Devy U: Texas
By Tommy Harvey
Steve Sarkisian has done a good job of assembling a talent rich program in Austin. Texas has always had a lot of NFL talent, but the Longhorns may be in their best position since the mid-2000’s. They’ll need to continue to stockpile elite players since they are moving into the SEC beginning in 2024. Texas has had a bit of a dry spell over the last 15+ years in terms of placing elite players into the NFL. That has begun to change with Bijan Robinson in this year’s draft and now moving forward with the likes of Quinn Ewers, Xavier Worthy, and Ja’Tavion Sanders on down to their incoming freshmen that will represent the future of the Texas Longhorn program.
Quinn Ewers RS-SO (6’2, 204lbs)
Ewers was a massive 5* recruit for the 2022 class who reclassified to 2021 in order to join Ohio State. After redshirting for the Buckeyes, Ewers transferred to Texas in 2022. He looked like the player we all expected until he was injured in a matchup against Alabama. Upon his return, he struggled with consistency and had a very up-and-down season. Ewers did, however, finish strong with a big performance against Washington in the bowl game. He is currently QB5 in my rankings and QB3 for the 2024 NFL Draft.
Arch Manning FR (6’4, 212lbs)
Arch is a bit of a polarizing player. Some view him as a 5* QB, while others say it’s just the name. I’m somewhere in between. While he does have the size and tools to be an outstanding player and future 1st rounder, he also struggled when he played against good teams in high school. Manning also did not have a good outing in his 1st spring game in Austin, going 5-13 for 30 yards. He is at least a year away from taking over as the QB1 for Texas, and that’s if he can beat out Maalik Murphy.
Maalik Murphy RS-FR (6’5, 235lbs)
Speaking of Maalik Murphy…he redshirted in 2022 and is Longhorns’ QB2 heading into 2023. He has a really big frame, but is not a statue in the backfield. Murphy has a strong arm and the potential to be special. It almost feels as if he will need to transfer in order to get a starting opportunity. Arch’s name carries a lot of weight and I would think he gets the most opportunities, but don’t underestimate Murphy’s abilities.
Cedric (CJ) Baxter FR (6’1, 210lbs)
Texas is becoming a bit of a running back factory. They have plenty of options heading into the 2023 season, and CJ Baxter should get his share of carries. He has good field vision, is difficult to tackle, and while he’s not a burner, he has plenty of speed to break the big one. A 5* RB with the size and skillset to be a future NFL star, Baxter will compete for the starting job as a freshman.
Jaydon Blue RS-FR (6’0, 191lbs)
Blue had a lot of buzz around him last offseason, however he did not see the field. I believe that was by design though. He had Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson ahead of him on the depth chart, and he hadn’t played since his junior year of high school. Blue possesses blazing speed, great agility, and terrific playmaking ability. Texas has a highly formidable duo at RB for the next couple of years with Blue and Baxter.
Jonathon Brooks RS-SO (6’0, 204lbs)
Another quality RB, Jonathan Brooks could potentially be the odd man out. If Brooks fails to carve out a major role this season, a transfer could be in order. He is a P5 talent with NFL upside, so it will be interesting to monitor his situation this season.
Xavier Worthy JR (6’1, 164lbs)
After a great freshman year, Worthy took a bit of a step back last season. Drops became an issue and his stock took a hit because of it. It has been reported that he played alot of the 2022 season with a broken hand, which explains a lot. This season, with a healthy Quinn Ewers at QB, Worthy should be a bounce-back candidate and look more like the guy who had a 38.82% dominator rating in 2021.
Johntay Cook II FR (6’0, 184lbs)
The next great Longhorn WR has arrived in Austin and his name is Johntay Cook II. He is versatile and explosive with great ball-tracking and YAC ability. In a class full of great WR talent, Cook is near the top of the mountain. He could compete to WR1 in his draft class and has superstar NFL potential.
Adonai (AD) Mitchell RS-JR (6’4, 195lbs)
While at Georgia, Mitchell displayed good physicality and fluidity. He is not a precise route runner, but uses his physical nature to make catches and get away from tackles. After missing 9 games due to injury last season, Mitchell transferred to Texas and will likely take over as their WR2 in 2023. Probably an early day 3 draft pick, Mitchell could improve upon that with a healthy, productive season in Austin.
Isaiah Neyor RS-JR (6’3, 216lbs)
Neyor had a staggering dominator rating of 60.76% while at Wyoming in 2021, and was considered a high priority transfer by many schools. Texas ultimately landed him, but he suffered an ACL injury and missed all of 2022. Neyor has elite size and great hands with good quickness. He will need to find the ability to create separation, but he could find himself with mid-round capital in next year’s draft.
Ryan Niblett FR (5’10, 165lbs)
Speed, speed, speed, and more speed. Niblett will need to refine his WR skills, as he has not played a ton of it. In high school he was more of a jack of all trades, playing QB, WR, and CB, but Texas felt like he was a capable WR and that’s saying something. It may take a couple of years for him to become a major player, so patience will be needed here.
DeAndre Moore Jr FR (6’0, 192lbs)
Much like Niblett, Moore had some position flexibility. Considered a high-end recruit at both WR and Safety, Moore prefers the offensive side of the ball. He is a good 50/50 ball target and has strong hands and good physicality. He will need to work on his speed in order to create separation at this elite college level, but he is very toolsy and should grow into an NFL prospect over the next few years.
Ja’Tavion Sanders JR (6’4, 241lbs)
Outside of Brock Bowers, Sanders is the premiere TE prospect. Elite route running, elusiveness, and strong hands make him a potential 1st round draft pick in 2024. He will need to improve his blocking and willingness to block, as well as his willingness to run over a defender at the next level, but that should not hinder you from taking him as the TE2.