When coach Charlie Strong said he wanted to put the “T” back in Texas that “T” stood for different things, but to senior cornerback Quandre Diggs that “T” meant toughness.
Not the toughness that is inherently involved with playing football, but the toughness that comes with overcoming some of the struggles Texas has recently experienced.
Diggs told reporters during Big 12 media day on Tuesday that he felt like many of his Texas teammates had been coddled and that they didn’t have the commitment that they needed to make Texas successful.
"I told Coach Strong that I just feel like we had guys on the team that just didn't love football the way they should. That's something that I've always sensed since I've been here: We had guys that just didn't love football," Diggs said. "If you don't love football, you don't need to be a part of this university or a part of this team. That's just something I feel greatly and strong about.
"I'm one of those guys where, you don't need to give me a pep talk to go out and play the game I love. I want to go out there, I want to be tough, I want to be physical with guys. I think when I'm healthy I'm one of the best players in the country, no doubt about it. I have a voice on this team and it means a lot and I say what I want to say around these guys. Those guys look up to me. Guys that don't respect it, I really don't care."
Strong made similar statements on Tuesday saying his team needed to get stronger mentally, but it’s another thing to hear it from a player who's been a three-year starter and seen the change in attitude firsthand.
And Diggs had no qualms about Strong’s tough approach, which included not allowing the players to step on the Longhorn symbol in the middle of the locker room until they earn it. In fact, he had little sympathy for players who couldn’t get on board with this tougher approach.
"I want to weed guys out. That's just me," Diggs said. "I'm an up-front person. All my teammates know me. I'm going to tell you how I feel. I'm not going to jab at anything. I'm going to take an uppercut, take the hardest swing I can take, and I'll try to knock you out.
"I don't sugarcoat anything just like [Strong's coaches] don't sugarcoat anything. That's just how I am, how I was born, how I was raised. I love the way they're taking the approach of getting guys out of here that don't belong."
Diggs’ words aren’t new to teammates. He said he’s gotten into more than a few confrontations with fellow Longhorns about their work ethic and that’s he’s not afraid to call someone out if they're not living up to their potential or putting in the work they need to put in to be part of the team.
"There's 125 alpha males in there and everybody wants to be the man," Diggs said. "If you don't think you're the man, you're weak-minded. That's just the way it is, you're going to have conflict. Heck, I get into conflict every week. I talk a lot of trash. I try to say whatever I can just to get under somebody's skin and make those guys push us even harder."
Diggs said he didn’t want his words to be a shot at former coach Mack Brown or his assistants but rather an endorsement for Strong, who has taken a unique approach to a team that has been used to being told it’s one of the best in the country.
And Diggs knows that the program has been headed in the wrong direction for quite some time. As the younger brother of NFL defensive back Quentin Jammer, a former Longhorn, Diggs has been around the program since he was 5 years old and he’d like to see it return to its former glory.
"I feel like the most humbling place you can be is on the bench," he said. "You ought to humble yourself if you're on the bench. You shouldn't get no recognition if you're not playing. You should swing the towel and accept it and be happy they're paying for your school. If you came to the University of Texas, you should be a great football player that wants to go out and compete each and every week. That's how I look at it.
"Heck, if it was up to me and Coach Strong asked me, I'd help him weed guys out."
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