Texas Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger (11) pumps up his team during pre-geme as they prepare for Utah Utes during an NCAA college football game at the Valero Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome on Tuesday, December 31, 2019 in San Antonio, Texas. [RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Football

Breaking down the Texas roster: A closer look at Longhorns players, position groups for 2020

Posted September 4th, 2020

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While Texas fans may not know who’s going to break out this season, they do at least have an idea who’s on the team, courtesy of the online rosters. Here’s our look at the Longhorns’ roster with thoughts on players and what fans can expect from them this season.

 

Offense

Quarterbacks

This room has a solid three-year starter and a slew of talented backups. Coach Tom Herman has focused on building up the depth, and it shows. All will be working with new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich, who has a solid track record of productive offensive units.

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Sam Ehlinger, Sr., 6-3, 225: Westlake product has 8,870 career yards, 68 TDs, 22 INTs

Casey Thompson, So., 6-1, 197: Herman said he’s “more game ready” than the others.

Hudson Card, Fr., 6-2, 193: Dazzling QB threw for 2,288 yards as a Lake Travis senior.

Ja’Quinden Jackson, Fr., 6-2, 232: Still rehabbing from ACL injury during HS playoffs.

Texas’ Roschon Johnson signed with the Longhorns out of high school as an elusive, dual-threat quarterback in 2019 but was moved to running back last August after a slew of preseason injuries to that position. He responded with a solid freshman year. (Nick Wagner/American-Statesman)

Running backs

If this group can stay healthy all season, the top three should all be productive contributors. Keaontay Ingram battled through some injuries last year, and Roschon Johnson was the quarterback-turned-running back. Bijan Robinson is the all-world, five-star recruit from Tucson, Ariz.

Keaontay Ingram, Jr., 6-0, 222: People sleep on him, but his career average is 5.5 ypc.

Roschon Johnson, So., 6-2, 227: His open-field hurdling abilities showed he’s a gamer.

Bijan Robinson, Fr., 6-0, 222: Herman will only play top freshmen if the protect the ball.

Daniel Young, Sr., 6-0, 215: Opting out of the season because of the pandemic.

Derrian Brown, Fr., 5-10, 180: Redshirted while recovering from 2019 brain surgery.

Texas wide receiver Brennan Eagles was a big play waiting to happen last season, but was overshadowed on the 2019 depth chart by Devin Duvernay and Collin Johnson, both of whom finished their UT careers ranked in the top 10 of the Longhorns’ all-time receiving lists. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman)

Receivers

For all the fans worried about replacing Devin Duvernay, consider that nobody was really talking about him last August. He switched positions and then had a breakout season. This year’s group needs someone to do the same. Who here has that Lil’Jordan Humphrey or Duvernay breakout potential?

Tarik Black, Sr., 6-3, 217: Grad transfer constantly battled foot problems at Michigan.

Brennan Eagles, Jr., 6-4, 229: Has incredible breakaway speed on “go” routes.

Al’Vonte Woodard, So., 6-2, 214: Had only 3 catches in 8 games last season.

Marcus Washington, So., 6-2, 191: Played 11 games last year, but is still an unknown.

Joshua Moore, So., 6-1, 169: He’s back after being suspended for the 2019 season.

Jordan Whittington, Fr., 6-1, 209: Lingering HS injury slowed, then halted, his first year.

Jake Smith, So., 6-0, 200: Had a big September, then faded into the 2019 background.

Kennedy Lewis, Fr., 6-3, 192: Played in 2 games in 2019, with a 37-yard catch vs. Rice.

Kelvontay Dixon, Fr., 6-0, 180: Had 74 grabs for 1,240 yards his last year at Carthage.

Troy Omeire, Fr., 6-3, 230: Flashed early at camp, but suffered a torn ACL in August.

Dajon Harrison, Fr., 5-10, 170: Hutto athlete has decided to opt out of the season.

Texas tight end Cade Brewer, out of Lake Travis, made an instant splash as a freshman in 2017 with a touchdown catch in the overtime thriller at USC. He’ll finish up his Longhorns career this season. (Nick Wagner/American-Statesman)

Tight ends

One of the most important positions in Herman’s offense and possibly one of the most misunderstood. The tight ends played a huge role in 2017 and 2018, Herman’s first two seasons. But injuries neutered this group last year. For quarterbacks, nothing beats a solid over-the-middle security blanket.

Cade Brewer, Sr., 6-4, 252: Burst onto the scene in 2017 at USC. Can he finish strong?

Jared Wiley, So., 6-7, 254: Arguably one of the most versatile athletes on the roster.

Malcolm Epps, So., 6-6, 244: Massive-bodied TE had 20 catches for 232 yards in ’19.

Brayden Liebrock, Fr., 6-4, 234: Won 3 straight state titles in HS, now waiting his turn.

Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger looks for an open receiver while picking up a block from left tackle Samuel Cosmi during last year’s Baylor game in Waco. Cosmi could be an attractive 2021 NFL draft prospect if he chooses to leave Texas early. (Nick Wagner/American-Statesman)

Offensive tackles

Offensive line coach Herb Hand’s biggest offseason obstacle was to figure out why his unit struggled at times in 2019. Texas allowed 36 sacks, the second most in the Big 12. He’s got a potential first-round draft pick in left tackle Sam Cosmi, but it’s unclear how the right side will hold up.

Samuel Cosmi, Jr., 6-7, 309: LT has 26 career starts — but can catch TD passes, too.

Denzel Okafor, Sr., 6-4, 317: Starting RT is a fifth-year guy who almost transferred out.

Christian Jones, So., 6-6, 310: Under-the-radar OL will get extensive time at tackle.

Reese Moore, So., 6-7, 304: Hasn’t played in two years, but has an intriguing frame.

Tyler Johnson, Fr., 6-6, 324: Redshirted in ’19, ranked 5th on the 2019 Fabulous 55.

Andrej Karic, Fr., 6-4, 294: Was state’s 26th-ranked prospect coming out of Southlake.

Isaiah Hoofkin, Fr., 6-5, 314: Suffered a shoulder injury early in preseason camp.

Jaylen Garth, Fr., 6-5, 299: Missed his senior season of HS with a knee injury.

Texas offensive lineman Junior Angilau, center, listens to coaches during the first day of Longhorns football practice on Aug. 7. He should man the starting right guard spot this season. (Texas Athletics photo)

Guards

Interior line play will be a key to the Longhorns’ running game. Backs like Keaontay Ingram, Roschon Johnson and Bijan Robinson can burst through holes, but those holes have to be there. There’s experience at guard, just not great depth. Some Longhorns linemen have been cross-training at tackle and guard.

Tope Imade, Sr., 6-6, 355: Starting LG is a fifth-year senior and on-field tactition.

Junior Angilau, So., 6-6, 294: Started almost all last year at RG, but not well known.

Logan Parr, Fr., 6-4, 298: Was one of the nation’s top guard recruits last year.

Texas’ Derek Kerstetter, who was part of Tom Herman’s first class with the Longhorns when he signed out of San Antonio in 2017, has been Mr. Versatile so far. He has logged 28 career starts mostly at tackle or guard, but takes over center duties for his final year. (Eric Gay/The Associated Press)

Centers

Zach Shackelford was easy to take for granted, having commanded the starting center spot since his freshman year. But he has moved on and versatile lineman Derek Kerstetter, who can play guard, tackle or center, should provide that same veteran leadership up front that Shackelford did.

Derek Kerstetter, Sr., 6-5, 293: Moves to C this season, but has 28 career OL starts.

Rafiti Ghirmai, So., 6-5, 291: Has logged extensive time training as the backup center.

Jake Majors, Fr., 6-3, 298: Anchored a Prosper HS offense that averaged 37.6 points.

Willie Tyler, So., 6-7, 335: Opting out this season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Defense

Texas defensive end T’Vondre Sweat celebrates a stop against West Virginia last year in Morgantown, W. Va. (Nick Wagner/American-Statesman)

Defensive ends

This group — the whole defensive line, really — will be front and center this season. The defensive line couldn’t get much consistent pressure on quarterbacks last year.

T’Vondre Sweat, So., 6-4, 348: Was a regular part of the DE rotation last year

Daniel Carson, So., 6-4, 276: Kansas City native played in four games last season.

Myron Warren, Fr., 6-2, 290: Highly-touted recruit ended up redshirting last year.

Jacoby Jones, Sr., 6-4, 264: Former JUCO transfer played in 11 games last season.

Marqez Bimage, Sr., 6-2, 251: Opting out of the season because of the pandemic.

Alfred Collins, Fr., 6-5, 305: Bastrop star is already turning heads with his physicality.

The most important defensive player for the Longhorns this year? It’s likely Joseph Ossai, the former linebacker who will set the bar for Texas’ new “Jack” position, a hybrid linebacker/defensive end whose chief job is to rush the quarterback. Ossai had an impressive Alamo Bowl performance playing the Jack. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman)

Jack ends

This is a new position to Texas fans, but essentially it’s a hybrid linebacker and defensive end spot that allows athletic players to rush off the edge. Joseph Ossai showed what he could do in the Alamo Bowl, and the hope is Byron Vaughns can do the same.

Joseph Ossai, Jr., 6-4, 253: One of UT’s biggest defensive stars, had 14 TFL in ’19.

Byron Vaughns, So., 6-4, 225: Played in 10 games last year, finished with 14 tackles.

Texas defensive tackle Keondre Coburn settled in as a freshman starter for the Longhorns, who desperately needed someone to reliably plug up the middle of the line. (Stephen Spillman/For Statesman)

Defensive tackles

Herman has changed the defensive alignment, went back to a four-man front, hired another assistant to help Oscar Giles and will press forward under new defensive coordinator Chris Ash.

Keondre Coburn, So., 6-2, 384: Anchor in the middle, now a year older, a year wiser.

Ta’Quon Graham, Sr., 6-4, 294: Played DE last season, now moving inside to tackle.

Moro Ojomo, So., 6-3, 276: Played all season, had 13 tackles — same as Sweat.

Vernon Broughton, Fr., 6-4, 290: Like Collins, Broughton has impressed early.

Peter Mpagi, Fr., 6-5, 260: 2019 early enrollee ended up redshirting last season.

Reese Leitao, Jr., 6-4, 248: Former tight end has moved to defense to bolster line depth.

Sawyer Goram-Welch, Fr., 6-4, 295: Led a Longview defense that allowed 10.2 ppg.

 

Outside linebackers

Herman has not held back his concerns about the depth and play-making abilities of this group overall. Ossai has moved to the hybrid Jack position. But in the pass-happy Big 12, nobody gets a break in the open field.

Marcus Tillman, Fr., 6-1, 240: Played in 4 games last year, then suffered a knee injury.

Jalen Hullaby, Fr., 6-2, 217: Was ranked as the state’s 36th-best HS athlete prospet.

Texas linebacker Juwan Mitchell was a pleasant surprise for the Longhorns last year, finishing with 3.5 sacks and making some big plays. He and DeMarvion Overshown, a converted safety, will man the middle of the linebackers group on the field. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman)

Inside linebackers

DeMarvion Overshown and Juwan Mitchell are known quantities, but who else is going to become a consistent contributor?

DeMarvion Overshown, Jr., 6-4, 217: Converted safety switched to LB for plaing time.

Juwan Mitchell, Jr., 6-1, 230: Had 39 tackles, 3.5 sacks in 11 games last season.

Ayodele Adeoye, So., 6-1, 251: Started 10 games, had five tackles in the Alamo win.

Prince Dorbah, Fr., 6-3, 220: Dynamic freshman will get his chances in his first year.

Cort Jaquess, Jr., 6-1, 239: Went from walk-on to standout performer vs. Utah.

David Gbenda, Fr., 6-0, 228: Coaches briefly moved him to RB last year for depth.

Jaylan Ford, Fr., 6-2, 223: Was a two-time all-state pick in HS at Frisco Lone Star.

Luke Brockermeyer, So., 6-3, 226: Third-generation Horn earned a scholarship in ’19.

Jake Ehlinger, Fr., 5-11, 227: The QB’s younger brother hasn’t appeared in a game yet.

Jett Bush, So., 6-2, 235: Played in four games last season, had one fumble recovery.

Texas cornerback D’Shawn Jamison celebrates his second interception of the game against West Virginia during last year’s game in Morgantown. He, Jalen Green and Anthony Cook lead this year’s group of Longhorns cornerbacks. (Nick Wagner/American-Statesman)

Cornerbacks

There’s a slew of talented options at cornerback, which the Longhorns have concentrated on heavily in Herman’s first few years of recruiting. His 2018 class alone yielded several top DBs that now highlight the secondary’s depth chart.

D’Shawn Jamison, Jr., 5-10, 184: Had two incredible picks last year at West Virginia.

Jalen Green, Jr., 6-1,197: A dislocated shoulder injury slowed his sophomore season.

Anthony Cook, Jr., 6-1, 185: Started six games last year, forced a key fumble vs. OU.

Kenyatta Watson II, Fr., 6-1, 184: Played in four games last year, and redshirted.

Marques Caldwell, Fr., 6-1, 197: Made his career debut vs. Texas Tech, and redshirted.

Kitan Crawford, Fr., 5-11, 185: Was the state’s 38th-ranked prospect on our Fab 55.

Texas safety Caden Sterns was all over the field as a freshman in 2018, blocking kicks and picking off passes as he claimed a starting role. Another solid season as a sophomore has set him up to be one of the team’s defensive leaders this fall. (Nick Wagner/American-Statesman)

Safeties

This group was the driving force behind all the Longhorns’ social justice push this summer. It’s a group with some terrific thinkers. Now, they need to play just as hard. Safety Caden Sterns will be expected to patrol the secondary.

Caden Sterns, Jr., 6-1, 207: The Wolf has 120 career tackles, 4 INTs in 22 games.

Montrell Estelle, Jr., 6-1, 196: Steady contributor was in on 26 tackles last season.

Chris Brown, Sr., 5-11, 187: Started the first 6 games of ’19 before a forearm injury.

Tyler Owens, So., 6-2, 205: Played all season, earned his first career start vs. TCU.

Xavion Alford, Fr., 6-0, 190: Missed his 2019 final HS season with a first-game injury.

Jahdae Barron, Fr., 5-11, 183: Was the nation’s 47th-rated CB recruit by ESPN.

Jerrin Thompson, Fr., 6-0, 190: Was Rivals’ 10th-ranked safety prospect nationally.

Texas defensive back B.J. Foster celebrates a big hit on USC wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown during the 2018 win at Royal-Memorial Stadium. That tackle, though, was flagged for targeting and Foster was kicked out of the game. (Stephen Spillman/For Statesman)

Nickel backs

B.J. Foster — one of those highly-regarded 2018 recruits — is the heavy-hitting machine.

B.J. Foster, Jr., 6-2, 195: High on coaches’ radar, he’s notched 13 TFL and four sacks.

Josh Thompson, Jr., 6-0,198: Former starter suffered a foot injury last season.

Chris Adimora, So., 6-1, 214: Full-time reserve logged 10 tackles last season.

Everyone remembers Texas kicker Cameron Dicker for his big 2018 game-winning field goal against Oklahoma in the Red River Showdown. But in 2019 he added to his legacy, booting a 57-yarder and, here, kicking another game-winner to beat Kansas State last November, 27-24. (Nick Wagner/American-Statesman)

Specialists

Nothing like having steady performers on special teams. Cameron Dicker, the kicker, can probably still get a free lunch for his game-winning field goal against Oklahoma in 2018. He added a 57-yarder last season. Australian-born Ryan Bujcevski has long since broken out of cousin Michael Dickson’s shadow.

Cameron Dicker, Jr., 6-1, 204: UT’s kicker was 14-18 on FGs last year, with no blocks.

Ryan Bujcevski, Jr., 6-0, 183: Averaged 41.1 yards on punts before shoulder injury.

Justin Mader, Jr., 6-2, 238: Veteran deep snapper has had the job for two seasons.

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

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