After the 2023 season ended for No. 3 Texas football on Jan. 1 with a loss to the No. 2 Washington Huskies in the CFP Semifinals game at the Sugar Bowl, this staff turns its focus to preparing for the upcoming offseason.
One of the major components of the offseason for head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns staff will be managing roster turnover and the transfer portal. Texas has already lost more than a handful of players to the transfer portal during the December window.
A handful more portal departures likely ahead for Texas football this offseason
Key players who entered the portal during the December window include redshirt freshman quarterback Maalik Murphy (committed to Duke), senior safety Jalen Catalon, redshirt junior wide receiver Isaiah Neyor, and redshirt sophomore wide receiver Casey Cain (committed to UNLV).
More portal departures are expected in the coming days and weeks for the Longhorns since their run in the College Football Playoff has concluded. Among the players who could enter the portal this offseason are mostly those that won't have a realistic shot at cracking the two-deep or earning a starting job heading into the 2024 campaign.
Here's a prediction of the first Longhorns players to enter the portal this offseason.
Max Merril, OL
A few more Tom Herman-era recruits have already entered the transfer portal during the December window for the Longhorns. Most of the Herman-era recruits who entered the portal already this cycle were among the Longhorns players that didn't get much playing time in the last couple of years.
An example of a Herman-era recruit who hasn't found a way to the field yet is redshirt sophomore interior offensive lineman Max Merril. The former three-star recruit from Houston (TX) Strake Jesuit High School has struggled to climb the depth chart in the last few years at Texas.
Merril will be one of just a couple of Herman-era recruits along the offensive line remaining in 2024. With senior offensive tackle Christian Jones exhausting his eligibility after the season, junior guard Hayden Conner and Merril will be the only two Herman-era recruits left on the roster among the scholarship offensive linemen.
In the last couple of years, Merril has been passed up on the depth chart along the interior offensive line by younger and more talented players at the two guard positions.
Merril hasn't played any live-game snaps at Texas in his collegiate career. If he wants to get a legitimate shot to make an impact in live-game action, Merril's best option is probably to find a more advantageous situation via the transfer portal.