Texas 2024 Roster Autopsy: Longhorns enter SEC play as a national title contender

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2023 finish: 12-2, Big 12 champion, College Football Playoff semifinals (Sugar Bowl)
Off. PPG: 35.8 (15th in FBS)
Def. PPG: 18.9 (15th in FBS) 
Key losses: WR Xavier Worthy, DT T’Vondre Sweat, DT Byron Murphy, WR AD Mitchell, RB Jonathon Brooks, LB Jaylan Ford 
New faces: 22 signees; 8 transfers 
Top additions: WR Isaiah Bond (Alabama), Edge Trey Moore (UTSA), DB Andrew Mukuba (Clemson), Edge Colin Simmons (Duncanville), WR Ryan Wingo (St. Louis, Mizz.)


Texas returns quarterback Quinn Ewers and four starters along the offensive line to lead an offense that loses its top five pass catchers from 2023. Ewers passed for 3,479 yards and 22 touchdowns to six interceptions as a redshirt sophomore. The losses of Brooks in the backfield and Worthy, Mitchell, Ja’Tavion Sanders, and Jordan Whittington won’t be easy to replace, but the Longhorns recruit at a high level every season. Head coach Steve Sarkisian dipped into the transfer portal to replace production with Bond, Isaiah Silas, Matthew Golden, and Amari Niblack headed to the Forty Acres. 

The offensive line is SEC ready. Jake Majors is back to anchor the group at center. Kelvin Banks is a potential top 10 pick in the 2025 NFL Draft as a left tackle. Guards Hayden Conner, DJ Campbell, and Cole Hutson have plenty of experience. The only question mark is at right tackle with Christian Jones off to the NFL. The running back combination of CJ Baxter and Jaydon Blue should be one of the better 1-2 punches in college football. 

Projected starters

Offensive starters
Position Player Year
QB Quinn Ewers Jr. 
RB CJ Baxter Soph.
WR Isaiah Bond Jr. 
WR Silas Bolden Sr. 
WR Matthew Golden Jr. 
TE Amari Niblack Jr. 
LT Kelvin Banks Jr. 
LG  Hayden Conner  Sr.
C Jake Majors Sr.
RG DJ Campbell Jr. 
RT Cam Williams Jr. 

Breakout candidates 

WR Johntay Cook – The additions of Bond, Silas, and Golden at the wide receiver make it easy to overlook the redshirt freshman from DeSoto. Cook’s eight catches are the most of any returning Texas receiver who spent 2023 on the roster. He’s a big-play threat with vertical speed and after-the-catch ability. 

TE Gunnar Helm – The senior was overshadowed by the sheer talent of Sanders, and Alabama transfer Niblack is likely the main weapon in the passing game at tight end, but the staff loves Helm and he’ll get plenty of snaps. He caught 14 passes and two touchdowns in 2023. He’ll be one of the leaders of the offense. 

OL Cole Hutson – Don’t forget about Hutson, who started 13 times as a true freshman at right guard. He dealt with nagging injuries throughout his sophomore season, which allowed Campbell to lock down the right guard spot. Expect the competition to open again in the spring. Even if Hutson doesn’t win a starting spot back, he’ll be the primary back up at both guard spots in 2024 and that means a lot of playing time. 

Key unit

Running back – Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson led the offense in 2022. Brooks carried the mantle in 2023 before he was hurt. Sarkisian is a former quarterback known for an exotic and creative passing attack, but the dude loves to run the football. The Longhorns need balance, especially early in the year as Ewers and his new targets develop chemistry in live fire. The duo of Baxter and Blue can make life easier for the entire offense if they can stay healthy, provide balance, and avoid turnovers. If Texas can become one of the top run teams in the SEC with those running backs and a big, bad offensive line…watch out. 

Biggest question mark 

Leadership – The Longhorns don't face many question marks on the offensive side of the ball. They return their quarterback, four offensive line starters, two talented running backs, and added three proven receivers through the portal. But who are the leaders of the unit? Robinson and Johnson wore that hat two years ago. Whittington and Christian Jones took the baton in 2023. It is on Ewers to be a leader, help the new receivers learn the ropes, and carry this Texas offense in the first year as an SEC program. 


Texas could be an improved defense in 2024 despite the losses of Sweat and Murphy in the middle of the defense. That’s because the Longhorns should be more talented in the secondary. The unit was third in the nation against the run, but the pass defense ranked 116th in the nation in yards allowed per game. Texas upped the athleticism on the backend with the addition of Mukuba. The unit also returns Jahdae Barron and Derek Williams at safety and Terrence Brooks and Malik Muhammad at cornerback. 

The front seven won’t have the Outland Trophy winner (Sweat) or a potential top 20 NFL draft pick (Murphy) in the trenches, but the defensive line does return Alfred Collins, Ethan Burke, and Barryn Sorrell. An improved pass rush and edge presence would help offset the presumed step back at defensive tackle. Anthony Hill is the new face of the linebacker position. 

Projected starters

Defensive starters
Position Player Year
DE Ethan Burke Jr.
DT Alfred Collins Sr.
NT Aaron Bryant  Soph.
DE Barryn Sorrell Sr. 
LB Anthony Hill Jr. Soph.
LB David Gbenda Sr. 
NB Jahdae Barron Sr. 
S Derek Williams Soph. 
S Andrew Mukuba Sr. 
CB Terrence Brooks Jr. 
CB Malik Muhammad Soph. 

Breakout candidates 

DT Sydir Mitchell – The New Jersey native retained a redshirt in 2023 by only participating in four games. At 6-6 and 335 pounds, Mitchell has the body type and strength to become a real problem in the middle of the Texas defense. He’s the closest player Texas has to replicating the pure size of Sweat. 

LB Liona Lefau – The Hawaiian played in every game for Texas as a true freshman in 2023, mostly on special teams. He might end up a starter at linebacker next to Hill. The 6-1, 227-pound Lefau earned rave reviews from his teammates and coaches last year. The former four-star could be a household name by the end of the season. 

DB Jelani McDonald – Few young players on the roster were mentioned by their teammates more for practice exploits than McDonald. He played in 12 games for the Longhorns as a true freshman, mostly on special teams. His athleticism and raw ability make him a moldable piece of clay for the defensive staff. He can play safety, nickel, and is a good pass rusher from the second and third level. 

Key unit

Edge rushers – Texas took steps to improve the safety position. The Longhorns also added potential at pass rusher with Trey Moore from UTSA and five-star Simmons from the high school ranks. An improved pass rush should help the pass coverage. And it should lessen the dip expected at the defensive tackle position. 

Biggest question mark 

Defensive tackle depth – Texas lost Keondre Coburn and Moro Ojomo to the NFL after the 2022 season. The Longhorns losses Sweat and Murphy, as well as position coach Bo Davis, after the 2023 run. That is four professional players and arguably the best defensive tackle coach in America over a two-year span. It is impossible to ask the Texas defensive tackle room to not take a small step back. Collins and Vernon Broughton need to be more consistent, and a few of the young bulls need to grow up quickly. 

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