Townley Haas of the United States poses for a photo with his gold medal on the Today show set on Copacabana Beach on August 10, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)


The year in review: 10 best Longhorn newcomers of 2016

Posted December 20th, 2016


When athletes arrive on campus at Texas, it can be overwhelming. But for those who arrive and thrive, it can be legendary. Here are the 10 best newcomers of 2016.

10.  Devin Duvernay, Football

The freshman receiver’s numbers are modest, if you want to call it that. He had 20 catches for 412 yards and three touchdowns. But he was on the receiving end of several long touchdown plays and clearly flashed signs of greatness. Here’s what he did against Kansas State, the future is bright for Duvernay.


9. Kody Clemens, baseball

So you play baseball at Texas. You’re last name is Clemens. You’re a high school All-American. You’re older brother is on the team. Your oldest brother also was on the team. Sounds like a lot of pressure. Yes, the son of one of the best players in program history – Roger – Kody did his best to live up to the family name his freshman season. He batted .242 with five home runs and 28 RBIs, but he started 56 of 57  games, had 215 at-bats with 10 doubles as a true freshman.

8. Celina Felix, softball

After transferring from Mt. San Antonio College College, Felix batted .358 for for the Longhorns, third on the team, and started all 54 games for the Longhorns. The infielder hit seven doubles, drove in 39 runs and led the Longhorns with 173 at-bats, and had just nine  strikeouts. She hammered eight home runs and overall was one of the most consistent players for the Longhorns. Felix played two seasons at Mt. San Antonio College in California and was a two-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association Cal Junior College All-American. In 2016 she was named to the NFCA All-Central Region team.

7. LaShann Higgs, women’s basketball

A 2015 McDonald’s All-American, Higgs committed to Texas after her freshman year, then moved to the Austin area where she played at Round Rock Cedar Ridge High School. When she finally made her debut at Texas she played in 36 games, led the Longhorns with 48 steals, scored in double figures 11 times and was a member of the All-Regional Team in the NCAA Tournament.

6. Eric Davis, men’s basketball

Like teammate Kerwin Roach, Davis was a member of the Big 12 Newcomer team. The two averaged around the same amount of points, a little more than 7 a game, but their ability to bring the athletic style and energy coach Shaka Smart needed helped make Texas a tournament team. The Michigan native was the No. 45 prospect according to ESPN when he arrived on campus, and after his first season he’s already looking forward to taking on a bigger role for the Longhorns.

5. Kerwin Roach, men’s basketball

Roach’s freshman season started in 2015, but the bulk of his work came in 2016 during Big 12 season. Roach, along with Davis, was named to the Big 12 All-Newcomer team. Neither Roach or Davis averaged double-figures, but their impact was felt in other ways. Roach’s athletic ability and burst of scoring runs helped Texas transition into the Shaka Smart era and lifted the Longhorns into the NCAA Tournament despite playing in one of the college basketball’s toughest conferences. Roach ended the regular season with a Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honor after scoring 15 second half points against Oklahoma State.

4. Mariam Soufi, rowing

Arriving at Texas from Atlanta, Soufi, who apparently is interested in history, was the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year for the Longhorns. She helped Texas to a sixth Big 12 team title and second straight individual title at Texas. She helped Texas to eighth and seventh-place overall finishes at the NCAA Championship.

3. Shane Buechele, football

So the season didn’t end as well as Buechele would have hoped, that doesn’t take away from an overall solid season by a true-freshman starting quarterback. Texas hasn’t had many of those in the history of the program. Buechele started 12 games, threw 21 touchdowns and had 2,958 yards. He completed 60 percent of his passes. Sure his 11 interceptions weren’t great, especially in overtime against Kansas, but not many freshmen were given 391 passing attempts this season. Here’s Buechele’s first touchdown pass as a Longhorn:

2. Micaya White, volleyball

The 6-foot-1-inch freshman from Frisco Centennial red-shirted in 2015 following an injury, then took the Big 12 by storm this fall.  She won Freshman of the Week honors eight times, setting a record, and was unsurprisingly named Big 12 Freshman of the of the Year. She was All-Big 12 and led her team to the NCAA Final Four where the Longhorns finished at the national runner-up.

1. Townley Haas, Swimming and diving

Where to start. Haas won a gold medal at the Rio Summer Olympic Games as a member of the 4×200 meter freestyle relay. He was an Olympic finalist in the 200 meter freestyle, he finished fifth. Oh, we have more. Way more. He holds the NCAA, American, U.S. Open, NCAA Championship meet, school and Big 12 records in the 200-yard freestyle. He was a 2016 NCAA champion in the 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle and  800 freestyle relay team. In his first season with Texas, Haas won four Big 12 titles, was an All-American five times over and did we mention his gold medal at the Olympics?

Get caught up with the end of the year series: 

Dec. 19: Texas football’s top 10 plays of 2016

Dec. 20: 10 best Longhorn newcomers of 2016

Dec. 21: 10 best Texas football moments of 2016

Dec. 22: 10 worst moments of 2016 Longhorn football

Dec. 23: Top 10 recruits to come to Texas in 2016

Dec. 24: 10 best Longhorn moments of 2016

Dec. 25: 10 best Longhorn athletes of 2016

Dec. 26: 2017 Longhorn storylines to watch

Dec. 27: 5 Longhorn squads that can win it all next year

Dec. 28: 10 Longhorn football recruits to watch in 2017

Dec. 29: 10 Longhorns athletes to watch in 2017

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