Texas freshman defender among top first-year impact players

The Texas Longhorns defense will have a different feel next season without Byron Murphy, T’Vondre Sweat, Jaylan Ford, and Ryan Watts on the squad. Each one was selected in the 2024 NFL draft.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian and the coaching staff addressed several key spots in recruiting and the transfer portal. However, which newcomer will make an instant impact on Pete Kwiatkowski’s defense?

According to Chris Hummer of CBS Sports and 247Sports, the impact freshman to watch is five-star edge defender Colin Simmons.

“Like Anthony Hill a year ago, there’s going to be a role on the defense for Simmons this fall.” Hummer continued, “Simmons is the type of edge-rushing talent Texas has not had in years (Longhorn hasn’t posted more than six sacks in a season since 2018). Simmons has that type of potential and flashed it this spring. He’ll battle with UTSA transfer Trey Moore for playing time but you can bet Simmons will be springing into attack mode come third downs.”

According to 247Sports 2024 composite rankings, Simmons was the No. 18 overall player and No. 2 edge rusher in the country. The Duncanville product was rated as the No. 5 player in the Lone Star State.

As a team, the Longhorns averaged 2.3 sacks per game and 32 overall. Both were second in the Big 12 behind only the West Virginia Mountaineers. Comparing those numbers to the SEC, Texas would have been No. 7 overall and 10 in sacks per game.

The defense needed to emphasize their pass rush heading into their first season in the SEC. The team added standout freshman Simmons and UTEP edge rusher Trey Moore. Moore set a school record with 14 sacks and 17.5 TFLs.

Edge rusher Ethan Burke led the team with 5.5 sacks returns in 2024. He will be joined at the Jack linebacker spot by Barryn Sorrell, who finished with 4 sacks.

This unit is worth keeping an eye on in the 2024 season that kicks off against the Colorado State Rams in Week 1 before they are tested against the defending national champion Michigan Wolverines in Week 2.

Story originally appeared on Longhorns Wire