Spring football inches closer on the 2023 calendar as February trickles towards March. The state of Texas is primed for another memorable year at the FBS level with UTSA coming off another C-USA title and TCU becoming the first team from Texas to reach a national championship game since Colt McCoy’s Longhorns. There are 13 FBS teams in Texas now with Sam Houston moving up. Houston is now in the Big 12, while UTSA, North Texas, and Rice move to the AAC.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football will look at the 10 best players at each position on the football field continuing with running backs.
Here is the top 10 list for quarterbacks.
1. RICHARD REESE, BAYLOR
2022 review: 972 rushing yards, 14 TDs, 4.9 YPC; 13 catches, 89 yards
The former three-star prospect from Bellville overachieved in his freshman campaign in Waco and was named the DCTF Offensive Freshman of the Year in 2022 after nearly reaching 1,000 yards rushing on 198 attempts. Reese became the bell cow of the Bears rushing attack and he should only be improved as a sophomore with a full offseason under his belt. Reese runs bigger than his 5-9 frame and he’s a perfect fit for the wide-zone offense deployed by offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes because of his vision and patience as a ball carrier.
2. TAHJ BROOKS, TEXAS TECH
2022 review: 691 yards, 7 TDs, 4.7 YPC; 26 catches, 164 yards, 1 TD
Few running backs in America are harder to bring down than Brooks, who was amongst the leaders in yards over expectation because of his ability to break tackles and punish defenders. Brooks led the Red Raiders in rushing attempts and yards, and his role should increase in 2023 thanks to the departure of fellow running back Sarodorick Thompson. Brooks, a Manor product, is also a weapon as a receiver out of the backfield.
3. ALTON MCCASKILL, HOUSTON
2022 review: Injured
An ACL tear suffered in spring practiced sidelined McCaskill during the 2022 campaign, but he’ll return healthy for 2023 as one of the top running backs in the state. He’s an important cog for the Cougars as they transition to the Big 12 and a Power Five conference. As a freshman in 2021, McCaskill set the Houston record for rushing touchdowns by a true freshman with 16. He ran for 961 yards and added 21 receptions.
4. KEVORIAN BARNES, UTSA
2022 review: 845 yards, 6 TDs, 6.3 YPC; 9 catches, 119 yards
Barnes was a pleasant surprise for a UTSA offense that required balance for its high-powered passing attack. The freshman was excellent, especially during conference play as the Roadrunners repeated as C-USA champs. He was second on the team in attempts, but first in yardage thanks to a 6.3 yards per carry average. He’ll be the main man in 2023 for a UTSA squad hoping to crash into the AAC as a favorite.
5. AYO ADEYI, NORTH TEXAS
2022 review: 807 yards, 4 TDs, 7.2 YPC; 2 catches, 12 yards
The 7.2 yards per carry is a staggering stat for Adeyi. The Mean Green built a reputation as one of the best rushing attacks at the G5 level over the last few years, and Adeyi hopes to continue that trend under a new regime in 2023. He’ll need to be the focal point of the offense as Eric Morris breaks in a transfer quarterback and a few new names along the offensive line. The most impressive part of Adeyi’s 2022 season is that he only lost a total of six yards on 112 attempts.
6. JONATHON BROOKS, TEXAS
2022 review: 197 yards, 5 TDs, 6.6 YPC; 2 catches, 37 yards, 1 TD
Brooks waited patiently behind future NFL draft picks Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson before bursting onto the scene late in the 2022 season when given an opportunity against Kansas. The former Mr. Texas Football ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries. Brooks’ 6.6 yards per carry led the team. He scored a touchdown as a receiver in the bowl loss to Washington. He’ll be pushed by Jaydon Blue and five-star true freshman Cedric Baxter.
7. DEION HANKINS, UTEP
2022 review: 701 yards, 3 TDs, 5 YPC; 4 catches, 42 yards
Hankins shared a backfield with Lubbock native Ronald Awatt for the past few seasons, but the 2023 campaign should be the time for Hankins to carve his own legacy in El Paso. He was second on the team in attempts and yards behind Awatt in 2022. Hankins led the Miners in yards per carry, however. Dana Dimel wants his UTEP squad to establish the run.
8. LINCOLN PARE, TEXAS STATE
2022 review: 772 yards, 5 TDs, 4.5 YPC; 29 catches, 209 yards, 1 TD
Pare was a bright spot for a Texas State offense that struggled to score points. He was the team’s leading rusher and tied for second on the squad with 29 catches. His ability to hurt defenses in multiple ways should provide new head coach G.J. Kinne with a Swiss-Army knife to build his 2023 offense around.
9. CAMAR WHEATON, SMU
2022 review: 326 yards, 2 TDs, 5.2 YPC; 7 catches, 36 yards
Wheaton arrived on the Hilltop to much fanfare given his former status as a five-star recruit who spent the 2021 season at Alabama. The Garland product couldn’t remain healthy enough to become a consistent threat for the Mustangs in 2022, but his emergence this season would provide balance for an offense that’s about to be led by quarterback Preston Stone. A more efficient running attack would make Rhett Lashlee’s offense even harder to stop. Texas A&M transfer LJ Johnson is another name to watch in the SMU backfield.
10. AMARI DANIELS, TEXAS A&M
2022 review: 206 yards, 0 TDs, 5.6 YPC; 2 catches, 1 yard
Daniels has big, and speedy, shoes to fill in the Aggie backfield with the departure of superstar running back Devon Achane. Achane ran the ball 196 times in 2022. Daniels was second for Texas A&M with 36 totes. He recorded only 38 total touches last season, but he did average the same number of yards per carry (5.6) as Achane. The Aggies won’t just rely on Daniels because replacing a guy such as Achane takes a team effort. True freshman Reuben Owens is a name to watch in the maroon backfield.
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