Texas Football: Touted Longhorns Who Will Finally Live Up to Their Billing
Jody Gomez-US PRESSWIRE
Texas football has a longstanding tradition of high-level players. This season is no different—the Longhorns have a few individuals who are poised for a breakout season.
In recent years, Longhorns fans have been graced by the talents of Vince Young, Colt McCoy, Jordan Shipley, Brian Orakpo and Sam Acho, to name a few.
With one of the best coaches in FBS history, Mack Brown, Texas seems to never be short of individual talent.
Brown and his staff are excellent recruiters, posting top five recruiting classes in every season since 2009.
With a talented defensive line, anchored by Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat, the Texas defense should be solid.
The offense named sophomore David Ash quarterback. He will need to perform well every week with junior Case McCoy breathing down his neck.
Can Ash have a breakout year? Who will be the breakout guy on defense?
With the season starting Sept. 1 at home against Wyoming, here are some players ready to break out for Texas in 2012.
Steve Edmond, LB
Emmanuel Acho is gone. Steve Edmond will look to fill in the holes at linebacker.
Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE
Steve Edmond has big shoes to fill with Emmanuel Acho gone.
Fortunately for Texas, Edmond is a big boy. At 6’3” and 255 pounds, Edmond is a big body to anchor the linebacking unit.
He was rated the fourth-best interior linebacker in his 2011 class, and this could be the year he shows off those skills.
A two-time all-state selection in Texas from Daingerfield High, he has garnered attention this offseason. He was named to the third-team all-Big 12 defense by Athlon Magazine.
Edmond played in 12 games last season and made 16 tackles (13 solo). He forced one fumble.
Jordan Hicks, LB
Jordan Hicks enters his junior season on the Lombardi Watch list.
Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESS
Jordan Hicks is a junior linebacker with 25 career games and eight starts.
Longhorn fans know who he is from his 2010 Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors, but the nation might know his name by the end of this campaign.
Hicks recorded 65 tackles last season (31 solo), including four tackles for loss. Those are pretty solid numbers for the 6’2” 235-pound West Chester, Ohio native.
Hicks’ junior season could be even better. Hicks was named to the 2012 Lombardi Award List, proving he warrants national attention.
In defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s first season, the Longhorns ranked first in the conference in rushing, pass and total defense.
How much can Hicks improve with another season under Diaz’s tutelage?
Jaxon Shipley, WR
Jaxon Shipley needs a consistent QB to breakout in 2012.
Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESS
Shipley is a well-known name in college football. He's even more popular in Texas, but that is largely due to Jaxon’s older brother, Jordan.
Jaxon has the task of becoming another dynamic Texas receiver, and, even tougher, getting out from the shadow his brother left behind.
Jordan had the luxury of a talented quarterback. Jaxon doesn’t seem to have that luxury...yet.
As a freshman, Jaxon played in 10 games with five starts. He had 44 receptions for 607 yards and three touchdowns.
The Brownwood High product has proven he can put together big games. Against Iowa State, Jaxon had six catches for 149 yards and a score. Against Oklahoma, he had a career-high nine receptions.
If Texas can solidify their quarterback situation, Jaxon could garner the attention his older brother once received.
Johnathan Gray, RB
The nation's top RB recruit joins a talented Longhorn backfield.
Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE
The Shipley bloodlines may bleed burnt orange, but the Gray bloodlines run with football in them.
Freshman running back Johnathan Gray is the son of James Gray.
James was an All-American running back at Texas Tech in the late 1980s and was drafted by the New England Patriots. Enter Johnathan to the Big 12 family tradition.
It's tough to say "finally" for Gray, but, for Texas fans, the season opener may not come soon enough. Eyes will be fixed on the highly-touted recruit.
Gray joins a talented Texas backfield that includes sophomores Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron. The trio could be one of the most talented, and deepest, in college football.
If Brown rides the “hot hand” this season, Gray could work his way into a significant role in the offense.
The three RBs are expected to split carries.
Gray was the nation’s top running back recruit and is a valuable addition to the Texas offense that has struggled to find an identity through the air.
The Aledo, Texas native is the only player to win Mr. Football USA by ESPNHS twice. Expectations and talent are abundant for this kid.
He rushed for nearly 11,000 yards in his high school career and he looks to carry those results to the Longhorns.
A few big runs and strong performances early in the season could poise Gray for a breakout number of carries and a big stat line.
David Ash/Case McCoy, QB
Whoever is the starting QB for Texas will benefit from a strong running back trio and talented offensive line.
Brendan Maloney-US PRESSWIRE
David Ash was named starter for the Longhorns’ season opener against Wyoming. That should be a solid indicator of the type of season Texas is in for.
Expect a steady dose of the run game, but this may be the best opportunity for Ash to show off his passing abilities.
Wyoming’s pass defense isn’t comparable to most Big 12 pass defenses.
Games this early in the season are meant to be confidence boosters.
Wyoming won’t be easy. The Cowboys are a proud football program and embrace the opportunity to knock off a team like Texas.
If David Ash is the starter for the entire season is unknown. Texas needs a consistent quarterback.
One of the best rushing attacks in the country, another year of experience at wide receiver and four returning offensive linemen suggest that whoever is quarterback will be able to play a much more relaxed game.
Relaxed and confident could set the Texas quarterbacks up for a breakout season.