SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

December 6, 2012

Column: College football needs to tackle its problems

My alma mater’s football team did not fare well on Thanksgiving Day. Ranked 18th in the nation, the University of Texas Longhorns suffered an embarrassing home field defeat by unranked longtime rival Texas Christian University.

The loss probably dampened the day for the team’s nine scholarship seniors, who were playing their last game as Longhorns before a hometown crowd. They were honored before the game for having completed four years of football at UT.

The Austin American-Statesman reports, “Through attrition, Texas’ senior class has shrunk drastically over the years for a variety of reasons.” Longhorn safety Kenny Vaccaro says, “A lot of guys didn’t last.” He calls himself and the eight other seniors “the proud few.”

Four years ago, the 2009 Longhorns football roster carried 121 players; 45 were freshmen, including eight of the nine remaining seniors who were honored on Thanksgiving.

What happened to the other 37?

Seven were red-shirted in 2009 and are still listed on the 2012 roster as juniors.

Others fared well enough. Much-heralded high school quarterback Garrett Gilbert was a backup in 2009, but his game fell apart in the Bowl Championship Series. Under his leadership in 2010, the Longhorns were a dismal 5-7. He left the program, but landed on his feet as the starting quarterback this year for Southern Methodist University.

Jamison Berryhill was a freshman walk-on in 2009, but he earned a scholarship and eventually signed a free-agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens released him in July.

Others haven’t played much. Trey Graham missed the 2010 and 2011 seasons due to a knee injury, and Eryon Barnett missed 2011 with the same problem. He left the program, as well.

Chris Howell played a lot, but he was dismissed from the football program last February when he was charged with possession of a controlled substance.

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