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Staff Roundtable: Transfer portal and Early Signing Day preview

Plus, the staff’s biggest key for Texas vs. Washington.

Texas Tech v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The transfer portal, as expected, has been chaos, and not even the Texas Longhorns have stayed clear from it with seven players entering the portal as of Friday with possibly more expected after the postseason games. Did any of those names surprise you?

Daniel Seahorn (@DanielSeahorn) - None of them have truly surprised me if I’m being honest. All of them are guys who need a fresh start so that they can maximize what’s left of their college careers and I can’t fault them for that. Jalen Catalon logged the most snaps of anyone in the portal for Texas and he was banged up for the back half of the year. I hate we didn’t get to see the best of Catalon at Texas because of the injuries he was fun to watch sell out on defense to make plays. Isaiah Neyor is another name that will leave Texas fans wondering what could have been as well. He looked primed for a big year in 2022 before the injury at the end of camp. He was never able to crack the rotation after that.

Gerald Goodridge (@ghgoodridge) - Honestly none of them were too surprising. The only one who could have been called a contributor was Catalon, but he saw his time diminish after the injuries and younger players stepping up. He came to Texas with a contract year in mind but needed to stay healthy and couldn’t really live up to that. At this point, it seems like most of the guys who are in are guys who were recruited over or couldn’t find a way to make an impact. I wouldn’t be shocked to see some more hit the portal in the post-spring window, so let’s hold out.

Cameron Parker (@camerondparker) - Not at all. With the reports of Quinn Ewers’ returning, it makes all the sense in the world for Maalik Murphy to transfer out and find a starting job. Now the transfer portal window is extended for teams that reach the CFP so there may be more names that leave.

Just as important as the transfer portal is Early Signing Day which arrives next Wednesday. Which commits, targets, or undecided player(s) will you be watching in the next week?

Daniel - I think the big name to watch will be Xavier Filsaime. It’s crazy how much ground Texas has made up in the recruitment considering they didn’t offer until early October. Flipping him from the Gators would be another feather in the cap for Steve Sarkisian.

Gerald - The easy answers are Kobe Black and Xavier Filsaime. Both of those guys are elite skill players on defense and have an opening to come in and contribute early. I’m also looking peripherally at Ryan Williams, a teammate of 2025 quarterback KJ Lacey. It’s no secret that Lacey is trying to get his friend in Burnt Orange, so if we see Williams on campus this weekend then I have my radar up.

Cameron - Ryan Williams and Xavier Filsaime are the two names I’m keeping an eye on. Both are guys who could make an impact from day one and both play positions that will need depth heading into 2023-24.

It will be a successful ESD for Steve Sarkisian and the staff if…

Daniel - Sign all of the guys they have committed without any drama and add another surprise or two to class down the homestretch. This staff is known for recruiting through the whistle, so it will be interesting to see what surfaces between now and next Wednesday.

Gerald - Signs all of the currently committed players, plus the two high-end DB targets they seemingly have all of the momentum for. That would likely be enough to jump them into the top 5 for the year, with an outside shot at jumping Bama if something unexpected happens. If that happens, Sark and Co. would be 3 for 3 in his first three full cycles, having positioned Texas as one of the most talented teams in the SEC – behind Georgia and Alabama – ahead of the conference jump.

Cameron - Flip Williams and Filsaime.

Now looking at the upcoming Sugar Bowl between the Horns and the Washington Huskies — what do you think will be the biggest keys for Texas to win?

Daniel - It’s going to be cohesion in the secondary and the Texas defensive front being able to disrupt Michael Penix’s rhythm as a passer. If he can play pitch and catch with his receivers in NOLA then it’s going to be a long night and Texas will have to win a track meet.

Gerald - Avoiding miscommunication at safety and generating pressure. It really is just that simple. I think Texas has the horses offensively to score, but when football games turn into track meets, it's the team that gets one stop that generally wins. Texas easily has the best interior defensive line in the country, which can cause all sorts of trouble for the blocking schemes and rhythm in the passing game. If Sweat and Murphy can do to a stout Washington line what they’ve done all year to everyone else, New Year’s Day will be a fun one for Texas fans.

Cameron - Unforced errors. In the Longhorn's lone loss this season to Oklahoma, it was first-half turnovers (and one in the second half) that killed Texas. In their loss to Washington in the Alamo Bowl this past season, it was untimely drops and penalties that cost the Horns ultimately. I have an inkling that whichever Quarterback refrains from turning the ball over the most will be the one that sends his team to the National Championship.