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Assessing the Texas spring roster matrix

A look at the current roster construction for the Longhorns with spring practice now underway.

Texas football

Head coach Steve Sarkisian and his Texas Longhorns staff welcomed 14 newcomers to the Forty Acres this semester and went through the first spring practice with the new-look roster on Tuesday at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

Over the last year, Sarkisian has started to rebuild the program in his own image and the current roster matrix reflects his priorities.

  • Texas needed to get more talented at quarterback. When Quinn Ewers committed to Texas, 2022 quarterback pledge Jalen Milroe ended up flipping to Alabama, leaving the Longhorns forced to take local product Charles Wright, who eventually ended up behind Ben Ballard on the depth chart late in the 2021 season. So Sarkisian needed to add more talent, landing Ewers in the transfer portal and Maalik Murphy in the 2021 recruiting class out of high school. Casey Thompson left after Ewers committed, but this is a significantly more talented room than it was last season.
  • The running back position has ridiculous amounts of talent. During spring practice last season, Texas had Bijan Robinson, Roschon Johnson, and position depth with Daniel Young and Gabe Watson. Now the Longhorns have an embarrassment of riches with the additions of speedy Keilan Robinson, promising Jonathon Brooks, and talented early enrollee Jaydon Blue.
  • Turnover at wide receiver. Texas enters the spring set to begin the season with 11 wide receivers with only seven available for spring practice, compared to 14 wide receivers last season. There’s been some attrition with the departures of Jake Smith, Joshua Moore, Keithron Lee, and Al’Vonte Woodard, and Sarkisian thought there were too many wide receivers when he arrived, but one of the reasons Andre Coleman no longer works at Texas was his inability to add some high school talent to this group. Both 2022 signees will arrive during the summer, although Wyoming transfer Isaiah Neyor is on campus currently.
  • Offensive line help doesn’t arrive until the summer. Sarkisian was able to add quantity and quality to an offensive line group he thought was too small last year after recruiting issues in the 2021 class, landing seven signees. Unfortunately, only one is on campus — Cole Hutson — and with some attrition and the injury to Isaiah Hookfin, the numbers are pretty small this spring.
  • There’s serious trench help for the defensive line, too. Texas is on track to start the 2022 season with five more defensive linemen/outside linebackers than last season, and that’s even without the potential to make an addition at the edge with the continued pursuit of TCU transfer Ochaun Mathis. Unlike the offensive line, though, it will be hard for the young defensive linemen to contribute, with the possible exception of edge Justice Finkley.
  • Texas is thin at inside linebacker. The Longhorns only signed one inside linebacker, Trevell Johnson, a summer enrollee, and haven’t yet made an addition through the portal, though that remains an option. With Luke Brockermeyer out, that leaves only five scholarship players for the Will and Mike positions this spring. Since Brockermeyer almost certainly won’t be healthy when the season starts, numbers at those two positions are of significant concern.
  • Big changes in the secondary. Texas landed six defensive backs in the 2022 class, as well as Ohio State transfer Ryan Watts, re-shaping the secondary even before considering a handful of position changes. Of the early enrollees out of high school, this is the group most likely to make an impact throughout the spring and during the 2022 season.
  • The specialists arrive during the summer. Following the departures of Cameron Dicker and Justin Mader, Texas will go through the spring with walk ons competing for the starting placekicker role and the deep snapper role before Will Stone and Lance St. Louis arrive this summer.
  • Texas is four over the scholarship limit and has several spots remaining. The NCAA may provide some scholarship relief by declining to count super seniors against the 85-man scholarship limit, as happened last season, but until that happens, the Longhorns will need to suffer some typical attrition over the coming months. Thanks to position changes, the staff may decline to take a safety from the transfer portal, but an edge player and an inside linebacker remain strong possibilities based on the current roster construction.