3 Texas football players who should be replaced on the depth chart in 2024

The roster is in good shape for Texas football and head coach Steve Sarkisian entering the SEC for the 2024 season. The competition for spots on the two-deep during the spring can continue to flush out the roster while the young and talented players this staff signed on the recruiting trail in the last couple years step up into bigger roles.

Michael Taaffe, Texas football
Michael Taaffe, Texas football / Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
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After outperforming expectations with a College Football Playoff berth and a Big 12 Championship in 2023, Texas football has set a high standard for itself in the SEC in 2024. Head coach Steve Sarkisian has undergone a process to keep Texas among the top contenders in college football entering their first year of competition in the SEC this upcoming season.

Sarkisian and the Longhorns staff will return over half of their starters from last year's squad in 2024. In some of the spots on the roster where the Longhorns lost key pieces, the staff turned to the NCAA Transfer Portal to add immediate impact starters.

Texas football has successfully reloaded the roster entering the SEC in 2024

Texas also has a record number of early enrollees (18) from the 2024 signing class who will participate in spring ball. Among those 18 early enrollees are many talented former blue-chip recruits who can make an instant impact this upcoming season.

It's easy to see why Sarkisian and the Longhorns are expected to be a contender in the SEC and for the new 12-team College Football Playoff in 2024. Texas is developing players more consistently and putting more guys in the NFL year-over-year under Sarkisian in the last couple of years than it did in the prior under under the last few coaching regimes.

Part of the growth of this program is younger and more talented players eclipsing the more seasoned veterans on the depth chart with more earned reps in camp and practice. Texas had multiple true freshmen make an immediate impact in 2023. And that trend is likely to continue when the Longhorns enter the SEC in 2024.

Here are three Longhorns players who could be eclipsed on the depth chart in 2024.

Michael Taaffe, S

Much of Texas's efforts to reload the roster early this offseason have concentrated on moving this secondary into a new era entering the SEC in 2024. Texas signed the best defensive back class in the nation in 2024 in the 247Sports Composite. And the Longhorns added a big-time DB to upgrade the secondary in former Clemson Tigers junior safety Andrew Mukuba via the portal.

Texas added seven new scholarship players to the secondary in 2024.

Consequentially, Texas lost multiple safeties with starting experience to the transfer portal. Senior safety Jerrin Thompson, senior Kitan Crawford, and senior Jalen Catalon all left the program to find more playing time elsewhere via the transfer portal this offseason.

Since Texas lost three safeties who started multiple games last season, only two are left on the roster who started any games in 2023. Rising redshirt junior Michael Taaffe and sophomore Derek Williams Jr. are the only returning players at safety who started a game last season for Texas.

Williams made a big impact for Texas as the team's best cover safety last season. He's expected to be a potential All-SEC performer for Texas as a staple of the safety position in 2024. Horns247 tabbed Williams as the emerging leader to watch for Texas at safety entering winter workouts this offseason.

Meanwhile, Taaffe was among the steadier presences at safety for Texas last season. While he does have limitations athletically compared to other highly touted safeties on the roster, such as freshman early enrollee Xavier Filsaime and Williams, Taaffe was an important contributor who always knew where to be for Texas in the last couple of years.

What could ultimately lead to Taaffe losing snaps entering the 2024 season compared to the previous two seasons at Texas is the return of senior defensive back Jahdae Barron for a fifth year. Barron was arguably Texas's best defensive back last season and their best and most versatile cover guy.

What Barron's return for the 2024 season means for Taaffe is that Mukuba could move over to safety instead of playing at nickel this fall. The original plan for Mukuba when Texas got him from the portal was to assume the starting reps at nickel. But that plan assumed Barron wouldn't be returning for another year with the Longhorns in 2024.