Texas' first season under head coach Steve Sarkisian did not go according to plan. Ranked 21st in the preseason AP Top 25 poll, the Longhorns lost their second game on the road to Arkansas and then stumbled through a six-game losing streak in Big 12 play to finish 5-7 overall (3-6 in conference) and miss out on a bowl game.
The good news is the poor on-field results didn't seem to impact Sarkisian's recruiting efforts as he landed the No. 5 class in the entire country, according to the 247Sports Composite. That's the highest recruiting ranking for Texas since 2019 (third). And it also doesn’t include the arrival of the No. 1 overall recruit a year ago, who has come to Austin via transfer.
Sarkisian and the coaching staff have added a new crop of incoming freshmen and some other fresh faces in hopes of quickly turning things around on the field. Here are some names that could play a big part in this effort.
Quinn Ewers, QB
Ewers passed on his senior year of high school at Texas prep powerhouse Southlake Carroll and was the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2021 class, according to the 247Sports Composite. Ewers signed with Ohio State, taking full advantage of the new name, image and likeness (NIL) rules in the process. Ewers didn't see a single snap for the Buckeyes last season, and with Heisman Trophy finalist C.J. Stroud entrenched as the starter, he opted to transfer back to his home state in December.
Ewers won't just be handed the job with redshirt freshman Hudson Card having the edge in experience (two starts in 2021) and incoming true freshman Maalik Murphy also in the picture (see below). But the expectation is that Ewers will get every opportunity to claim the No. 1 spot and get a chance to showcase why he was so highly sought-after coming out of high school.
Devon Campbell and Kelvin Banks, OL
Offense is Steve Sarkisian's calling card and while Texas put up decent numbers in 2021, there's always room for improvement. And that starts up front, as the Longhorns gave up 27 sacks, ranking them seventh in the Big 12 in that category. That's one of the reasons why the 2022 recruiting class includes seven offensive linemen, a group that's highlighted by Campbell and Banks.
Both are top-10 overall prospects in the state of Texas with Campbell the top offensive lineman in the entire 2022 class and No. 10 overall. Banks is third at his position (tackle) and No. 33 overall. Both already measure in at 6-foot-3 or taller and 300-plus pounds and appear to fill a major need for the Longhorns. It wouldn't be a surprise to see one or both on the field sooner rather than later this fall.
Terrance Brooks, CB
After the two offensive linemen, Brooks is the highest-rated recruit in Texas' 2022 class. A 4-star from Dallas-area Little Elm, Brooks is a top-10 recruit at his position and a top-100 overall prospect. He enrolled early giving him a chance to impress the coaching staff during spring practice. The Longhorns could certainly use more big plays out of their secondary after recording just seven interceptions in 12 games last season.
Jahleel Billingsley, TE
After three years at Alabama, Billingsley transferred to Texas looking for a bigger role. A 4-star prospect and one of the top tight ends in the 2019 class, Billingsley caught 37 passes for 559 yards and six touchdowns in 36 games for the Crimson Tide. Sarkisian is already familiar with Billingsley from his tenure as Alabama's offensive coordinator (2019-20), so expect him to find ways to incorporate the large (6-4, 230) target right away.
Maalik Murphy, QB
While the bulk of the attention is on the arrival of Quinn Ewers, Murphy can't be completely overlooked. A 4-star Southern California product (Junipero Serra in Gardena), Murphy enrolled early so he can compete with Ewers and Hudson Card for the starting quarterback job. Murphy ended his high school career by throwing for 2,954 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2021.