Texas Football: 3 freshmen that will breakout for Horns in Week 1 vs. Rice

CJ Baxter Jr., Texas football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
CJ Baxter Jr., Texas football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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Anthony Hill Jr., Texas football
Anthony Hill Jr., Texas football. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

With Texas football and head coach Steve Sarkisian facing an overmatched Rice Owls team to open up the regular season at home at DKR on Sep. 2, we will probably see a heavy dose of reps going to the true freshmen. Texas is a 35-point favorite over Rice, and it feels like the game could get much more lopsided than that five-score margin Vegas is predicting this weekend.

Sark and the Longhorns hold the matchup advantage on paper over Rice at just about every position group on both sides of the ball. Texas has a sizable edge in terms of size, power, and athleticism in the trenches, which could open this game up early in the first half.

Breakout true freshmen to watch for Texas football in Week 1 vs. Rice

If Texas does get up early on Rice, Sark and this staff won’t hesitate to get the younger players further down the depth chart reps in the opener. Texas wants to take advantage of the opportunities against Rice and the Wyoming Cowboys in two weeks to get valuable live-game reps to the younger players.

Here’s a look at three true freshmen bound to break out for the Longhorns against Rice in Week 1.

Anthony Hill Jr., LB

This is probably the easiest answer among the true freshmen on the Texas defense that could break out in a big way this weekend. True freshman linebacker/hybrid pass rusher and former five-star recruit Anthony Hill Jr. will see a heavy dose of defensive snaps against Rice.

Pete Kwiatkowski and the Longhorns plan to utilize Hill as a hybrid linebacker/edge rusher this year to help improve the results of the pass rush. Hill’s athleticism, explosiveness, and nose for finding the football and exploding out of a cannon to get there makes him a natural candidate to fill this role of hybrid edge rusher following the departure of senior linebacker DeMarvion Overshown this offseason.

Hill had a tremendous fall camp for the Longhorns, cementing his status on the two-deep and as an early contributor for this defensive front. While he might not be starting at linebacker in Week 1, he will get a starter-level number of defensive snaps.

Hill will feast getting after the quarterback against an overmatched Rice offensive line that ranked bottom three in the Conference-USA last season in pressure rate allowed and sack rate. The fact that Rice starting quarterback and three-time transfer JT Daniels is one of the slower QBs in the FBS adds up to Hill having better opportunities to get home this weekend in the pass rush.

By game’s end, Hill should have at least a couple of QB pressures and potentially the first sack of his collegiate career.