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Opening practice report: Part III

Jordan Hicks continued where he left off from the bowl game and bowl practice.

Jordan Hicks had the look of an elite linebacker in Texas' first spring practice of the year.

"Bobby, holy (expletive deleted)!," a source told me. "He looks great. He's bouncing around out there like nobody's business. He looks stronger, he's playing with purpose, he's quick. I don't know what else to say about the guy."

Hicks, Demarco Cobbs and Steve Edmond started the day in the 4-3 set.

Hicks then moved inside during 7-on-7s when the Horns added a nickel back in the secondary.

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Steve Edmond looks a little more fit physically, and he made a terrific pass break-up.

"He made a play on ball about 10- to 12-yards in the seam," a source said. "That's a play he doesn't get to last year."

But Edmond didn't receive perfect marks per se.

"I think he's a guy who is extremely talented and he has to keep getting it out of himself," the source said. "It's like there's more in there for him. You see flashes of it, but you don't always see it."

Malcom Brown (right) and Joe Bergeron (left) looked ready to go after injuries slowed them both at the end of the 2011 season.

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As for the running backs, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron saw the most action, and the Horns even had them both playing simultaneously in what the Texas coaches call the "pod" formation, where the quarterback is in the pistol, with a running back behind him and another flanked on both sides of the QB.

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The source, however, said he was most pleased to see something else from the two young running backs.

"They were both out on the field early," a source said. "They were ready to go. I don't think either of them liked how last season finished and they were out there, they were prepared and ready."

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On the hoof, there's a big difference between Bergeron and Brown.

"Joe just passes the eyeball test better than Malcolm," a source said. "He looks bigger and faster."

Early enrollee Duke Thomas continued to impress teammates and coaches with his play in the team's first practice.

But Brown himself has improved his conditioning and physique.

"You can see how his body is starting to morph a little," the source said of Brown. "A little of that paunch is starting to become more defined muscle mass across his entire body. He's growing up right in front of our eyes."

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Josh Turner will get a look at safety this spring, but yesterday, he only played corner, where he backed up Carrington Byndom.

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We've mentioned several times this off-season just how impressive cornerback Duke Thomas, the mid-year freshman enrollee, has been to his teammates during off-season workouts. Well, that carried over to practice yesterday.

"There was a play where Jaxon beat him off the line and had him by about two steps," a source said. "But what he did was he closed extremely fast and they couldn't get the ball in there. He got beat off the line because he lacks technique right now, but everyone's raving about him."

"I can see him being a three-year starter, all-conference type of guy. He just has that athleticism, that speed and he gets right in there with it at practice. His technique is off, but everything else looked like he belongs with the big boys."

With only his senior year remaining, defensive end Alex Okafor is playing like a man on a mission to be a high draft pick next April.

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Who is the better corner between Quandre Diggs and Carrington Byndom?

"Diggs is more natural (and) Byndom's more developed," the source said. "Quandre's always going to fight that he's a little smaller, but he is a natural."

"I think they both play in the league if they keep grinding."

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Speaking of grinding, I'm told the secondary, as a whole, is taking on a leadership role on the team.

They are working as hard or harder than any group on campus, whether it was practice yesterday or County Fair workouts, and the group has developed a rare kinship.

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And for the very last note from practice No. 1, I asked who was the most impressive player overall?

Two people I spoke with said the same player.

Alex Okafor.

"He lined up all over the place," one source said. "He dropped into coverage, he played DT (defensive tackle), he was in a two-point stance."

"He's playing like a hungry man, like a next level (NFL) guy. He knows that that big payday is around the corner and he wants to be a top-ten pick. He's playing extremely hard."

While it was just shirts and shorts on Thursday, Okafor still made multiple plays.

"He gave the OL fits," the source said of Okafor's first practice this spring. "They have a hard time with him because he uses leverage and size so well. I'm telling you, he's playing like he's trying to be great."

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The Longhorns' next practice is Saturday. Texas will also be hosting its second junior day of this recruiting cycle. Several recruits will be attending practice.

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- Opening practice report: Part I

- Opening practice report: Part II

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