The Big 12 released its preseason awards on Wednesday and Texas Longhorns senior linebacker Jaylan Ford was named conference preseason Defensive Player of the Year while joining five other Longhorns on the first team.
Junior wide receiver Xavier Worthy, junior right end Ja’Tavion Sanders, sophomore left tackle Kelvin Banks, junior defensive tackle Byron Murphy, and Ford were all named to the Preseason All-Big 12 football team. While Worthy was the only unanimous selection, the five players picked were the most of any team in the conference.
With 15 starts over 35 career games, Ford had a breakout season in 2022, pacing the Horns with a career-high 119 tackles (61 solo), three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and four interceptions, the most for a Texas linebacker since Derrick Johnson in 2002 and 2003. Ford added 10 tackles for loss, two sacks, and two quarterback hurries in his AP All-America campaign. In 2016, Malik Jefferson was the last Longhorn selected as the Big 12 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
A Preseason All-Big 12 selection in 2022, Worthy has started all 25 games in his career, notching 60 receptions for 760 yards and a conference-best nine touchdowns last season, earning All-Big 12 second recognition in the process. Despite playing only two seasons on the Forty Acres so far, Worthy is third in school history with 21 touchdown receptions and 14th with 122 catches.
Sanders has started 13 of 25 games in his career and also had a breakout season in 2022 during which he was named to the All-Big 12 first team after catching 54 passes for 613 yards and five touchdowns. His 54 receptions led Big 12 tight ends, as did his receiving yards, while his five touchdowns ranked second at the position. The 54 catches by Sanders set the single-season school record for a tight end and his receiving yards are the second-most at Texas.
Banks was an immediate sensation for the Longhorns, starting all 13 games as a true freshman after enrolling during the summer and receiving FWAA Freshman All-American honors, as well as All-Big 12 second team recognition.
Of the five Longhorns on the first team, Murphy has the most to prove. The DeSoto product has started twice in 25 career games with 26 tackles (nine solo). three tackles for loss, one sack, and two quarterback hurries in 2022.