Texas Football: Where Athlon ranked Horns in preseason top 25

The Texas football program was lower on the preseason poll from Athlon Sports this year than most other media outlets have them.

One of the bigger and more anticipated media polls that is released each and every offseason now just dropped from Athlon Sports. In their preseason top 25 for the coming 2020 college football season, Athlon Sports had their slotting of the Texas football program in an interesting place. Texas tends to be a team that is included in the top 15 for most preseason polls this year.

Yet, Athlon didn’t seem to be as high on the Texas Longhorns football program this year as most other media outlets. Athlon ranked the Longhorns at No. 16 in their preseason poll, which was the third highest among all Big 12 teams. The Oklahoma State Cowboys ranked at No. 14 and the Oklahoma Sooners are at No. 4. Oklahoma State ranked about at their normal spot, but Oklahoma was very high on Athlon’s list.

But here’s what Athlon had to say about their placement of the Longhorns in this preseason ranking.

It’s no secret the 2020 season is an important one for Texas coach Tom Herman. After a 10-4 record and a trip to the Sugar Bowl in 2018, the Longhorns regressed to 8-5 last fall. As a result, Herman hit the reset button on his staff, bringing in two new coordinators and five other assistant coaches. Injuries and youth played a role in last season’s record, and with better luck in health and player development, a return to the Big 12 Championship Game isn’t out of the question. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger returns for his senior year after back-to-back standout seasons.

Athlon also discussed the importance of the personnel that’s returning for the Longhorns this fall. Texas has a bevy of talent coming back on both sides of the ball, but there will be ample turnover in the receiving corps. Head coach Tom Herman does have a difficult task facing him replacing the likes of Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay.

Ehlinger won’t have Devin Duvernay or Collin Johnson back on the outside, but the Longhorns have talented playmakers waiting in the wings like Michigan transfer Tarik Black, Brennan Eagles and Jake Smith. Left tackle Sam Cosmi anchors an offensive line with three starters back, while Keaontay Ingram headlines a talented backfield. Improvement on defense is a must for Texas in 2020.

For the most part, the Big 12 was pretty highly touted in this preseason ranking. The Iowa State Cyclones ranked just behind the Longhorns, at No. 17. There was no other Big 12 team ranked in the top 25 beyond Iowa State, the Oklahoma schools, and Texas, though.

And the only other team that the Longhorns are set to face during the regular season schedule this coming season inside Athlon’s top 25 is the defending National Champion LSU Tigers (at No. 8). The teams that rounded out the top three included the Clemson Tigers, Alabama Crimson Tide, and Ohio State Buckeyes (in that order). Clemson, Alabama, and Ohio State were the three other teams that participated in the College Football Playoff alongside LSU last season.

Next: 5 best teams from PAC-12 to consider for Big 12 expansion

Texas finished up the 2019 campaign with a record of 8-5 (5-4 Big 12) after beating the Utah Utes in the Alamo Bowl by a score of 38-10. Following the 2019 season, Herman turned over much of his coaching staff looking for much better results come the 2020 campaign.

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