These Texas football leaders must emerge in winter workouts

A new era of the Texas football program begins in the SEC in 2024 with the beginning of winter workouts early this offseason.

Derek Williams, Terrance Brooks, Texas football
Derek Williams, Terrance Brooks, Texas football / Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
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The winter strength and conditioning program began for Texas football on Jan. 23. Texas and S&C coach Torre Becton kicked off the week of winter workouts with conditioning at DKR early Tuesday morning.

Winter workouts will be an important time for many Longhorns players early this offseason. Texas brought in a record number of 17 early enrollees from the high school ranks in the 2024 signing class, including multiple five-star recruits who can make an immediate impact this upcoming season.

Texas football begins the first phase of the 2024 offseason with winter S&C this week

Head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns also have seven portal additions participating in winter workouts early this offseason. Six of Texas's portal additions have already arrived on campus for the start of winter S&C this week.

Texas got an additional portal commitment who signed his LOI with the school before the deadline to enroll for the spring semester, former Arizona Wildcats junior transfer defensive lineman Tiaoalii Savea.

The only portal commitment for the Longhorns who is enrolling during the summer instead is former Oregon State Beavers redshirt junior transfer slot receiver Silas Bolden.

Last offseason was a good example of how much can change for the Longhorns during winter workouts. We saw new leaders emerge for the Longhorns in winter workouts last year, including redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers, who cut off his mullet to show he was all business.

With some key departures the Longhorns faced this offseason, we are sure to see some new leaders start to emerge before spring ball. Here are three key Longhorns players who must emerge as leaders during winter workouts.

Derek Williams Jr., S

Texas's safety room faced significant attrition early this offseason. Multiple seniors with starting experience at safety for Texas last season, including Jerrin Thompson and Kitan Crawford, left the program via the transfer portal during the December window.

After some inconsistent play on the field in 2023 at the safety position, the Longhorns made it a priority to usher in a new era for this secondary, with a ton of young talent coming to the Forty Acres entering the SEC in 2024.

One key returning safety for the Longhorns who has high expectations in 2024 is rising sophomore Derek Williams Jr. Arguably Texas's best performing safety in the second half of last season, Williams is expected to solidify a starting spot in this secondary during spring ball.

Williams's process of establishing himself as a cornerstone starter in this secondary starts with him emerging as a vocal leader and someone who sets the tone and energy in defense workouts. He brings that SEC-level physicality to the secondary, which can set the bar high for the DBs in the weight room and in winter conditioning.

Last summer, Williams made an instant impression on the older safeties in this position group within the first few weeks of him arriving on campus as a true freshman. He soaked up information like a sponge, and that translated when he made an immediate impact in live-game action for the Longhorns last fall.

Horns247 reported that Williams is someone the staff has pinpointed as a potential emerging leader to watch on defense during winter S&C. As one of only two returning safeties, including redshirt sophomore Michael Taaffe, Williams must be a tone-setter for the position in workouts this offseason.