August 6, 2009

Countdown to kickoff: No.20 Vondrell McGee

Name: Vondrell McGee

Position: Running back

Classification: Junior

Prep credentials: The former Longview star was a four-star prospect (6.0) and was ranked as the nation's No.3 all-purpose back/No.57 overall player by Rivals. McGee was ranked as the state's No.6 overall prospect by Lone Star Recruiting and the No.7 player in the state by Rivals.

Click here to see McGee's high school film

2008 stats: McGee played in 12 games (three starts) and rushed for 376 yards and four touchdowns on 88 carries (4.3 yards per carry). He also caught nine passes for 49 yards (5.4 yards per catch).

2008 Honors: None

Click here to see McGee's 2008 highlight film via UT's official website

Career stats: McGee has rushed for 673 yards and 12 touchdowns on 163 carries (4.1 yards per carry), while also catching nine passes for 49 yards.

Best game in 2008: For only the third time all season, McGee reached double digits in rushing attempts (10) and he finished with 55 yards (5.5 yards per carry). Those numbers included an 18-yard run, which ranked as his second longest of the season.

Scouting Report: McGee is a tough guy to get your hands around because he arrived at Texas with such sterling credentials, but he seems to have been a square peg in a round role for much of his career in Austin. McGee is at his best when he's able to stay between the hash marks and run tackle-to-tackle. He's a tough inside runner that can make quick decisions and quick, hard cuts when he gets his shoulders squared. Although he hasn't had a chance to really pound the belly of a college defense, he's one of the best finishers after contact that the Longhorns have and he is constantly fighting to finish his runs with an extra yard or two. At 5-10, 205 pounds, McGee can be a tough guy to pull down once he gets through the first level of the defense, but getting to the second level has been one of the key issues for him through two seasons of play.

Part of McGee's problem is that he's not a perfect fit for the zone-reads and stretch plays that are featured so much in the Texas offense. McGee's a North/South runner and when he's taking everything to the outside, he becomes a limited player because he hasn't shown that he has the speed or burst once he gets to the corner to create the kind of explosive plays that the offense needs. He's much better suited for a pro-style/two-back offense that will allow him to run between the tackles and use the entire field, as opposed to running plays that constantly ask him to run to the boundaries. If the Longhorns plan to run out of the I-formation or use more two-back sets this season, McGee could be a player that benefits greatly from it.

One area where he really needs to improve is pass protection. Although he has limitations as a receiver and he's certainly not the most gifted pass-catcher among the stable of running backs at Texas' disposal, his ability to pass protect has been a bigger hindrance for him when it comes to playing time. Until that area of play improves, the staff has a real problem when it comes to personnel packages that include McGee because at this point they represent a huge indicator to the defense that they are about to see a running play.

Overall, McGee has the talent and ability to be a starter for a top ten football program, but he has to polish the nuances of his game because the Texas staff demands so much more of their running backs than just having the ability to run the ball.

The big hope… McGee starts to do all of the little things right in his fourth year in Austin and hits his stride as the Longhorns begin to feature him on more plays that cater towards his true strengths.

The big worry… His lack of explosive plays has more to do with his lack if burst and explosiveness than it does with the Texas scheme.

Did you know? McGee's nickname is "Bulldozer".

NFL Scouting report:"I really have mixed thoughts on him. There are times when I've seen him and loved his vision and ability to run through tacklers, but there are times when he looks like he's thinking too much - in the middle of the play. He's waiting for the big play to open up for him instead of trusting the scheme and his blockers. He's like a race car driver that has problems trusting his spotters when there's an accident. You just have to turn the brain off at times and get your ass up the field, and he'll be surprised by the results."

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