Recruiting season is over and the University of Texas football team has signed it’s 2014 football recruiting class. Where on the roster are the freshman most likely to make an impact? Hook’em Headlines looks at three spots where a season one impact is most likely.
3. Kick Returner/Special Teams
Charlie Strong signed a number of wide receivers and cornerbacks in this class, but the Longhorns are already returning a lot of depth there. One place where freshman could make an instant impact is in the return game.
Duties in the return game were shared last season by Quandre Diggs, Kendall Sanders, and Marcus Johnson. All three are expected to have increased roles from scrimmage this year, which could open up the return job to one of four skill guys signed by Texas this offseason: DB Edwin Freeman, RB Donald Catalon, WR Armanti Foreman, or WR Lorenzo Joe. Anyone who isn’t going to be a major contributor on special teams is likely headed for a redshirt season, given Texas’ depth.
Although Texas did not sign a kicker, there is absolutely an opportunity for a walk on or transfer to come in and win the kicking or punting jobs held by Anthony Fera last season.
Senior David Ash is the starting quarterback at Texas, and there is at least a chance that Max Wittek will come to UT in the fall. But behind Ash the quarterback position his highly unsettled, and it is hard to tell what the Longhorn’s future at the position is by glancing at the roster.
Would it be wise for the coaches to give up the redshirt season on Freshman QB Jerrod Heard, and try to get him prepared to be the starter in 2015? That depends on a number of factors, including the saga of Wittek. But the last time Charlie Strong played a QB extensively as a freshman, he turned into Teddy Bridgewater.
It’s not fair to put that sort of level of expectations on Heard, and it might prove prudent to give him a redshirt year. But QB is one of the obvious places on the roster that isn’t stacked with depth, and Texas could take the opportunity to get a freshman onto the field in 2014.
1. Defensive Line
Can rush passer, will play.
Charlie Strong defenses are known for impactful defensive line play, and it doesn’t seem to matter whether players on the line have ideal size. If you can get after the quarterback you are valuable. And the Texas recruiting effort on this side of the ball focused heavily on pass rusher types. Texas signed DE Derrick Roberson, a 6’3″, 225 LB defensive end who could be the third end as a true freshman. They signed NT Poona Ford, listed at 6’1″, 288, plenty big enough to play as a freshman. They also signed DT Chris Nelson, who is a bit smaller and less heralded than the other two.
With Jackson Jeffcoat departed and Cedric Reed down to his final year of eligibility, this is the need area on the roster. You can fully expect the freshman to play in the fall.