With so much going on in other college sports, it’s easy to forget that spring workouts are starting to ramp up across the country. The Big 12 is no exception there, with multiple teams having already started practices.
As those teams commence their NCAA-sanctioned workouts, each Big 12 squad will try to find answers to its respective questions over the course of about a month.
Here, we’ll try to look into what positions will be up for grabs. Up next are the Texas Longhorns, who begin practices today.
By all indication, Texas is on a return to prominence after a 2018 season that ended with a Sugar Bowl win over a Top Five team. Last season, Texas achieved the same type of success they’d had during the 2000s when the program was really rolling.
Can they sustain that level of performance consistently? The 2019 season will tell us whether ten win seasons are once again the norm in Austin.
Doing that might be easier said than done this year, where head coach Tom Herman will have to deal with some significant attrition from the 2018 squad.
PRACTICE BEGINS: MON, March 11
SPRING GAME: SAT, April 13
LOCATION: Darrell K. Royal Memoral Stadium (Austin, TX)
After having struggles on the offensive side of the ball for years, Texas has a few things solidified headed into 2019. The Longhorns will still have some starters to replace, however.
A major piece of the puzzle on offense – quarterback – is well settled for the Longhorns. Sam Ehlinger will be a junior, but he’s already getting outside odds to win the Heisman as the signal caller for Texas.
The picture at running back is a little less clear, as Texas loses a starter there. Sophomore Keontay Ingram was a co-starter last year, so expect him to possibly step into a full time role.
The Longhorns also have to find some replacements along the offensive line. Zach Shackelford and Samuel Cosmi will hold down center and tackle, respectively, as returning starters. Most of the likely candidates to start beside them are upperclassmen, which is certainly a net positive.
Seniors Devin Duvernay and Collin Johnson return as starters on the outside at wide receiver, but the slot receiver position is a bit of a mystery. How the Texas offensive staff decides to find a replacement there will be intriguing. There are talented players who could takeover a starting position at tight end as well, and that will be another gap that the Longhorns look to fill.
The tallest task for Herman will be rebuilding the defense. A majority of last season’s senior starters are now gone, and the Longhorns find themselves with eight starting roles to fill on the depth chart.
At the “B” linebacker spot, Jeffrey McCulloch is back. He had 33 tackles in 2018, and one returner in the front six. It will likely fall to him to get everyone else across the board ready to play.
On the back end, Caden Sterns – the Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year last season – and senior Brandon Jones return at the safety. With defensive talent in the secondary, it will be interesting to see who emerges to grab starting spots in the defensive backfield.
And indeed, Texas has talent, especially after Herman brought in back-to-back Top Three recruiting classes. How fast can all of that potential translate into on the field results, though? Ultimately, we won’t know those answers for sure until the fall season comes. For now, we’ll see what kind of names emerge to be the new faces of Texas football in 2019.