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 edge rushers.
1. JADRIAN TAYLOR, UTEP
2022 review: 42 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 9.5 sacks
NELSON CAESAR, HOUSTON
Taylor wasn’t the most talked about defensive end on the UTEP squad heading into 2022, but he emerged as the best playmaker on the Miners defense by the end of the year. No other player in the Lone Star State ended the season with more sacks than Taylor, who was a first-team All-CUSA selection for his efforts, which included a fumble returned for a touchdown. He’s totaled over 15 sacks over the last two seasons. The Lufkin product began his college career at Kilgore College.
2. MAZIN RICHARDS, NORTH TEXAS
2022 review: 78 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks
Richards was a second-team All-CUSA selection in 2022 after ranking sixth in the conference in sacks and fifth in tackles for loss. The Burleson Centennial product spent the first three years of his college career at Eastern New Mexico University where he was the 2021 Lone Star Conference Defensive Lineman of the Year and a first-team All-LSC selection. Richards must adjust to a new defensive scheme, but he’s a weapon off the edge that disrupts offenses in the passing and running game.
3. TREY MOORE, UTSA
2022 review: 58 tackles, 17 TFL, 8 sacks
The outside linebacker from Smithson Valley exploded onto the scene as a redshirt freshman after only appearing in the final three games of the 2021 campaign. He found his rhythm in 2022 by the start of CUSA play and finished the year as one of the best pass rushing threats in the state. Moore recorded at least two sacks twice last year, including in the bowl loss to Troy. He had 2.5 sacks in a win over FIU back in October.
4. BARRYN SORRELL, TEXAS
2022 review: 44 tackles, 9 TFL, 5.5 sacks
Sorrell flourished in year two under defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowksi, finishing the year as the Longhorns’ top sack man and a member of the honorable mention All-Big 12 team. He started in 10 games as a sophomore, making his precense known at the start of the year with 1.5 sacks in the opener against Louisiana-Monroe. He also had a monster game which included a career-high 11 tackles and three TFL against TCU.
5. JOSH PEARCY, RICE
2022 review: 50 tackles, 10 TFL, 6.5 sacks
Pearcy became Rice’s best pass rusher in 2022 after showing signs of that potential in 2021. The New Jersey native was one of the team’s co-captains, proving he gets it done on and off the field in Houston. Pearcy was an honorable mention All-CUSA selection and needs to have a big year for the Owls to stand a chance of bowl eligibility in a new-look AAC.
6. NELSON CEASER, HOUSTON
2022 review: 36 tackles, 10 TFL, 4 sacks
Ceaser must step into the role as Houston’s top pass rusher with the Cougars losing D’Anthony Jones and Derek Parish. The Third Ward defense underachieved in 2022, but it wasn’t the fault of the defensive line. Sack Ave. was in full effect with Ceaser showing glimpses of a big future terrorizing quarterbacks in the Big 12. The Mo City native started in 11 games as a sophomore in 2022.
7. JORDAN REVELS, TEXAS STATE
2022 review: 70 tackles, 11 TFL, 4.5 sacks
Revels finished second on the Bobcats in tackles for loss and sacks behind Levi Bell in an underrated year for the Texas State defense. The former defensive lineman played more as a linebacker, and his production was outstanding. He recovered a fumble and ended the year with 10 additional quarterback hits on top of his 4.5 sacks. The Galena Park North Shore product will be a leader of the team in 2023.
8. FADIL DIGGS, TEXAS A&M
2022 review: 28 tackles, 5 TFL, 3 sacks
The Texas A&M defensive line was one of the most disappointing units in 2022. The whole front seven could be lumped into that group. The Wrecking Crew struggled to stop the run and create a pass rush last season – a deadly combination in the new SEC. Diggs was the best player of the bunch and should be poised for a breakout campaign in 2023. The four-star recruit is entering his fourth year on campus.
9. PRAISE AMAEWHULE, UTEP
2022 review: 24 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2 sacks
The Katy Taylor product took a step back in 2022 as Taylor emerged as the team’s best pass rusher. The pair are in a friendly competition to break the school’s all-time sack total. Amaewhule’s chances took a hit last year due to low sack numbers. He was still a factor and ended the year as a second-team all-conference selection. He could put up huge numbers in a bounce back 2023 season.
10. TJ FRANKLIN, BAYLOR
2022 review: 36 tackles, 3 TFL, 1.5 sacks
The system Baylor utilizes on defense doesn’t ask its defensive linemen to rush up field and collect huge statistics. That’s the job of the linebackers. Still, Franklin is one of the best edge players in the state. He’s a big, physical player who can set the edge and occasionally pop up as a pass rusher. The Temple product started 10 games at defensive end in 2022. He added four quarterback hurries and three pass breakups.
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