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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David Gbenda, Texas football
David Gbenda, Texas football / Aaron E. Martinez-USA TODAY Sports

David Gbenda, LB

Texas's linebacker room is in pretty good shape entering the 2024 offseason. This position group returns key contributors from last season, including Freshman All-American Anthony Hill Jr., junior Morice Blackwell Jr., and super senior David Gbenda.

The Longhorns also got some valuable experience and depth at linebacker via the portal with the addition of the former Alabama Crimson Tide junior Kendrick Blackshire. The 6-foot-2 and 245-pound Blackshire brings some much-needed size to the middle linebacker position for the Longhorns in the SEC in 2024.

The only big loss Texas experienced at linebacker this offseason is All-American senior Jaylan Ford. But Ford entering the NFL Draft this spring was expected. Texas has prepared for this with the development of rising sophomore Liona Lefau, who is expected to compete for the starting job at mike linebacker this spring.

There is somewhat of a youth movement occurring at the linebacker position for co-DC's/LB coaches Pete Kwiatkowski, Johnny Nansen, and the Longhorns this offseason. Hill is a future early-round NFL Draft pick who will lead this group into the SEC in 2024.

Hill had already surpassed Gbenda on the depth chart at will linebacker late last season. After Gbenda started the season's first eight games, Hill started five of the final six. Expect Hill to assume that starting spot for good in 2024.

Lefau also has the potential to be an all-conference caliber starter at mike linebacker for multiple years for the Longhorns.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the impact Blackwell has on this defensive front at sam linebacker. Blackwell gives the Longhorns the versatility. He's a combination of a cover linebacker, thanks to his experience at safety before converting positions a couple of years ago, and a hard-hitting defender who can sniff out the ball carrier and contest space comfortably.

But spots on the two-deep aren't guaranteed at linebacker for anyone outside of maybe Hill at the weakside position. Everyone has to earn their spots, even the upperclassmen at linebacker, in camp.

Texas has multiple young former blue-chip recruits from the 2023 class who will be expected to push for spots on the two-deep this year, namely redshirt freshman Derion Gullette, Tausili Akana, and S'Maje Burrell.

Texas's combination of proven experience with upperclassmen like Gbenda and Blackshire along with the emerging underclassmen shows that the linebacker room is in good shape now and in the future.