Highly regarded freshmen have a chance to see the field immediately in Austin this season
Texas got back to being Texas this year – on the recruiting trail, at least.
Head coach Tom Herman and his staff reeled in the No. 3 recruiting class in the country for 2018, according to the 247Sports Composite Team Rankings. The 27 signees in the class include 19 players rated as four- or five-star prospects.
Key newcomers to watch this season primarily play on the defensive side of the ball, although one may eventually become the Longhorns’ backfield bell cow by the end of the year.
Keaontay Ingram, RB
The Longhorns slogged through last season with zero pop at running back, averaging 3.6 yards per rushing attempt (110th nationally). Their most effective running threat might have been quarterback Sam Ehlinger fleeing a collapsing pocket.
With Chris Warren III leaving the program, undistinguished running backs Toneil Carter, Kyle Porter and Daniel Young are vying for carries. Ingram could work his way up the depth chart quickly as the most naturally gifted runner on Texas’ roster.
Ayodele Adeoye, LB
Big 12 co-defensive player of the year Malik Jefferson left the Longhorns early for the NFL draft – and took his 110 tackles from 2017 with him. That creates a huge void in an otherwise solid UT defense.
Adeoye, a four-star recruit out of IMG Academy, might be a second-team linebacker as soon as he sets foot on Texas’ campus. Standing between him and a starting spot at middle linebacker will be rising senior Anthony Wheeler. At the very least, Adeoye should earn a spot in the playing rotation early in the season.
Caden Sterns, DB
Texas landed a ludicrously deep group of defensive backs in the 2018 recruiting class. Sterns, a five-star safety while he was at Cibolo Steele High School, is generally considered the crown jewel.
Sterns and the rest of the DBs in this class are walking into an already crowded secondary, even with Holton Hill and DeShon Elliott departing for the NFL ahead of schedule. Sterns might prove too talented to keep off the field, though.
Keondre Coburn, DL
Despite being a longtime commitment to the Longhorns, Coburn made UT sweat out his decision all the way up until the last minute on National Signing Day. Losing out on the blue-chip defensive tackle would have been a major blow to the class. While freshmen typically lack the physical maturity to play immediately on the defensive line, Coburn has the frame to contribute up front this fall. Whether he can actually work his way into the rotation among a solid three-man front for UT is another matter.
Jalen Green, DB
Green faces a situation similar to Sterns. The four-star cornerback has the talent to play as a freshman. However, he will need to navigate through a logjam in the secondary to see the field this fall.
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.