With the start of the college football season three months away, Texas Longhorns players are returning to the Forty Acres with classes set to start on Thursday, joining the group of summer enrollees who moved in over the holiday weekend.
Since 15 high school signees and three transfers enrolled early, the Longhorns are welcoming 10 high school signees and two transfers to campus this week.
After going through winter conditioning and spring practice, those early enrollees have a head start on earning a spot on the depth chart and special teams units.
Here’s what the expectations look like for the summer enrollees.
New Iberia (La.) Westgate safety Derek Williams
The No. 48 player overall and the No. 4 safety, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Williams is the highest-rated high school signee among the summer enrollees. However, the addition of Arkansas transfer Jalen Catalon and the emergence of senior Kitan Crawford as a more consistent player during the spring will make it harder for Williams to earn a spot on the two-deep depth chart at safety. Still, Williams has the profile of a player who should emerge as a core special teams contributor.
Aldine Eisenhower wide receiver Ryan Niblett
A top-100 prospect who participated in the All-American Bowl, Niblett is an undersized speedster who ran a 10.58 100m as a sophomore. The departure of Brenen Thompson did decrease the depth inside and senior Jordan Whittington isn’t known as a vertical threat, but even to serve in a specialty role would require Niblett to steal some playing time from early enrollees Johntay Cook and DeAndre Moore Jr., a difficult proposition.
Waco Connally athlete Jelani McDonald
A late addition to the class who pledged during the All-American Bowl, McDonald was a fast-rising prospect as a senior who went from outside the top 1,000 prospects nationally last summer to inside the top 100 in a matter of months thanks to his intriguing combination of length and athleticism. McDonald was a two-way standout for Connally who held his own playing cornerback in San Antonio, but projects more cleanly as a jumbo nickel/off-ball linebacker who could compete to replace Jahdae Barron. Like Williams, McDonald is a candidate to earn a role on special teams, but may need time to develop.
Red Oak safety Warren Roberson
Roberson’s recruitment started to take off last spring before Texas entered the mix in September, weeks before he committed to TCU. The Longhorns were able to secure a flip from Roberson late in the process. Roberson has some experience as a return man — he may not have the dynamic ability to earn a starting job in that role for Texas, but is another player who should provide help on special teams.
Fort Worth North Crowley linebacker S’Maje Burrell
Slightly undersized at 6’0, 215 pound, Burrell is an excellent athlete with sideline-to-sideline speed at the position who projects to the weak side. Burrell was an excellent playmaker as a junior with five sacks, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and an interception, but with improved depth at the linebacker position thanks to early enrollees in the 2023 class, Burrell doesn’t project as a contributor there this season.
Melissa offensive tackle Trevor Goosby
Another former TCU commit, Goosby is the only offensive lineman in the 2023 class who didn’t enroll early. A standout on the basketball court with high-level movement skills for the position, Goosby doesn’t fit position coach Kyle Flood’s preference for massive bodies, but does fit the profile of undersized offensive tackles who have enough upside to develop into NFL players. The best-case scenario for Goosby as a true freshman is make the two-deep as the backup left tackle, a difficult ask for an undersized summer enrollee.
DeSoto running back Tre Wisner
As the state champion arrives on the Forty Acres, the biggest question surrounding Wisner’s future is what position he’ll eventually play. After transferring from Waco Connally to DeSoto, Wisner split time between wide receiver and running back, proving his versatility in the state title game against Austin Vandegrift with five carries for 75 yards and six catches for 135 yards and a pair of touchdowns. While Wisner could eventually settle into the hybrid role currently occupied by sophomore Savion Red and, to some extent, senior Keilan Robinson, there’s stiff competition at both positions.
South Oak Cliff edge Billy Walton
Once committed to Oklahoma State, Walton arrives in Austin after an outstanding senior season during which he produced 100 tackles, 32 tackles for loss, 18 sacks, and two interceptions. Since Walton does need to add weight to compete on the edge in college, the production didn’t translate into a lofty ranking for Walton, who will need time to develop in college.
Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei tight end Spencer Shannon
At 6’7, 240 pounds, Shannon is a blocking tight end whose presence will help fortify one of the team’s most thin positions — arguably the most thin position, in fact. Junior Gunnar Helm currently occupies the role of blocking tight end following the transfer of former jumbo tight end/offensive tackle Andrej Karic, but with only four healthy tight ends on the roster for the fall, there’s not much separating Shannon from the potential of playing time with junior Juan Davis known as more of a receiving threat.
New Orleans (La.) Isidore Newman tight end Will Randle
Arch Manning’s former high school teammate will spend most if not all of the 2023 season recovering from a knee injury that ended his playing career at Newman.
Minnesota transfer defensive tackle Trill Carter
Head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff opted to use the program’s final 2023 scholarship to improve the interior defensive line depth. Carter fits the bill as a multi-year starter who chose Texas over Arkansas, Illinois, and Ohio State. While not an especially disruptive player, Carter does project as a rotational player who should benefit from playing a smaller number of snaps for the Longhorns.
Stanford transfer punter Ryan Sanborn
The longtime starter in Palo Alto was brought in to start this season after Texas spent the spring using a walk-on kicker as the punter — he’s a much-needed addition for a program that had to bring in an NAIA player during last year’s preseason camp in order to bolster the position.