Starter: Terrance Brooks (SO)
Backup: Gavin Holmes (RS-JR)
The deepest position on defense for the Longhorns heading into the season is the secondary, specifically the cornerbacks. Corner talent and depth are the best it’s been on the Forty Acres, arguably in the last decade.
Field corner has two starting-caliber DBs still vying for starting reps heading into the season. Sophomore Terrance Brooks is the favorite to be the starter at field corner in Week 1 against Rice. But redshirt junior Gavin Holmes will get a heavy dose of defensive snaps at field corner this fall despite the fierce competition with so many talented guys.
Brooks is the more well-rounded of the top two field corners. But Holmes is the fastest and most reliable corner defending the deep ball.
Starter: Jerrin Thompson (SR)
Backup: Derek Williams (FR)
The quarterback of the secondary is senior field safety Jerrin Thompson. With over 1,500 defensive snaps in his career at Texas, Thompson is one of the most experienced players on this side of the ball this year.
Two safeties are vying for backup reps at the field spot heading into the season. True freshman and former five-star recruit Derek Williams has the highest upside of the potential backup options at field safety. Senior Kitan Crawford is another option with more experience than Williams at field safety.
Starter: Jalen Catalon (RS-SR)
Backup: Michael Taaffe (RS-SO)
As long as he stays healthy this season, the most impactful transfer addition on defense for the Longhorns is the former Arkansas Razorbacks All-American senior safety Jalen Catalon. Catalon gave the Longhorns great reps throughout training camp as the first-team boundary safety.
Texas has a reliable and consistent backup at boundary safety this season behind Catalon in former walk-on and redshirt sophomore Michael Taaffe.
Starter: Ryan Watts (RS-JR)
Backup: Malik Muhammad (FR)
Boundary corner is stacked with talent and depth, like field corner, heading into the season. Starting at boundary corner is the lengthy and formidable 6-foot-3 redshirt junior Ryan Watts. If Watts has another productive and consistent season at boundary corner for Texas this year, he’ll solidify himself as a possible mid-round 2024 NFL Draft pick.
Backing up Watts at boundary corner is true freshman Malik Muhammad. Emerging as one of the true playmakers in the secondary at cornerback, Muhammad forced multiple turnovers in the two fall scrimmages the last two weekends.
Starter: Jahdae Barron (SR)
Backup: Austin Jordan (SO) OR Jaylon Guilbeau (SO)
Another of Texas’ best defensive players heading into the season is senior nickel Jahdae Barron. The fourth-year DB Barron can do it all for the Longhorns. He’s sticky in coverage, great at contesting space, and very assignment-sound/great at finding the ball carrier in run defense.
Sophomore Austin Jordan cross-trained at nickel and corner in camp this offseason. He’ll compete with sophomore Jaylon Guilbeau for the backup job at nickel heading into the season.