What did Steve Sarkisian inherit? Here’s a detailed breakdown of the Longhorns’ roster
Maybe he was just following the script during his introductory press conference or checking a necessary box. Either way, new Texas coach Steve Sarkisian put it on the record early that he understood the roster he inherited.
“First of all, I’d like to say that this is a talented roster,” Sarkisian said on Jan. 2. “You know, there's plenty of good football players on this team to go win a championship.”
And he’s right, to a degree. There are plenty of athletes on this roster to be competitive, as evidenced by four straight winning seasons and recruiting classes that have ranked third, third, eighth and 15th nationally the last four years.
But Sarkisian was hired to win Big 12 championships and reach the College Football Playoffs. That takes turning good players into great ones. Great players must become elite.
Is this roster good enough to do that in 2021? Just getting through September will be challenging enough. Still, practically every player in Texas' locker room was coveted by another school. Every Longhorn comes with a strong pedigree.
Here’s a look at Texas’ scholarship athletes that will try to help the Longhorns, and where each is at as the season opens. Players within position groups are listed by order of jersey number (in parenthesis), and asterisks denote a redshirt.
Hudson Card (1), 6-2/200, Fr.*: The Lake Travis product has all the desired skills, intangibles — just not much playing time. That may soon change.
Casey Thompson (11), 6-1/192, Jr.: Was Sam Ehlinger's backup the last two years. Threw 4 TDs in the Alamo Bowl. Is it his time?
Charles Wright (14), 6-1/200, Fr.: Somewhat of a surprising signee, but was nation’s 25th-best dual threat QB, per Rivals.
Cole Lourd (19), 6-2/228, Fr.: Californian threw for 2,833 yards two years ago; his grandfather, Jim Bob Moffett, played for DKR.
Roschon Johnson (2), 6-2/219, Jr.: Signed as a QB, RoJo is capable of hurdling open-field tacklers, averaged 5.2 ypc last year.
Bijan Robinson (5), 6-0/214, So.: A Heisman contender after 899 all-purpose yards last season. Big year, big expectations.
Keilan Robinson (7), 5-9/183, Jr.: Alabama transfer can help spread Sarkisian’s message. Opted out in 2020, had 254 yards in 2019.
Jonathon Brooks (24), 6-0/199, Fr.: Was one of state's top RBs after a huge year at Hallettsville. Once scored 7 TDs in a game.
Daniel Young (32), 6-0/220, Sr.: He's back after opting out in 2020. Has rushed for 589 yards in 36 games since 2017.
Gabriel Watson (33), 6-2/235, Sr.: A top Div. II RB before transferring, was a role player last year on special teams.
Jordan Whittington (4), 6-1/203, So.: Has always shown potential, but injuries have slowed him — he's played six games in two years.
Joshua Moore (6), 6-1/168, Jr.: Starts season as the Horns’ No. 1 receiving threat after making 9 TD catches in 2020.
Xavier Worthy (8), 6-1/160, Fr.: Former Michigan signee has turned heads in training camp. Can he do it on Saturdays?
Al'Vonte Woodard (9), 6-2/193, Jr.: Steady presence in the locker room, played mostly special teams last season.
Jaden Alexis (13), 6-0/188, Fr.: Comes with strong credentials and good pedigree. His dad played for two NFL teams.
Marcus Washington (15), 6-2/191, Jr.: Spot receiving duty last year, caught a 17-yard TD vs. UTEP. Must be more consistent.
Kelvontay Dixon (16), 6-0/179, Fr.*: Started vs. TCU and caught a 73-yard TD in the Alamo Bowl. Also needs consistency.
Troy Omeire (21), 6-3/220, Fr.*: Lots of hype, but how much will he contribute? Missed last year with a major knee injury.
Dajon Harrison (30), 5-10/165, Fr.*: Former Hutto star didn't play last year after a standout two-way prep career (track).
Montrell Estell (39), 6-1/196, Sr.: Fifth-year Horn switching to WR this season after playing 27 games (2 starts) at DB.
Kai Money (83), 6-0/179, Jr.: Former walk-on keeps hanging around. Had 9 catches for 71 yards and a TD in 2020.
Casey Cain (88), 6-3/192, Fr.: Was ranked as the 24th-best receiver prospect in Louisiana last year.
Ja'Tavion Sanders (3), 6-4/256, Fr.: One of the state's top recruits also can play defense. Averaged 18.4 yards per catch as a senior.
Jared Wiley (18), 6-7/251, Jr.: After two years as a blocker, it's time to turn him loose. Has 10 career catches, 181 yards, one TD.
Cade Brewer (80), 6-4/243, Sr.: Solid senior returns one more time. Seems like that big TD catch at USC was just yesterday (2017).
Juan Davis (81), 6-4/226, Fr.: Nice hands, athleticism. Eye-catching. Looking for a September surprise? Might be him.
Gunnar Helm (85), 6-5/238, Fr.: Playing time might be sparse. Had 28 catches for 367 yards, 7 TDs his senior HS year.
Brayden Liebrock (89), 6-4/228, So.: Has played mostly special teams after an All-American prep career in Arizona.
Andrej Karic (69), 6-4/300, Fr.*: Will see time at tackle this season. First career start was the Alamo Bowl win over Colorado.
Christian Jones (70), 6-6/314, Jr.: Likely starting LT. Started all last year. Can play either tackle spot after two full seasons.
Tyler Johnson (72), 6-6/325, So.: Former No. 5 recruit on our Fab 55. Started and played vs. Colorado last season.
Isaiah Hookfin (73), 6-5/299, So.: Likely to get more snaps this season as a backup tackle after two years as a reserve.
Rafiti Ghirmai (74), 6-5/296, Jr.: Fourth-year OL played all last season, knows what's expected from his unit.
Hayden Conner (76), 6-5/332, Fr.: Highly-touted recruit (49 prep pancake blocks in 2020) is a likely redshirt candidate.
Max Merril (79), 6-4/285, Fr.: Like Conner, needs to spend his first season bulking up, getting stronger. Was the 93rd-ranked tackle prospect in the state.
Jake Majors (65), 6-3/310, Fr.*: Might start at center. Played three games last year, starting twice, including the bowl game.
Derek Kerstetter (68), 6-5/310, Sr.: Can play every OL position. Has bounced back from an awful ankle injury at K-State.
Logan Parr (71), 6-4/308, Fr.*: Alamo Bowl was his UT debut. A backup C candidate, but played mostly G in high school
Tope Imade (67), 6-6/361, Sr.: Hasn't played much (8 games, 5 seasons) but called into action at the end of last season.
Junior Angilau (75), 6-6/319, Jr.: His third season as a starting guard. Is on the Polynesian College POY watch list.
Jaylen Garth (77), 6-5/309, Fr.*: Did not play last year, giving him time to fully recover from a 2019 knee injury.
Denzel Okafor (78), 6-4/322, Sr.: Is on his third head coach in his sixth season. Has 14 starts in 48 career games.
Vernon Broughton (45), 6-4/306, Fr.*: Played three games last year after an All-American prep career. Had two tackles, one sack vs. Colorado.
Byron Murphy II (90), 6-1/297, Fr.: Was one of DFW's top DL prospects. Initially needs to find ways to help on special teams.
Sawyer Goram-Welch (91), 6-4/301, Fr.*: Was used sporadically last year. Had 64 tackles, 15 TFL as a Longview senior.
Myron Warren (92), 6-2/285, So.: Arrived as Louisiana's 12th-best recruit in 2018 but hasn't played the last two seasons.
T'Vondre Sweat (93), 6-4/335, Jr.: A steady contributor the last two years, will be in the regular rotation. Ready to break out.
Alfred Collins (95), 6-5/302, So.: Everyone saw his spectacular Alamo Bowl interception. What can the elite athlete from Bastrop do for an encore?
Moro Ojomo (98), 6-3/286, Jr.: Entering his second year as a full-time starter. Had 21 tackles, two sacks last year.
Keondre Coburn (99), 6-2/346, Jr.: The defensive anchor was All-Big 12 honorable mention last year with 26 tackles.
Ben Davis (6), 6-4/236, Sr.: Alabama transfer is using his extra year of NCAA eligibility. Had one tackle in the national title game vs. Ohio State.
Ovie Oghoufo (18), 6-3/237, Jr.: Notre Dame transfer has been a camp surprise with his physicality. Played 20 games with the Irish.
Prince Dorbah (32), 6-3/234, Fr.*: Played in just one game last year, but Ivory Coast native has all the physical skills needed.
Jacoby Jones (36), 6-4/255, Sr.: Loquacious veteran had 29 tackles, 1.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries last season.
D.J. Harris Jr. (42), 6-2/226, Fr.: Was a star OLB at New Caney but missed most of the 2020 season with a knee injury.
Ray Thornton (46), 6-3/238, Sr.: LSU grad transfer comes with a national championship ring, 41 games as a Tiger.
Jordon Thomas (50), 6-3, 273, Fr.: Another OLB whose physical tools should translate well to the college game.
David Abiara (55), 6-4/256, Fr.: Needs to bulk up. Had 17 HS tackles, two fumble recoveries in six games last year at Mansfield Legacy.
Barryn Sorrell (88), 6-3/246, Fr.: Rated Louisiana's 37th-best SDE last year after playing TE in 2017 and 2018.
DeMarvion Overshown (0), 6-4/223, Sr.: Agent Zero is the face of the defense. Stock up on armbands now. Had 60 tackles last year.
Marcus Tillman, Jr. (13), 6-1/239, So.: Only six games in two years, but quietly appears to be putting it all together.
Jaden Hullaby (29), 6-2/223, Fr.*: Former HS QB is a terrific athlete. Played on special teams at the end of last season.
Devin Richardson (30), 6-3/233, Jr.: Transferred after New Mexico State's 2020 season was postponed.
David Gbenda (33), 6-0/224, So.: His last name is pronounced with a silent G, but he looks ready to make some noise in 2021.
Terrence Cooks II (35), 6-2/220, Fr.: Was No. 44 on our Fab 55 after 72 tackles, nine TFL and five sacks in 2020.
Morice Blackwell Jr. (37), 6-1/203, Fr.: Rangy athleticism will serve him well. Played S, special teams at Arlington Martin.
Ayodele Adeoye (40), 6-1/240, Jr.: Almost transferred but stayed. A 2019 starter but only two games in 2020 (knee).
Jaylan Ford (41), 6-2/230, So.: Played all 10 games last year on special teams. May have a path to playing time.
Luke Brockermeyer (47), 6-3/225 Jr.: Former walk-on is now a possible starter alongside Overshown.
Jett Bush (52), 6-2/236, Jr.: Had 12 tackles in eight games. When he's on the field, Bush is usually flying around.
Carlton Smith (53), 6-3/237, Sr.: A walk-on for four years at LSU. Played 11 games there, earned a 2019 ring.
Darion Dunn (4), 6-1/192, Sr.: McNeese State transfer had 23 starts there. Terrific athlete with a track background.
D'Shawn Jamison (5), 5-10/184, Sr.: A ferocious corner and one of the Big 12's most dangerous kick/punt returners.
Josh Thompson (9), 6-0/191, Sr.: Has played in 36 career games with 75 tackles. On track to being a team captain.
Ishmael Ibraheem (19), 6-1/160, Fr.: Was the state's 19th-best CB prospect last year, out of Dallas Kimball.
Kitan Crawford (21), 5-11/196, So.: Played in all 10 games last year. Can he make the jump to key contributor?
Jahdae Barron (23), 5-11/186, So.: Played in four games last year. Will the all-around athlete from Pflugerville keep progressing?
Marques Caldwell (24), 6-1/198, So.: Seemingly got lost in the shuffle at times last year. Played in two games.
Jamier Johnson (31), 6-0/166, Fr.: A two-way prep player who had 32 tackles in '19. California didn't play HS football last year.
Chris Adimora (1), 6-1/204, Jr.: 10 starts last year, 46 tackles, 1 INT. Will factor heavily into the secondary rotation.
Anthony Cook (11), 6-1/191, Sr.: A key DB the last three years (35 games). A candidate to start in the nickel package.
Brenden Schooler (14), 6-2/206, Sr.: Taking his wild hair, crazy thigh tattoos from offense (WR) to defense this year.
B.J. Foster (25), 6-2/199, Sr.: Veteran (31 games, 16 starts) gets emotional at times, but always brings the lumber. A likely starter.
JD Coffey III (27), 6-0/183, Fr.: Had 313 tackles, 19 INTs, 25 pass breakups in a busy prep career at Kennedale.
Jerrin Thompson (28), 6-0/188, So.: Safety or nickel? Special teams guy last year always was around the play.
Tyler Owens (44), 6-2/203, Jr.: Solid rotational player also has logged 22 games the last two years on special teams.
Ryan Bujcevski (8), 6-0/177, Sr.: Fourth-year punter missed the last three games last year with a torn knee ligament.
Cameron Dicker (17), 6-1/216, Sr.: Dicker, the kicker, is No. 6 on UT's career points list. He'll make it interesting from anywhere.
Zach Edwards (43), 5-11/211, Jr.: Was the holder on FGs in two games last year, also can be a deep snapper.
Isaac Pearson (49), 6-2/224, Fr.: Next in line of Texas' Aussie punters. Played Australian Rules Football until he was 19.
Justin Mader (54), 6-2/236, Sr.: Has held the deep snapper's job three straight years. As close to automatic as it gets.
Gabriel Lozano (96), 6-0/172, So.: Texas Tech transfer (and Westlake product) was a kickoff specialist in two Red Raiders games.