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

Jaylan Ford, Texas football
Jaylan Ford, Texas football /
3 of 3
Jaylan Ford, Texas football Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
Jaylan Ford, Texas football Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports /

Jaylan Ford, LB

There wasn’t any other defensive player more important to the Longhorns during the regular season than the breakout junior linebacker Jaylan Ford.

For his efforts during the regular season, Ford was one of the two Longhorns players selected to The Athletic’s 2022 college football All-America Teams. Ford was a Second-Team linebacker for The Athletic’s All-America Teams this year. And the other inclusion among Longhorns players was star junior running back Bijan Robinson, who was a First-Team selection.

Moreover, Ford made an impact on just about every phase of the Texas defense in a positive sense during the regular season. He was a turnover and tackling machine that was able to quickly diagnose plays and seemingly be all over the place at once for the Longhorns.

Ford finished up the regular season with a whopping 109 combined tackles (second in the Big 12), 10 tackles for loss, two sacks, four interceptions, two pass breakups, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.

Since Ford was so impactful on this Texas defense during the regular season, his NFL Draft stock obviously skyrocketed. It sounds like Ford would have a real shot of going as a late day-two or day-three pick if he were to declare early for the 2023 NFL Draft. Whereas before, Ford would’ve almost certainly gone undrafted had he declared for the 2023 draft with the stock he had coming into the 2022 season.

dark. Next. 5 underclassmen that could opt out of the Alamo Bowl

While I don’t think that Ford will ultimately declare early for the NFL Draft, that is still on the table for him entering the offseason. And as is the case with Barron and Watts, Ford definitely played well enough that other teams are going to try to throw big-time NIL offers his way to get him to enter the portal.

But it goes without saying that Ford is a key piece for this defense in 2023. I think this staff will do more than enough to keep him around for next season.