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Texas Football: Predicting the two-deep ahead of spring practice

Spring practice begins on Monday, March 6. The sessions soften the blow of a long offseason without football.

There’s plenty to be excited about on the Forty Acres. Arch Manning, Anthony Hill, Johntay Cook and Malik Muhammad headline the list of newcomers that start their football careers in Austin. Albeit, the 2023 squad features plenty of players that showed promise in past seasons.

Atop the list of premier returnees is redshirt junior linebacker Jaylan Ford. The breakout playmaker earned first-team all conference honors along with a third-team All-American nomination. He will lead a defense that includes transfer safety Jalen Catalon, disruptive defensive tackle T’Vondre Sweat and a high football IQ secondary of Ryan Watts, Jahdae Barron, Jerrin Thompson and Terrance Brooks.

On the other side of the ball, Xavier Worthy returns as the most accomplished returning player. Quinn Ewers looks to take a step forward with an offensive line led by elite tackle Kelvin Banks keeping Ewers upright.

Here’s a look at what the Texas two-deep might look like presently.

Quarterback

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  1. Quinn Ewers, redshirt sophomore

  2. Maalik Murphy, redshirt freshman

In my estimation, the quarterback position is Quinn Ewers’ to lose. It would be shocking if he did lose it. Ewers flashed brilliance in the team’s two highest profile games last season, Alabama and Oklahoma. If consistent, the Southlake product should pick apart the Longhorns’ scheduled 2023 opponents.

Lead Back

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  1. Jonathon Brooks, redshirt sophomore

  2. Cedric Baxter, freshman

Jonathon Brooks adjusted quickly to the college game despite unfounded worries about his lack of high school competition. Cedric Baxter is talented enough to push for the top spot. Texas is in good hands with either back.

Spot back

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  1. Keilan Robinson, senior

  2. Jaydon Blue, sophomore

Both running backs would need to pack on plenty of muscle to take the bell cow role, but they add value as speedy, change-of-pace ball carriers.

Wide receiver

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  1. Xavier Worthy, Jordan Whittington, Isaiah Neyor

  2. AD Mitchell, Johntay Cook, Casey Cain

This depth chart will likely be fluid as Texas has an abundance of game-changing receivers on the roster. Whittington will start the spring with more benefit of the doubt as a third-year starter.

Tom Herman once platooned at the position without the requisite talent. Steve Sarkisian has enough talent to alternate drives or go with five receiver sets.

Tight end

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  1. Ja’Tavion Sanders, redshirt sophomore

  2. Gunner Helm, junior

Texas has its best tight end since Jermichael Finley. Expect Steve Sarkisian to come up with ways to get him the football.

Left Tackle

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  1. Kelvin Banks, sophomore

  2. Neto Umeozulu, redshirt freshman

Texas has a potential 2025 No. 1 overall pick in Kelvin Banks. He’s just the tip of the iceberg when discussing one of the program’s best offensive line rooms of all time.

Left Guard

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  1. Hayden Connor, redshirt sophomore

  2. Malik Agbo, redshirt freshman

Hayden Connor has become one of the more reliable leaders on the Texas offensive line. Agbo joins Neto Umeozulu as reason to get excited about future Longhorns offensive lines.

Center

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  1. Jake Majors, redshirt junior

  2. Connor Robertson, redshirt freshman

Jake Majors vastly improved last season after packing on pounds to his frame. Look for more continuity as he returns to start for a third season.

Right Guard

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  1. Cole Hutson, sophomore

  2. DJ Campbell, sophomore

Hudson seized the starting role with a strong Spring last offseason. He never relinquished the role having a strong freshman season. DJ Campbell will likely see playing time at multiple positions even if he doesn’t take a starting spot.

Right Tackle

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  1. Christian Jones, redshirt senior

  2. Cameron Williams, redshirt freshman

Christian Jones far exceeded my expectations looking like an NFL right tackle in 2022. He returns giving Texas all five starting linemen from last season. Cam Williams, like DJ Campbell, is game ready should an opportunity present itself.

Interior defensive line

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  1. T’Vondre Sweat, Byron Murphy

  2. Vernon Broughton, Alfred Collins

The talent is present with multiple players who have flashed playmaking ability. The issue will be consistency. The two players that present the most consistent efforts will take starting roles.

Edge

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  1. Barryn Sorrell, Justice Finkley

  2. Ethan Burke, J’Mond Tapp

Barryn Sorrell broke out last season. Finkley could be the breakout player for 2023.

Linebacker

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  1. Jaylan Ford, Anthony Hill, Morice Blackwell

  2. Jett Bush, David Gbenda, Tausili Akana

Ford and Hill should be one of the better tandems in the Big 12 conference, with Morice Blackwell or Tausili Akana playing situationally. Texas needs Gbenda and Bush to make strides over the offseason.

Cornerback

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  1. Ryan Watts, Jahdae Barron, Terrance Brooks

  2. Malik Muhammad, Jaylon Guilbeau, Gavin Holmes

Jahdae Barron and Ryan Watts are the two most proven players of the group. While Gavin Holmes will have every opportunity to win the field corner job, Terrance Brooks looked like a potential star at cornerback at the end of the season.

Safety

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  1. Jalen Catalon, Jerrin Thompson

  2. Derek Williams, Kitan Crawford

Jalen Catalon will see most of the shine, but Jerrin Thompson has become a great player for Texas. The addition of Catalon means there are no glaring weaknesses at any starting position. For the first time in awhile, the Longhorns are stocked at nearly every position.

Story originally appeared on Longhorns Wire