The Lone Star 50: The Top 5
The Lone Star 50: The Top 5
2013-03-29 08:00:00

Our countdown of the 50 most important college players in Texas concludes.

 By Greg Tepper
 DCTF Associate Editor
   

In the month of March, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football is introducing the Lone Star 50, a countdown of the 50 most important Texas college football players in 2013. Keep in mind: this is not necessarily a ranking of the top 50 best college football players in Texas, but rather the 50 players whose performance will most impact the college football scene in Texas in 2013.

Schedule:
March 13: Nos. 50-41
March 15: Nos. 40-31
March 20: Nos. 30-21
March 22: Nos. 20-11
March 27: Nos. 10-6
Today: Nos. 5-1

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5) Steven Jenkins, LB, Texas A&M
There hasn’t been this much excitement around Texas A&M football in a long, long while – at least 1999, perhaps even 1995 or before – and for good reason that you don’t need me to dictate. But…look over at the defensive side for a moment. Damontre Moore: gone early to the NFL Draft. Jonathan Stewart: graduated. Sean Porter: graduated. Steven Terrell: graduated. Spencer Nealy: graduated. Dustin Harris: graduated. That’s a long list of big pairs of shoes to fill on the defensive side for the Aggies, which is why so much attention will turn toward Steven Jenkins, the senior transfer from Coffeyville (Kan.) CC. Last year, he finished third on the team in tackles (78), fourth in tackles for loss (5.5) and 4th in sacks (2), while also intercepting a pass that he returned for a touchdown. There’s not much doubt that he will be the heartbeat of the defense from his weakside linebacker spot, and now that Porter and Stewart are gone, the linebacker spot is going to be of special emphasis for the Aggie D. Jenkins could very well make or break the A&M defense.

4) Casey Pachall, QB, TCU
The ballad of Casey Pachall has yet to reach its conclusion, and if you really want to get to the nitty gritty of it, you could say that the second chapter is just beginning. By now, you’re probably well-versed in his story: after an excellent sophomore year taking over for Andy Dalton, Pachall ran into a series of substance problems (reportedly admitting to police that he had failed a drug test, then an arrest on DWI) that led to him withdrawing from the school to enter a substance abuse program, leaving TCU to turn to Trevone Boykin for the remainder of the season. Now, Pachall is back, allegedly clean and reportedly in a better mental state than he’s been in a long time. Boykin was serviceable for the Horned Frogs, helping them limp to a 7-6 finish. But with Pachall back – if he can win the job and is truly back to form – the Horned Frogs’ chances of contending for a spot at the top of the Big XII jump exponentially. The problem has never been physical for Pachall; his mental state could determine the Horned Frogs’ fate come fall.

3) Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
Ready for a fun fact? Among all players with at least 100 carries last season, Lache Seastrunk ranked second in the nation in yards per attempt, with 7.73 yards per carry. That’s explosive. Of course, we always knew he had this in him. Anyone who saw him slice and dice up the competition at Temple – where he gained bluest-chip prospect status – knows what a talent Seastrunk is. After an uneventful and brief stay at Oregon, Seastrunk transferred to Baylor, where he earned Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year honors last year by running for 1,012 yards and 7 touchdowns. Seastrunk became more and more of a factor in the Bears’ offense as the season went on – he didn’t get more than 7 carries in the first seven games, then didn’t have fewer than 15 per game the rest of the way – and should be a critical factor as the Bears break in a new quarterback with the departure of Nick Florence. While the new QB – presumably Bryce Petty – gets his sea legs, it’ll be imperative that Seastrunk stays both healthy and effective for the Bears’ offense to find its rhythm. Seastrunk may be the Bears’ most explosive weapon; it’s time to showcase that.

2) David Ash, QB, Texas
Being the quarterback at the University of Texas is a pretty pressure-packed lot in life. Some players – like Vince Young, Colt McCoy and Bret Stafford – can handle it. Others – like Garrett Gilbert, Mark Murdock and James Brown – can’t. And really, if you think about it, the jury is still out as to which camp David Ash belongs. On one hand, the now-junior out of Belton guided the Longhorns to a 9-4 mark in his first season as the Horns’ true No. 1 QB, and got progressively better as the season wore on. On the other hand, he was benched against Kansas, was pretty darn bad against Oklahoma and TCU, and has battled fits of inconsistency. Make no mistake about it: David Ash is the man for the Longhorns this season. He’ll have some excellent weapons on the outside in Mike Davis, Jaxon Shipley and perhaps even newcomer Jake Oliver; he’ll have tremendous running backs behind him in Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron; the offensive line should be solid; and the offense is moving to a more up-tempo look to keep defenses on its heels. It’s hard to put it all on one player, but for Texas, the Longhorns will go as far as David Ash can take them. So, which will it be? Is he more Colt McCoy, or more James Murdock?

1) Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Hey, look, another list atop which sits Johnny Manziel. I don’t need to bore you with how good Johnny Manziel was in 2012 – he became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, and I think that’s a pretty good summation of it. But he’s also the most important player in the state heading into 2013. I posed the question on Twitter yesterday: how many wins was Johnny Manziel worth last season? That’s to say, how many wins would A&M have had last year if Jamiell Showers or Matt Joeckel won the starting job? The answers varied from people who thought A&M would’ve been 4-8 without Manziel to those who thought they’d still be almost as good. Personally, I think he was worth somewhere between 2-3 wins for the Aggies last season, and while that may not sound like a lot, consider that we’re talking about one guy. Manziel shapes the entire A&M offense – a quick-firing, zone-reading offense that stretches the field horizontally but not necessarily vertically – and basically makes the entire system work. With all due respect to Showers and Joeckel, you couldn’t throw those guys back there and run the same system as well, because the system is so suited to Manziel’s strengths of improvisation and elusiveness. Now, he’s got to do it without his star left tackle in Luke Joeckel, and without his most reliable receiver in Ryan Swope. He is the commander-in-chief of the most important unit on the most exciting team in the state of Texas, and his play will ultimately determine whether A&M has another leap in them. That makes Johnny Manziel the most important college football player in Texas for 2013.

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The 2013 Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Lone Star 50:
50) Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
49) Stephon Sanders, LB, SMU
48) Craig Mager, CB, Texas State
47) Germard Reed, DT, UTEP
46) Kerry Hyder, DE, Texas Tech
45) Evans Okotcha, RB, UTSA
44) Terrence Franks, RB, Texas State
43) Cody Bauer, DE, Rice
42) Trevon Stewart, DB, Houston
41) Zach Orr, LB, North Texas
40) Stephen Kurfehs, LB, UTSA
39) Jameill Showers, QB, UTEP
38) Toney Hurd Jr, S, Texas A&M
37) Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
36) Waymon James, RB, TCU
35) Devonte Fields, DE, TCU
34) David Mayo, LB, Texas State
33) Eric Ward, WR, Texas Tech
32) Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor
31) David Piland, QB, Houston
30) Randall Joyner, LB, SMU
29) Brandon Carter, WR, TCU
28) Horace Miller, DL, UTEP
27) Johnathan Gray, RB, Texas
26) Brandin Byrd, RB, North Texas
25) Terrance Bullitt, LB/S, Texas Tech
24) Garrett Gilbert, QB, SMU
23) Eric Soza, QB, UTSA
22) Robby Wells, TE, Rice
21) Cameron Nwosu, LB, Rice
20) Duke Delancellotti, QB, Texas State
19) Freddie Warner, CB, North Texas
18) Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
17) Cedric Ogbuhei, OT, Texas A&M
16) Marcus Mallett, LB, TCU
15) Triston Wade, S, UTSA
14) Charles Sims, RB, Houston
13) Taylor McHargue, QB, Rice
12) Michael Brewer, QB, Texas Tech
11) Eddie Lackey, LB, Baylor
10) Jordan Hicks, LB, Texas
9) Traylon Shead, RB, SMU
8) Brock Berglund, QB, North Texas
7) Derrick Mathews, LB, Houston
6) Nathan Jeffrey, RB, UTEP
5) Steven Jenkins, LB, Texas A&M
4) Casey Pachall, QB, TCU
3) Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
2) David Ash, QB, Texas
1) Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M


Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.

He can be reached via e-mail, via Twitter (@Tepper) and via the DCTF Facebook page.


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