Texas Football: Incoming Freshmen Most Likely to Start
David Ash's progress toward a clean bill of health decrease the chances that we will see Jerrod Heard start a game in 2014, but the 4-star recruit is far from the only incoming Longhorn that could run with the first team.
"[Ash]'s not all the way back, but he's out there competing," a source told 247Sports.com's Jeff Howe. "He's throwing a little bit and looking good. He looks like he's going to be fine."
The health of Texas' fourth-year quarterback improves the outlook for the Longhorns and fans who are willing to wait for a little while on Heard. That said, it's too early to completely rule out seeing the future start as a freshman.
And for fans who are eager to get a look at Heard's 2014 classmates, there are three others with a chance to start in their first season on campus, listed in order most likely to least.
S/OLB Edwin Freeman
A bit of a tweener at 6'0" and 210 pounds, Freeman brings range and a violent streak to the defensive side of the ball. That all lends itself nicely to the hybrid role in Strong's 3-3-5 defense, where he will need a physical presence to compensate for sieves Mykkele Thompson and Josh Turner.
Though he will have to beat out Demarco Cobbs, Freeman is the only freshman with a clear path to getting starter's snaps in any role. A lot needs to go right for the other members of this list to do the same.
S John Bonney
Though not as physically gifted as Freeman, safety John Bonney also has a good chance of breaking into the starting lineup if he can excel this offseason.
They've performed well this offseason, but that doesn't change the fact that Thompson and Turner are starters by default. Adrian Colbert has yet to live up to his potential, and redshirt freshman Chevoski Collins still has some catching up to do.
Bonney is a pure safety, so his knowledge of the position should set him apart early. The Longhorns will need that if Thompson and/or Turner revert to their old ways, and the 6'0" safety should be the next man up in that scenario.
QB Jerrod Heard
Ash may be on the right track, but we should know better than to trust his health when he's not taking hits. That, along with Tyrone Swoopes' unpolished passing skills, means the door is still open for Heard to start as a freshman.
Though the report says that Ash has been participating in seven-on-sevens, it also notes that Heard and Swoopes have been the ones splitting most of the reps. After Heard spent an offseason working out with renowned quarterback coach George Whitfield, you have to believe he's already making his presence felt.
If Heard shows that he can throw a better ball than Swoopes, he's going to be named Ash's backup. And because Strong has already said that he will give Heard a chance to start, being elevated to the second string makes him one play away.
WR Lorenzo Joe
Armanti Foreman is Texas' top-rated recruit at the receiver position, but he will have to battle guys like Daje Johnson and Jacorey Warrick for work out of the slot. The Longhorns need size more than anything in the passing game, which is why Lorenzo Joe is a name to watch this offseason.
At almost 6'3" and 200 pounds, Joe is bigger than all three projected starters: Jaxon Shipley, Marcus Johnson and Kendall Sanders. And without a reliable pass-catching tight end, that kind of size will be appreciated when Texas gets down in the red zone, where it scored touchdowns on only 24 of its 42 trips in 2013.
Foreman will have a role no matter what, but Joe is a big offseason away from busting his way up the depth chart.
Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting data courtesy of 247Sports.com.