On Thursday evening, with the season opener against the UTEP Miners two days away, the Texas Longhorns released the names of the team captains for the 2020 season.
Those seven players are senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger, redshirt junior left tackle Sam Cosmi, senior center Derek Kerstetter, senior defensive tackle Ta’Quon Graham, junior Jack Joseph Ossai, senior safety Chris Brown, and junior safety Caden Sterns.
A potential Heisman Trophy candidate who has started 33 games for the Longhorns and ranks as one of the most productive active FBS quarterbacks, Ehlinger enters his senior season attempting to cement his legacy as one of the top quarterbacks in school history.
He leads leads all active FBS quarterbacks in completions (571), attempts (879), passing yards (6,955), total offense (8,100) and total touchdowns (80) since the start of the 2018 season. Over that stretch, he ranks second among active FBS quarterbacks in passing touchdowns (57) and is the only FBS player to account for 50 touchdown passes and 20 rushing touchdowns since the start of the 2018 season.
Cosmi is a potential first-round draft pick if he decides to turn pro after this season, which will be his third in the starting lineup. Now a 26-game starter for the Horns, Cosmi has a chance to become the first Texas offensive lineman selected in the first round since Mike Williams was selected with the fourth pick in 2002. Last season, Cosmi was a first-team selection on PFF’s All-Big 12 team.
Ranked as the top returning pass blocker in the FBS at right tackle entering this season, Kerstetter made the full-time move to center during the offseason to replace Zach Shackelford. A four-year starter who has also played guard for the Longhorns, Kerstetter has overachieved as a former consensus three-star prospect who wasn’t ranked among the nation’s top 600 players.
Graham moved inside to defensive tackle from defensive end this year and looks poised to build on a junior season that saw him finish second on the team in sacks (3.5) and tackles for loss (12) during his first season as a full-time starter. His best performance in 2019 came in the Alamo Bowl, during which he recorded 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
Ossai was even better that evening in San Antonio, earning Defensive MVP honors after recording nine tackles, six tackles for loss, and three sacks. Hobbled by a shoulder injury for much of the season, Ossai also had to spent much of the year playing inside linebacker. Now at the hybrid Jack position in Chris Ash’s defense, Ossai projects as an impact player for the Longhorns.
A 10-game starter in 2019 despite suffering a broken forearm against Oklahoma, Brown recorded 46 tackles (37 solo), three tackles for loss, two pass breakups, one interception, and one fumble recovery last season. During preseason camp, he was able to beat out 14-game starter BJ Foster for a spot on the defense’s first team.
Sterns is attempting to bounce back from a disappointing sophomore season derailed by a preseason injury. Called the quarterback of the defense by Ash on Wednesday, Sterns burst onto the scene in 2018 as the Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and a first-team All-Big 12 selection. The first true freshman to start all every game at safety for the Longhorns since Blake Gideon in 2008, Sterns tied the school’s freshman record with four interceptions.