After their big win over the Georgia Bulldogs in the Sugar Bowl, the Texas Longhorns will likely start the 2019 season in the top 10 of the major polls. They might end up as a popular pick to end up in the College Football Playoff.
If the Horns are going to live up to those lofty expectations, they will need a number of the fresh faces on campus to step up right away. The losses from the 2018 team are significant.
Here are five newcomers to Texas’ team to keep an eye on in the fall.
De’Gabriel Floyd, LB
Inside linebackers Gary Johnson and Anthony Wheeler finished first and second on the team in tackles last year with a combined 177 stops. Neither returns this season, creating a massive void on the second line of the UT defense.
In the past, the Longhorns rarely ventured out to California in recruiting. Floyd, a blue-chip prospect out of Westlake Village, could make some noise at linebacker as an early enrollee.
Caleb Johnson, LB
Much like Floyd, Johnson has a chance to step into the breach right away this spring at LB. At 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, the junior college transfer out of Fullerton (Calif.) Community College has the size to hold up physically.
Can he play pass coverage well enough to handle the spread attacks of the Big 12? The answer to that question might determine how much playing time he sees in the fall.
Jacoby Jones, DE
Jones is joining the Texas program this semester after a stint at Butler (Kan.) Community College. The Longhorns are counting on the four-star defensive end to make an impact right away. The departures of productive defensive ends Charles Omenihu and Breckyn Hager loom large for the upcoming season.
Bru McCoy, WR
A five-star athlete, McCoy bears watching just to see how his case with the NCAA plays out. Despite signing a letter of intent with USC, McCoy jilted the Trojans within days of starting classes. His stint with the Trojans lasted about as long as the tenure of Kliff Kingsbury, who was the team’s offensive coordinator for a matter of weeks before taking the head coaching job of the Arizona Cardinals.
In light of Kingsbury’s departure, McCoy’s situation will test the NCAA’s newfound permissiveness in granting hardship waivers for transfers.
Jordan Whittington, WR
Finding a replacement for a physical receiver like Lil’Jordan Humphrey will be a chore. Whittington lacks Humphrey’s measurables, but his range of skills means he can play a variety of roles in the UT receiving corps. Importantly, he could give junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger a new go-to target on third down.
— 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.