Malik Muhammad, CB
Among the big contributors for Texas among the freshmen on the defensive side of the ball this season was true freshman cornerback Malik Muhammad. The former high-four-star recruit from Dallas (TX) South Oak Cliff High School burst onto the scene in the second half of the season as Texas's highest-graded defensive back since Week 7.
For his standout efforts in Big 12 play for the Longhorns, Muhammad earned Freshman All-American honors from Pro Football Focus.
Muhammad has really solidified the depth and the future of the cornerback position for the Longhorns this fall. Texas has a group of four quality cornerbacks who all rotate this season, including Muhammad, redshirt junior Gavin Holmes, Brooks, and redshirt junior Ryan Watts.
He's made big plays for this defense in Big 12 play this season, including multiple third-down stops in the last three weeks and his first career interception on a nice play against Texas Tech. Texas needs Muhammad to continue to rise to the occasion against this stellar Washington receiving corps.
Washington boasts the nation's top passing offense this season, led by Heisman runner-up and quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and the PAC-12's leading receiver, Rome Odunze.
Muhammad has played his best football in the last two weeks. He was the highest-graded corner in the Power Five during conference championship week. And he was Texas's highest-graded corner in the win over Texas Tech on Black Friday.
There is a valid argument to be made that Muhammad has already broken out this season. But he has only started one game for the Longhorns, which was in the Big 12 title game against Oklahoma State.
The combination of Muhammad only having made one start and how valuable he needs to be for this corner rotation against Washington's deep and potent receiving corps still gets him a spot on this list. If he continues to perform at the level he has in the last two weeks against Washington's receiving corps on New Year's Day, Muhammad will establish himself as one of the nation's most impactful freshmen this season.