Texas football: 3 underclassmen poised to breakout in 2024

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3. Colin Simmons, Fr, Edge

I wanted to throw one freshman on this list, and it makes the most sense for that guy to be Colin Simmons.

The Duncanville (TX) product was a consensus five-star recruit ranked as the No. 11 player in the On3 Composite. Simmons was the first five-star EDGE Texas signed since Jackson Jeffcoat in 2010.

There are two reasons why Simmons is likely to be an early-impact player for the Horns. The first is how college-ready of a player he is.

Simmons is listed at 6-3, 225 lbs, and as a spring enrollee, I would expect him to put on another 10-15 pounds before the 2024 season.

He was an absolute game wrecker at Duncanville, winning three state championships during his time in high school while amassing a program-record 22.5 sacks as a junior. Simmons has an incredibly quick get-off with an excellent dip ability to get past opposing tackles.

He is a high-motor player with elite chase-down speed and should be immediately touted around the program as someone who gives that "Jordan Whittington" level of effort.

Aside from what Simmons can do on the field, Texas is still looking for answers at the EDGE position.

Ethan Burke and Barryn Sorrell were the starters in 2023, and while both will be back next fall, the inconsistency of a pass rush will allow guys like Simmons to compete for reps. Burke and Sorrell combined for just seven sacks last season.

The aforementioned starters, as well as Justice Finkley and J'Mond Tapp, showed flashes of elite play, but this is still a position Coach Sark and PK are looking to get more production from.

The last Longhorns to finish a season with double-digit sacks were Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed in 2013. While I am not projecting that in Year 1 for Simmons, I would be surprised if he left Austin without achieving that feat.