Texas Football: 3 players the Longhorns must retain from the portal in 2023

Jaylan Ford, Texas football
Jaylan Ford, Texas football /
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Ryan Watts, Texas football
Ryan Watts, Texas football /

Ryan Watts, CB

Texas hasn’t landed as big of an impact player on the defensive side of the ball out of the transfer portal than the former Ohio State Buckeyes redshirt sophomore cornerback Ryan Watts in the last few years. Watts was a revelation for the Longhorns, as he completely transformed the production that Pete Kwiatkowski and Terry Joseph were getting out of the boundary corner spot.

Watts was able to shut down some of the better Big 12 boundary receivers throughout the regular season. He finished up the regular season as one of the three highest-graded boundary corners in the Big 12.

The way that Watts was able to limit the effectiveness of some of the most potent outside receivers in the Big 12 during the regular season was able to let PK’s defense flow more freely in all phases. Texas didn’t have to worry too much about providing safety help over the top on the boundary.

Thus, the extra safety was allowed to focus solely on preventing deep plays while helping out in run defense.

It goes without saying that Watts was an important piece to the secondary this fall. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Watts was the most important corner for the Longhorns this year.

He is set to be an integral part of the secondary in 2023.

But given how good Watts was this season, and the special physical tools he brings to the table at 6-foot-3 and 210-pounds, I’m sure he is going to get attention from other Power Five programs that try to get him to enter the portal. And there are probably some NFL prospects that Watts has entering the offseason.

Although, I’d imagine it would be best for Watts and the Longhorns both to have one more good run together in 2023. If Watts can continue to improve next fall, that would go a long way to continue to boost his draft stock to the NFL while helping Texas get closer to an appearance in the Big 12 Championship Game.