on Dec. 27.

Dickson’s junior campaign was one for the books. It culminated in him becoming a unanimous first team All-American and winning the Ray Guy Award earlier this month, given to the nation’s best punter.

The Australian native led the nation in punt average at 48.4 yards per attempt. Dickson also had 34 punts of at least 50 yards and 14 punts of at least 60 yards.

He pounded a career-long 76-yarder against TCU on Nov. 4, which was the fifth-longest punt in the nation this year.

“The Texas fans have showed me so much more love than I ever expected,” Dickson said. “To be able to see and hear the appreciation from the fans each week is something that I genuinely cherish. I’m so grateful for what this country has provided me and feel as though Texas has adopted me as one of their own. I’m proud to be a Texan.

“I am excited for the opportunities that lie ahead and know that I will forever be a Texas Longhorn. I’d like to thank Coach Herman and the current staff for a great year. Thanks for understanding and supporting me throughout my decision-making process.”

The loss of Dickson next season is a big blow for the Longhorns, but Texas has already found his replacement.

Dickson’s cousin, Ryan Bujcevski, who also hails from Australia and the same training academy as Dickson, signed with Texas on Wednesday during the early signing period and plans to enroll early.

Herman said on Wednesday he has a long relationship with Prokick Australia, the punting and kicking academy that Dickson and Bujcevski trained at.

“When those guys (at Prokick) say this guy is the next whatever, you believe them because they’re that good that their job,” Herman said.