Texas Football: 3 UT freshmen who could breakout vs. UW in CFP

Malik Muhammad, Texas football
Malik Muhammad, Texas football / Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman /
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Most of the attention for No. 3 Texas football in the College Football Playoff Semifinal game at the Allstate Sugar Bowl against the No. 2 Washington Huskies will be paid to the stars, and rightly so.

The conversation surrounding the Longhorns heading into the College Football Playoff concerns the play of top stars like defensive linemen T'Vondre Sweat and Byron Murphy II, quarterback Quinn Ewers, and wideouts Xavier Worthy and Adonai Mitchell. But there are plenty of young players head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns will look to contribute in the Sugar Bowl vs. Washington.

Young players will continue to play an important role this postseason for Texas football

Texas had some key contributors step up this season among the underclassmen on both sides of the ball who will be looked to make an impact on the semifinal game on Jan. 1. Among the key underclassmen who contributed to the Longhorns in 2023, multiple of them received Freshman All-American and All-Big 12 honors.

True freshman linebacker Anthony Hill Jr. received Freshman All-American honors this season. Other underclassmen such as sophomore offensive tackle Kelvin Banks Jr., true freshman running back CJ Baxter Jr., and sophomore cornerback Terrance Brooks received All-Big 12 honors.

Here are three Texas freshmen who can breakout in the College Football Playoff Semifinal game at the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 against Washington.

Johntay Cook II, WR

True freshman wide receiver Johntay Cook II has been in the receiver rotation throughout the regular season, backing up Worthy at the field spot. But Cook hasn't gotten much of a shot to make an impact in live-game action consistently this season.

Since Cook had a couple of nice catches for 66 yards in his collegiate debut in the season opener win over the Rice Owls on Sep. 2, he hasn't been targeted more than twice in a game. Cook has only been targeted a dozen times total this season.

Cook could be an intriguing wrinkle that Sark and the Longhorns work into the offensive gameplan for the Sugar Bowl. He can be motioned around to different spots pre-snap on offense to find different ways to get him the ball in space.

Texas had a month to prepare and gameplan for a Washington defense that is prone to giving up many passing yards this season. Washington ranks 11th from the bottom in the FBS in passing defense.

It's not out of the question that Cook could have a few chances to get open in space and make an impact on this game by picking up some chunk plays in the receiving game.