Lambert will be significantly changed team next year, especially on offense. Quarterback Richie Kenney is headed to play in college at Cornell, leading receiver Tyler Gillis is transferring to Buford and the Longhorns have a new offensive coordinator in Justin Bacile, who was previously on Milton’s staff.
But that’s not a significant stressor for head coach Louis Daniel, or even his main focus.
“I don’t worry too much about the starters, returning guys,” Daniel said. “I want to keep them healthy. I want to see who’s going to step in.”
The Longhorns have a solid idea of what next season’s offseason is going to look like, even with a few important names gone. Bobby Gabriel is set to move over from receiver to quarterback after placing second on the team in receptions in 2016, giving Lambert more mobility at that spot but also solid touch throwing the ball.
“Bobby throws the ball down the field really well, too, but (he’s) also pretty good at the intermediate routes, getting the ball on the perimeter,” Daniel said. “So I wouldn’t say we’re going to be more of a running team – I would say our passing attack’s going to be a little different.”
The Longhorns’ rushing attack will have multiple productive returners, in rising seniors Marcus Chatelain, who scored four touchdowns in 2016, and Justin Bruno, who averaged 80.7 yards per game last year and has received multiple FBS offers during the offseason. The defense loses multiple senior contributors but brings back Chatelain at safety and Kenneth Dicks III at cornerback. The latter has seen his recruiting stock soar after a strong performance at The Opening in Charlotte in early May.
“Some of the older guys are taking young guys under their wing and talking to them, working with them,” Daniel said. “I know Chatelain and Dicks spent time the past couple days helping coach (Josh) Pritchett and coach (Brian) Daughtery with the secondary kids, kind of coaching them up, passing on some of their knowledge.”
Lambert took advantage of the new opportunity to play a spring scrimmage against another school, facing North Springs on Friday. And while the games’ early minutes, when the first-stringers are still in, will most resemble the Longhorns’ makeup in the fall, that isn’t what Daniel, speaking after practice on Wednesday, said he was most looking forward to.
“I can't wait until we get into the meat of the game and I get to see these young kids here,” Daniel said. “They might have been freshmen last year, or JV players, and they didn’t get to play in the 7 o’clock, 8 o’clock game under the lights on Friday. I can’t wait to get those kids out there, let them get a taste.”