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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Juan Davis, Texas football
Juan Davis, Texas football / Mikala Compton/Austin American-Statesman

Juan Davis, TE

Tight end was a position of need that TE coach Jeff Banks and the Longhorns addressed in the transfer portal early this offseason. Rising junior tight end Amari Niblack was one of many Alabama departures following the retirement of Nick Saban earlier this month that were snagged via the portal.

Niblack was Alabama's top receiving tight end in 2023, playing many of his snaps on offense out of the slot or out wide. He can replace what Texas is losing with the departure of All-Big 12 junior Ja'Tavion Sanders.

Niblack is expected to be the top receiving tight end threat while rising senior Gunnar Helm gives Texas's offense a reliable blocking tight end who can also contribute in the passing game.

The addition of Niblack was a necessary move for Sarkisian, Banks, and the Longhorns to prevent any significant drop off in the passing offense after the loss of Sanders to the NFL Draft this offseason.

Outside of Helm and Niblack, Texas doesn't have any tight ends on the roster in 2024 with any meaningful live-game reps at the collegiate level. The bulk of the other Texas tight ends, such as redshirt freshman Will Randle, redshirt freshman Spencer Shannon, and early enrollee Jordan Washington, are expected to contribute in the next couple of years as they continue to develop.

But none of those three freshman tight ends have any sort of proven live-game experience.

The only exception to that is rising senior Juan Davis. The fourth-year tight end Davis is the most experienced player for the Longhorns in this position group after Helm and Niblack on the depth chart. Davis does have multiple years of practice and camp reps under his belt in Sarkisian's offense.

He's also taken limited reps in the last few seasons on offense and special teams for Texas.

Davis is the last holdover in this tight end room from the Tom Herman era, other than Helm. The difference between Helm and Davis is that the former of those two tight ends earned a role as a blocking tight end and made an impact in live-game scenarios for the Longhorns as a blocker and a receiver in the last couple of years.

Davis always had the tools necessary to become a receiving tight end threat in this offense. But he's been consistently buried on the depth chart at tight end as Sarkisian and Banks have brought in new tight ends to fill specific roles in the mould this staff wants for the future of this position group.

Earlier this offseason, Davis had a quick saga where he entered the transfer portal and promptly withdrew his name, all in the same day. We'll see what happens with Davis entering the spring after Texas added four scholarship tight ends in the last two recruiting cycles via the high school ranks and the portal.

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