Texas Football: 4 pleasant surprises for Longhorns from first half

Jonathon Brooks, Texas football
Jonathon Brooks, Texas football /
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Malik Muhammad, Texas football
Malik Muhammad, Texas football /

Malik Muhammad, CB

Another standout true freshman for the Longhorns this season is cornerback Malik Muhammad. The former high-four-star recruit out of South Oak Cliff High School in Dallas, TX, has stepped up in a big way for the secondary this fall.

Muhammad has immediately stepped into a bigger role at corner than initially anticipated. He’s taken starter-level reps at cornerback in the first half of the season, especially in Big 12 play. Muhammad is tied with redshirt junior boundary corner Ryan Watts for the second-most coverage snaps among cornerbacks this season (118). Only sophomore Terrance Brooks has taken more coverage snaps among Texas corners than Muhammad and Watts this season.

Despite being in his first year in college, Muhammad shows instincts, maturity, and physicality well beyond his experience level. His versatility, physicality, and maturity allow Pete Kwiatkowski and the Longhorns to play him at both corner spots in live-game scenarios as a true freshman.

Need more proof of the impact Muhammad has made on Texas’ secondary this season? Look at his defensive grade among the true freshmen on the team.

Muhammad leads all Texas true freshmen in defensive grade in the first half of the regular season. He’s put up solid numbers this season, outside of a couple of slip-ups playing at boundary corner in place of the injured Watts in Red River last weekend against Oklahoma.

In coverage this season, Muhammad was targeted 15 times, resulting in 134 yards on 11 catches. He’s broken up two passes and hasn’t allowed any touchdowns. Muhammad also hasn’t allowed a single catch of 30 yards or more this season.

The two biggest stats are the zero touchdowns and zero catches of 30 yards or more allowed this season. That shows Muhammad is doing well, keeping the play in front of him and standing tall when it matters in coverage in the red zone.