Jaylan Ford, LB
Texas’s best linebacker for the last two seasons, senior Jaylan Ford, has been an invaluable part of this defensive unit that has emerged as potentially the best in the Big 12 in the last two seasons. The two-time All-American and multi-time All-Big 12 First-Team selection was an instrumental part of the unit that was the best combined run defense in the last two seasons.
Ford led the Texas defense in run stops in each of the last two seasons.
Ford was also a game-breaker for the Longhorns at linebacker, generating multiple key turnovers in the last two seasons. He helped generate double-digit turnovers since 2022 at Texas, nearly half of which came in clutch time in the fourth quarter.
After he returned to Texas for his senior campaign in 2023, Ford did so while looking to improve his stock for the NFL Draft. And he was able to accomplish that by solidifying himself as a likely middle-round or middle Day 3 pick in the draft this spring.
The conclusion of the 2023 season has shifted the focus for head coach Steve Sarkisian and Texas football back to the recruiting trail and roster management. Texas has many key players with NFL Draft decisions looming.
Kitan Crawford, S
Another senior Texas safety who has one more year of eligibility at the collegiate, but is expected to enter the NFL Draft this spring is Kitan Crawford. The speedster defensive back and special teams gunner has been a regular contributor in the safety rotation in the last two seasons for the Longhorns.
But the main area Crawford impacted this team in the last few years is on special teams. He ranked in the top five in tackles in punt and kick coverage and in special teams grade among the coverage unit players in each of the last two seasons for the Longhorns.
Crawford brings high physical upside to the table at the next level. There will likely be multiple teams that are willing to try and tap into Crawford's physical upside while giving him a spot to contribute on special teams in their coverage unit.