With spring football in our presence, there are already players standing out and making some noise for Texas.
247Sports’ Chip Brown (exclusive content) broke down some of the biggest happenings when it comes to Texas football ahead of spring, such as who has stepped up as leaders, players standing out, and how position changes are going.
The Longhorns need major improvements at practically every position, and while they did bring in the No. 5 recruiting class, Steve Sarkisian would likely prefer for some veterans to step up so he is not forced to play a lot of inexperienced guys right away.
While the spring does allow for young players like Justice Finkley or Terrance Brooks to stand out and get an advantage over their classmates that didn’t enroll early, it also allows for veterans to use the fact they are in the system for a second consecutive year to their advantage as well.
Position battles may not be won in spring, but they do begin in the spring. What this means is that if someone has a strong spring, they will likely have an edge over the competition.
With spring ball scheduled to begin next week, here are some of the headlines around the team that stand out the most.
Leadership, or lack thereof, seemed to be a major issue for Texas in 2021. It was a common theme throughout the season that the team lacked a Sam Ehlinger type of vocal leader. There were more lead by example guys, or players in prominent positions to lead, but just did not have the right attitude in the locker room. Here is what 247Sports’ Brown said about who has reportedly stepped up as a leader:
When you ask team sources about the players doing the best job of leading heading into spring football, which begins Tuesday, two names always come up – Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson.
“Those two only know how to do things one way – all out,” a team source said of Robinson and Johnson.
The other names that come up on offense are Jordan Whittington, Xavier Worthy and Jake Majors.
Linebackers that are standing out
The linebacker group is basically the same as last year, as the Longhorns were unable to add a transfer with experience, and only added one from the high school ranks in three-star Trevell Johnson. With Luke Brockermeyer recovering from knee surgery, it gives someone like Jaylan Ford a chance to have a strong spring to cement himself in a more prominent role. Here is what Brown said about the reserve linebackers that are doing well:
Team sources said they’re hoping the increased confidence being displayed by linebackers Jaylan Ford, David Gbenda and Devin Richardson will translate into big springs for those players.
With Luke Brockermeyer out while recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL, this spring is a massive opportunity for Ford at middle linebacker.
Transfers are standing out
Getting talent out of the transfer portal was a major must for Texas, as there were certainly holes in 2021 that needed an immediate fix. The Longhorns did quite well in terms of adding high level transfers, and Brown is expecting a few of them to have big impact right away:
… I’m hearing enough good things about 6-foot-3 Ohio State transfer cornerback Ryan Watts and early enrollee freshman cornerback Terrance Brooks that I’ve added them to my list of immediate impact newcomers for 2022 – along with Wyoming transfer receiver Isaiah Neyor .
Anthony Cook’s move to safety
The Longhorns badly needed to add someone from the transfer portal at the safety position, but swung and missed a couple times. They lost both of their starters in Brenden Schooler (graduation) and BJ Foster (transfer), and while neither were great by any means they were experienced. This has led to a few players like Kitan Crawford, Anthony Cook, and Morice Blackwell making the move to the safety position. Cook’s success at the position is expected by Brown and others to be the most vital in order for the defense as a whole to thrive. Here is what he said:
One team source said Anthony Cook’s transition to safety will be one of the most important storylines of the spring. The coaching staff is hoping Cook’s football IQ will help him be able to process pre-snap information quickly and relay calls to the secondary.
“(BJ) Foster was good if you had a specific call for him, but when he had to diagnose things on his own and then change a call, it was hit and miss,” one team source said. “And Schooler was moved to safety from receiver before last season, so he just didn’t have the reps you need to build up over time.”