The Sugar Bowl win over the Georgia Bulldogs capped the first ten-win season for the Texas Longhorns since 2009, but head coach Tom Herman and his staff will have some significant challenges on their hands heading into next season.
The departure of a large senior class that helped restore the program to national relevancy included eight starters on defense and three starters along the offensive line.
Early in January, the staff got some good news, as junior wide receiver Collin Johnson announced that he will return for his senior season in 2019, bolstering a talented wide receiver corps that broke through in 2018.
Junior safety Brandon Jones made the same decision, but the one early defection for the Longhorns is junior wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey.
Texas will also add another talented recruiting class that should once again provide several instant-impact contributors, particularly at linebacker. There are still a handful of spots left in the class, too, with National Signing Day looming in early February, but as January progresses, it becomes increasingly apparent that Texas may only add one or two prospects to the signing class.
So here’s a look at how the depth chart could come together next fall.
Way-too-early depth chart
|QB||Sam Ehlinger||11||Casey Thompson||8||Roschon Johnson||*|
|RB||Keaontay Ingram||26||Daniel Young||32||Kirk Johnson||28||Derrian Brown||*|
|XWR||Collin Johnson||9||Brennan Eagles||82||Malcolm Epps||85||Marcus Washington||*|
|HWR||Bru McCoy||*||Jordan Whittington||*||Jake Smith||*||Joshua Moore||14|
|ZWR||Devin Duvernay||6||John Burt||1||Al'vonte Woodard||83||Kennedy Lewis||*||Jordan Pouncey||86|
|YTE||Cade Brewer||80||Reese Leitao||81||Brayden Liebrock||*||Rob Cummins||99||Jared Wiley||*|
|LT||Sam Cosmi||52||Reese Moore||76||JP Urquidez||71||Isaiah Hookfin||*|
|LG||Parker Braun||*||Junior Angilau||75||Christian Jones||70|
|C||Zach Shackelford||56||Derek Kerstetter||68||Tyler Johnson||*|
|RG||Denzel Okafor||78||Tope Imade||67||Rafiti Ghirmai||74|
|RT||Derek Kerstetter||68||Denzel Okafor||78||Willie Tyler||*||Javonne Shepherd||*|
|DE||Malcolm Roach||32||Moro Ojomo||98||Jacoby Jones||*||Myron Warren|
|NT||Keondre Coburn||99||Gerald Wilbon||94||D'Andre Christmas-Giles||55|
|DE||Ta'Quon Graham||49||Marqez Bimage||42||Jamari Chisholm||91||Daniel Carson||88||T'Vondre Sweat||*|
|BLB||Joseph Ossai||46||Byron Vaughns||50||Peter Mpagi||*|
|MLB||Ayodele Adeoye||40||De'Gabriel Floyd||*||David Gbenda||*|
|ROV||Jeffrey McCulloch||23||Caleb Johnson||*||De'Gabriel Floyd||*||Marcus Tillman Jr.||*|
|CB||Anthony Cook||4||Kobe Boyce||38||Marques Caldwell||*|
|S||Caden Sterns||7||Chris Brown||15||Tyler Owens||*||Montrell Estell||39|
|S||Brandon Jones||19||BJ Foster||25||Chris Adimora||*|
|CB||Jalen Green||3||D'Shawn Jamison||17||Kenyatta Watson II||27||Donovan Duvernay||27|
|NB||Josh Thompson||28||BJ Foster||25||Chris Brown||15||D'Shawn Jamison||17|
|JB||BJ Foster||25||DeMarvion Overshown||31||Tyler Owens||*|
|PK||Cameron Dicker||17||Chris Naggar||45|
|P||Ryan Bujcevski||8||Cameron Dicker||17|
|KR||D'Shawn Jamison||17||Jordan Whittington||*|
|PR||D'Shawn Jamison||17||Jake Smith||*||Brandon Jones||19|
|Not listed||Patrick Hudson (illness)||73|
|Demarco Boyd (indefinite suspension)||36|
There are some moving pieces, certainly, particularly along the offensive line and with an incoming wide receiver like Jordan Whittington, who could play inside or outside.
Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando will also have to decide how he wants to organize his secondary — for instance will BJ Foster play nickel back as a sophomore to allow Josh Thompson to slide over to cornerback? That was my guess original here, but plenty can change between now and the season opener against Louisiana Tech in a little less than nine months.
And, in fact, after Brandon Jones named sophomore cornerbacks Anthony Cook and Jalen Green as his breakout defenders in late February, I moved both into starting positions and moved junior Josh Thompson back to nickel, where he played last season.
Additionally, offensive lineman Patrick Hudson has not practiced since his heat-related issues this fall and left the team after the fall semester. Linebacker Demarco Boyd has not been with the team as his aggravated assault case moves through the court system.