AUSTIN (KXAN) — Training camp at the University of Texas is underway as the new-look Longhorns begin their first season under the direction of new head coach Steve Sarkisian.
The coaching staff is not the only place where there will be new faces stepping into new, prominent roles.
Texas has several players on both sides of the ball who will be competing for starting spots and playing time. For some players, this season will provide an opportunity for their first extensive experience at the college level.
Let’s take a look at the expected key contributors on the Longhorns roster.
During Big 12 media days, Steve Sarkisian said, “The quarterback is the most important position in all of sports.” He also noted, because of its importance, he didn’t feel the spring session provided enough evidence to set one player apart to be named a starter, thus producing a good old fashioned QB battle heading into training camp. This is the first QB competition in a few years on the Forty Acres.
- Due to his experience, it would seem like junior Casey Thompson would be the favorite as the starter, heading into this season. A big feather in Thompson’s cap is his Alamo Bowl performance, completing eight of 10 passes for 170 yards and throwing four touchdowns. He also threw no interceptions, a big positive, but his spring game performance provides more questions. Thompson completed 23 of 42 passes, totaling 242 yards, but he threw two interceptions, one of which turned into a D’Shawn Jamison 100-yard pick six.
- Hudson Card, the redshirt freshman from Lake Travis, is the quarterback on the depth chart who is closest to Casey Thompson’s heels. Like Thompson, Card saw some time under center during the Alamo Bowl, but not nearly as much as his junior counterpart. Card only threw two passes, completing one for five yards. However, Card got way more run during the spring game, quarterbacking the White team. He completed 15 of 25 passes for 168 yards, throwing the game’s only touchdown. Card had his struggles as well, but made up for it with some very nice throws.
Plenty of talent and experience at this position with Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson.
- Barring a major injury, Bijan Robinson will be the starting running back for Texas. Robinson averaged 8.2 yards per carry, ran for a team-high 703 yards, scoring six total touchdowns last season. It’s clear he will be the featured back for the Longhorns.
- If it weren’t for Robinson, Roschon Johnson would be the clear starter, but Sarkisian still plans on getting plenty of mileage from Johnson. He started his career as a quarterback, but made the transition to running back in 2019 and never looked back. Johnson carried the ball 80 times for 418 yards, scoring six touchdowns in 2020. He also is a threat when it comes to catching passes.
- Daniel Young is the veteran running back on the roster, however, he did not play a down in 2020. In his career, dating back to 2017, Young has rushed for 539 yards total and five touchdowns.
- Gabriel Watson, Skylar Bonneau make up the other running backs to watch out for. They’re both seniors who did not see much action last year. Watson rushed for five yards total on two carries, and Bonneau did not play at all.
This is the group that will most likely be the most interesting to watch. Two top receivers, Brennan Eagles and Jake Smith are gone, so Texas will need several players to step to the forefront.
- Joshua Moore is going to be counted on to step into the number one receiver role. Moore started 10 games in 2020, catching nine touchdown passes — highest on the team. Moore had 472 total receiving yards in the 2020 season, he was also the top Longhorn in that category.
- Out of all of the receivers, the most curious case will be Jordan Whittington, a player who has battled injuries since arriving at Texas in 2019. Whittington only played in five games last season, starting twice. He has plenty of talent and explosiveness when healthy, but the latter will be something to watch.
- True freshman Xavier Worthy is expected to turn heads in preseason practice. The Longhorns were able to get his commitment in April after he originally pledged to Michigan. Worthy has something that can’t be coached — speed.
- Marcus Washington caught the only touchdown pass of the spring game, which is the exact amount of touchdowns he scored in 2020.
- Kelvontay Dixon, a redshirt freshman from Carthage, will be one to watch. Dixon scored one touchdown in 2020, and caught three passes for 76 yards total. Speed is his strong suit, and Texas is hoping they can cash in on that in 2021.
- Al’Vonte Woodard is a junior who is the only receiver to play in as many games as Joshua Moore last season. His effort in that time resulted in four receptions for 34 yards, no touchdowns.
- Troy Omeire is a redshirt freshman who missed all of 2020 due to an ACL injury that he sustained during fall camp. His size (6 foot 3) and speed earned him high honors in high school. Omeire was the popular breakout pick for 2020 before his injury.
- Montrell Estell started his career with Texas as a defensive player who saw action on special teams. Estell was in the secondary, but switched to wide receiver.
- Cade Brewer started in every game for Texas in 2020. He caught two touchdowns with 15 receptions overall for 169 yards. The senior from Lake Travis averaged 11 yards per catch last season.
- Jared Wiley is entering his junior season for the Longhorns. He played in nine games, starting twice in 2020. Wiley caught nine passes for 166 yards and one touchdown.
- Derek Kerstetter will take advantage of an extra year of eligibility to play his fifth year at Texas. Kerstetter was an All-Big 12 honorable mention in 2020.
- Denzel Okafor will be the most experienced member of the offensive line as a sixth-year senior for Texas. He played in nine games in 2020, only missing the Alamo Bowl.
- Junior Angilau, who is a…junior at Texas, played both left and right guard in nine games of action last season.
- Christian Jones also showed his versatility by playing left and right guard last season. Jones played nine games last season. He’s started 10 games out of the 23 games he’s played in his career.
- Tope Imade is another senior who saw some action on special teams last year. He played in the last four games of the season for the Longhorns.
- Sophomore Isaiah Hookfin, sophomore Tyler Johnson, redshirt freshman Logan Parr, redshirt freshman Jaylen Garth and freshman Hayden Connor round out the rest of the offensive line.
Plenty of talent on the defensive line this year for Texas, and they have solid experience heading into the 2021 season.
- Keondre Coburn, aka “Snacks”, ate plenty in 2020. Coburn led the defensive line in solo tackles and was a part of 25 tackles total. He’s started 22 of his 26 career games at Texas.
- Alfred Collins is a sophomore who is looking to grow his profile even more in 2021. The Bastrop Cedar Creek graduate turned heads last year with how quickly he acclimated to life in big-time college football. Collins recorded 11 solo tackles, was in on 18 tackles, and had 1.5 sacks last season.
- T’Vondre Sweat is looking to be another standout on the line this season as another member of the Horns who took the field in all 10 games in 2020. Sweat had six solo tackles, and was a part of 22 others. He also had four tackles for loss.
- Moro Ojomo had another solid year recording 10 solo tackles and had the most sacks in 2020 out of all of the returners on the defensive line.
Several solid returners for Texas at linebacker in 2021 with a lot of experience and a propensity for making big plays.
- DeMarvion Overshown leads the pack of linebackers for Texas. Overshown switched from defensive back to his new position right before 2020, and he produced like he had been there his entire career. He was tied for second on the team in total tackles in 2020 with 32, and was a part of 60 tackles. Overshown also showed that he didn’t lose his DB skills by recording two interceptions — a team high last year. He was named All-Big 12 honorable mention.
- Ray Thornton is looking to make his mark as he begins his first season with the Longhorns. Thornton is a graduate transfer from LSU, where he contributed 45 tackles, and three sacks as a member of the Tigers in 2020.
- Jett Bush, a junior from Houston, played in nine games last year. He had career-highs in tackles for both the season opener and the regular season finale with four tackles in each.
- David Gbenda played most of his 2020 season with the special teams unit. Gbenda had 10 solo tackles, and one interception. He did start one game at linebacker for the Longhorns.
- Jaylan Ford played in all 10 games as a freshman last year. Ford had five solo tackles, 10 overall, and started in the Alamo Bowl.
This group is one of the deepest position groups on the team with a mix of experience and raw talent.
- Josh Thompson is returning for his fifth year and he is one of the leaders of the team overall, not just the secondary. Thompson had 19 solo tackles in 2020, and one interception in ten starts for Texas.
- D’Shawn Jamison is a dual threat with his defensive and his performance on special teams, the latter of which earned him All-Big 12 honorable mention for Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year. Jamison showed out in the Orange-White game with the pick six off of Casey Thompson that was nearly 100 yards.
- Chris Adimora will be a junior in 2021. Adimora logged 29 solo tackes, contributed to 46 overall, he had one interception last season as well.
- Darion Dunn transferred from McNeese and is hoping to make an impact in a secondary that will provide some stiff competition.
- Anthony Cook will be a senior, Cook played in all ten games last season and had ten solo tackles.
- BJ Foster is another leader in the secondary, he played in nine games starting twice in 2020. Foster brought the heat during the Red River Rivalry being a part of 13 tackles, five solo against the Sooners. He also had four solo tackles in the Alamo Bowl.
- No surprise here! Cameron Dicker is entering his senior season. “Dicker the Kicker” was second team All-Big 12 in 2020. Dicker made 15 of 21 field goals in 2020.
- Ryan Bujcevski is looking to make a big mark in 2021 after missing the last three games of 2020 due to a torn ACL. Bujcevski is on the Ray Guy award watch list for 2021.