The first name off every Texas Longhorns fans’ tongue when the subject turns to incoming freshmen is five-star linebacker Malik Jefferson.
He only enhanced his image as an instant impact player with a huge performance in Texas’ spring game, showing off his speed and power to create havoc on the defensive side of the ball. There’s no guarantee yet that Jefferson will be in the starting lineup on Sept. 5 when the Horns open the regular season at Notre Dame, but as fall camps opens and moves on, it might be hard to keep him out of the starting 11.
One incoming freshman who certainly appears to be trending as a starter is offensive tackle Connor Williams, who was already rewarded with the starting job in the spring game.
CB Holton Hill: Texas will be woefully thin at cornerback this season. NFL draft picks Quandre Diggs and Mykkele Thompson were both excellent in 2014, and the injury to senior Sheroid Evans left almost nothing for this team to work with in the spring. Fortunately, the Longhorns were able to land Hill, as well as fellow elite cornerback Kris Boyd, just before signing day. Standing 6’2" with a long, wiry frame, he’s a great fit for Strong’s press coverage scheme as someone who can body up and run with outside receivers.
WR Ryan Newsome: [An] That all-purpose skill set, along with the ability to work out of the slot as a true receiver, will set Newsome apart. He may not be a traditional starter, but he’ll see plenty of work on special teams and as an all-around offensive weapon.
WR/TE DeAndre McNeal: McNeal’s a pretty unique athlete. At 6’2", 228 pounds, he piled up over 1,200 rushing and receiving yards as a senior in an all-purpose role usually reserved for much, well, smaller athletes. But McNeal has excellent vision in open field and is surprisingly fluid for someone who brings so much power.
Others to watch: CB Kris Boyd; S DeShon Elliott, S PJ Locke.