Certain players have an opportunity to increase a team’s cap. Texas has a number of these players. They are sometimes called “X-Factors”.
Texas has more than a few reliable starters. We know what Bijan Robinson and Xavier Worthy can bring to a full season.
On offense, Junior Angilau is as reliable as his unit was unreliable last season. In his fourth season as a starter, runs behind the redshirt senior near the goal line are a safe bet to reach the end zone.
The offense and defense also have a number of wild cards. Some have yet to produce at college level, while others bring baggage from their time on other programs.
With that in mind, here are five players who can alter the Longhorns’ trajectory in the most significant ways.
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If I could guarantee a Texan player would have a great season, I would choose Ja’Tavion Sanders for a number of reasons. The program hasn’t had a hit receiver on the end since Jermichael Finley. Blaine Irby’s injury history broke Texas’ elite track at that position.
We have a good idea of what the top running back and receiver can add to offense. Additionally, Isaiah Neyor could be just as consistent a performer as the dynamic Texas duo. If you could guarantee that Sanders will be an effective blocker to stay on the field, the Texan offense knows no bounds when it chooses to throw the football.
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Quarterbacks clearly have the biggest impact on team success. I don’t think Ewers is as ready to play as Trevor Lawrence was in his first season. If Ohio State’s transfer can make that kind of impact, Texas is in for an extraordinary transformation.
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I don’t subscribe to the theory that defensive tackle position is useless. With few exceptions, the closer a player is to football, the more significantly he can influence the game. Byron Murphy isn’t Aaron Donald, but the sophomore tackle was one of last season’s few disruptive defenders. Murphy was able to make a name for himself in conference play.
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The only thing stopping Overshown from being a top draft pick is mastering the mental side of the linebacker position. Linebacker is one of the more challenging spots on the field, and the redshirt senior has only been playing there for two years. Nobody is better equipped to cover or blitz from inside linebacker position. If Overshown perfects his ability to read his keys (reading a specific offensive player to determine where the linebacker should go), the Texas defense could stop the bleeding in the run game.
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If Agiye Hall emerges as one of Texas’ top receivers, Texas could still be playing football until New Year’s Eve. I mean, of course, that Texas could play in the Sugar Bowl again. We know nobody can defend Xavier Worthy one-on-one. We have a good idea that the same can be said for Isaiah Neyor. If Agiye Hall thrives on the Texas offense, the Longhorns could very well eclipse 30 points against the likes of Baylor and Oklahoma State.