Updated: Dec 29, 2022
Impact of the 2022 and 2023 recruiting classes on a projected 2023 roster.
How the Alamo Bowl gives us a look ahead to 2023.
The Texas Longhorns had an incredible recruiting class once again this month and will be playing in the Alamo bowl tomorrow. I was intrigued by the players in these classes and wanted to evaluate the impact of these players in the LarryTheGM way. The bowl game will be a preview in many areas of what the 2023 roster will be and this is why I am putting this out today. There are many of these openings that start now with some players declaring for the draft and others entering the transfer portal. As you read through this, take mental notes on things to watch for in the Alamo Bowl game. The 2023 season will be year of significant change and the players recruited in the 2022 and 2023 classes will really start to take over. (Also note with one exception- kicker- all of these players are the SCHOLARSHIP players on the roster. there is a fairly large group of squad and walk-on players too.)
I joke in the Astros world on my website that the offseason is truly my season. Maybe you will agree after you read this as I work through this for our Longhorns.
Here is how I see the roster breakdown overall for 2023 TODAY. More of these players may declare for the draft and some more may enter the portal.
Let's review this position by position and you will see how I have gotten to this summary table. I have boldly (and I am sure it's not 100% correctly) predicted the depth chart NEXT YEAR.
For each of these position groups, here is the color coding
- Red cells are players that I project as 2023 starters that are returning (started half of games in 2022)
- Dark Orange cells are players that are projected to start for the first time
- Light Orange cells are players that I project as the second teamers
- Yellow cells are players that I project as third teamers
I included each player's school grade classification as best as I could figure out including if they have redshirted. (If you find anyone that I have wrong, PLEASE let me know- I tried,)
I included each player's 247 Sports Composite Recruiting Score just so you can get an idea of where the new talent compares coming in for each position. Early enrollees in the 2023 class who will be on campus in January are designated with "2023E" as opposed to the "2023" for the non-early enrollees.
The real fun in this is to dig into how the players recruited in fit into the plans going forward as soon as 2023. Again, these are my projections, and I am sure there are some I got wrong but even with that, there are some really interesting things here.
Four of the eight defensive linemen are players in the last two classes. Assuming Sweat returns, he and Murphy should probably be the starters. Collins and Broughton will be pushed by the younger guys for time in the rotation. The young talent may be a year away from truly taking over in this group. Also, this is a position group that may need experienced portal help for 2024 if all of the upperclassmen shine and decide to go pro and players like Mitchell and Ross do not get enough experience.
Alamo Bowl Focus: Do we see Ross (97), Swanson (86), or Bryant (53)
The youth movement is already underway in the edge group. Eight of the nine players here are from the 2022 or 2023 classes. The ONLY upperclassman is Junior returning starter Barryn Sorrell. I am predicting Tapp, Finkley, or Burke take hold of the other starting job, and this is actually an Alamo Bowl watching point. How do these three play in the preview of next year? More young talent is in the 2023 recruiting class and early enrollee Vasek may challenge the players ahead of him. Expect the battles here to make the Edge play SIGNIFICANTLY better in 2023.
Alamo Bowl Focus: Tapp (17), Finkley (1), and Burke (91)- who plays more and better?
There may be some movement between those classified here as Edge and those classified as Linebackers. A quick look at the linebacker table and you realize how important having Jaylan Ford is. If Ford stays for his fourth year (after a massive development year in 2022) and teams up with SUPER recruit Anthony Hill Jr., it would be the best for the linebacking group. Otherwise, Blackwell Jr. may be called in to start and transition from his DB position (he will need to put on some weight.) The 2023 recruits Gullette, Burrell, and Lefau will also battle super seniors Gbenda and Bush for playing time too. Do you see why so many linebackers were ready to come to UT yet? This group could be the weakest link in the defense if Ford leaves or it could be scary good with Ford and Hill starting together in 2023.
It is rare just to assume a true freshman would start at linebacker. Welcome to Anthony Hill Jr.'s world Longhorn fans. You will like these next three years.
Alamo Bowl Focus: Is Blackwell (37) in at LB? Does Johnson (25) play?
For these projections I have assumed three starting cornerbacks and two starting safeties. That is why I only had two classic linebackers starting. Of course, the team will use different defensive schemes as the situation warrants.
Another elite recruit arriving in January will push the upperclassmen- Malik Muhammed. Assuming seniors Watts and Barron stay, I think they will start in 2023 and sophomore Brooks will go from part time starter to full time starter. I think this means senior transfer Holmes, sophomore Guilbeau, and Muhammed will sub in as second teamers. Watch how the current players are used in the Alamo Bowl as well to see if this pecking order is off.
This group has the three seniors, 2021 class redshirt sophomore Ibraheem and the five players from the 2022 and 2023 recruiting groups. The youth movement is everywhere here!
Alamo Bowl Focus: Brooks (8) and Guilbeau (13)
The Safety position has a familiar dynamic as well. Super elite but NOT early enrollee Derek Williams will compete with Seniors Thompson and Crawford for playing time. I suspect the seniors will start the early games and Williams may start late or if there is an injury. Also, monitor 2022 freshman B.J. Allen who is getting his redshirt season and has not played any in 2022 to see if he gets in during the Alamo Bowl. Allen and Turner-Gooden will also push for playing time as will former walk-on and now scholarship player Taaffe who will be a Junior in 2023.
Overall, the young talent in the defensive backfield is great but with several upperclassmen leaving after 2023, the 2024 class will have some real openings here.
Alamo Bowl Focus: Allen (7) and Turner-Gooden (3)
After going through the defense position by position you now may want to reference the first blue table. If my projections are right, there are only six returning starters on defense for 2023 and this could be less if anyone else declares for the draft or enters the transfer portal. There are only 10 seniors on the roster I project for 2023. There are only FIVE Juniors on the roster! There are SIX sophomores. The most startling two numbers though are that there are 10 redshirt freshmen and 10 true freshmen projected in 2023. If McDonald indeed commits that would mean 11 true freshmen.
The defense is going to be VERY VERY young. The good news is that at least six of the 2023 defensive recruits are early enrollees, so they will participate in spring practice.
It would be wild to start two true freshmen, but that is truly how incredible this 2023 recruiting class is.
I started with the defense because the immediate impact of the 2023 recruiting class is most acute there. The 2022 recruiting class already has had a huge impact on the offense so let's understand what is happening on that side of the ball. On this side of the ball, assuming there are not any starters still to declare for the draft or to enter the transfer portal, NINE current offensive starters should still be starting in 2023. Yes, Bijon and Roshon are gone, but let's see what remains on the Forty Acres.
What a difference a year makes here. This offensive line is still young but also experienced. FOUR Starters return- Juniors Majors and Conner and Sophomores Hutson and uber talent Banks. This unit may be the key for the entire offense in 2023. Sophomore Campbell will likely become a starter and the rest of the 2022 OL haul will serve as backups or compete to take one of the previous player's spots. Kyle Flood's 2023 class will get to largely redshirt and prepare to take over but early enrollees Chatman or Kirkland and maybe some of the others might push for time.
There is no senior in this group for 2023 and I don't think it matters. In fact, the big question for the 2023 and 2024 seasons may be making sure the Longhorns can KEEP all of the talent they have now. A couple of players here may enter the transfer portal if they see they are being passed up.
Alamo Bowl Focus: Campbell (52) playing time
The OL is the greatest strength of this team going into 2023 and that is incredible to even think. That is how good they are. Enjoy this offensive line in 2023 and 2024 Longhorns fans. You might be telling stories about it for decades.
What a difference a year makes part two. A year ago, Longhorns fans were pumped to have Ewers transfer to Austin to take over QB duties. We all assumed the end of bad QB was near. Hudson Card MAY have actually been the better QB in 2022 but he is transferring to Purdue. We might get the QB play we have longed for now. In 2023, with the arrival of Arch Manning as an early enrollee and Murphy getting heavy praise from the coaches, a WAR for playing time is eminent. I don't project Manning to start in 2023, but his mere presence changes everything. How will Ewers respond in the bowl game to the mounting pressure? Watch to see if Murphy gets any playing time in the Alamo Bowl. That will tell you what the coaches think.
Alamo Bowl Focus: Ewers's (3) effectiveness and if Murphy (6) plays
More amazing is none of these is even considered an upperclassman even if Ewers does enter the draft after 2023 because he had a great season. Overall, this group is stacked, and the team should benefit and at least we know the old QB Sark has experience managing high profile QB rooms from his time at Alabama.
The biggest question of all positions is here. How does one replace a Doak Walker award winner and his backup who might have been the second-best player on the team? Well the Longhorns have multiple potential answers here three of them will be trying to prove they are the man for 2023 in the bowl tomorrow. Senior Robinson is the most experienced, redshirt sophomore Brooks may be the readiest to start, sophomore Blue may the most talented of the existing players and the highly rated early enrollee recruit Baxter may just come in and claim the starting job. Has there ever been a position group that had so little experience who Longhorns fans were so confident? That is the value of the stacking of great recruits behind the all-time great.
Alamo Bowl Focus: Brooks (24) and Blue (23) vs. Keilan (7) playing time
In 2022, we saw the emergence of the 2021 five-star Sanders and in 2023 the only real question will be is he the best TE in the country. Sanders may leave for the draft after 2023. Junior Helm was a valuable blocking TE and Davis may emerge in 2023. The freshmen in this group are more developmental, but the team also awaits to hear from top TE Duce Robinson. If they get Robinson, the future at TE would likely build around him. If not, this will need to be a focus in the 2024 class.
Alamo Bowl Focus: Davis (81) and Helm (85)- how much do they play?
This group is full of opportunities and potential intrigue in the weeks ahead.
- Will Worthy stay or transfer?
- Will Whittington declare for the draft?
If both leave early enrollee Cook and players from the portal will be critical.
- Is Neyor healthy and ready to go?
If not, the WR group is beyond thin.
Alamo Bowl Focus: Everybody! Ok no let's focus on Thompson (11), Red (17), Alexis (13), and Cain (88)
This is one area the Longhorns have not succeeded to the extent one would expect. Yes Cook, Niblett, and Moore are a great 2023 WR group. Thompson and Red are likely second string even if all are back. I suspect this is the least settled group depending how the questions here get answered. Portal help is coming. The real question is how much.
Putting it all together and the offense - with the exception of WR right now- seems far more stable than the defense. The 2022 class stabilized the line and the 13 offensive recruits are depth in the least in 2023 and possibly important starters at RB, WR, and a longshot at QB. I believe the offense leads this team in 2023 and it may just get behind that massive OL and run over people.
Special Teams Specialists
The Longhorns already addressed their gap in punting for 2023 by having Sanborn transfer in. The rest of the specialists build on their 2022 experience. Auburn might get a scholarship if Texas has the slot for it.
Alamo Bowl Focus: It would be interesting if Stone came in for a FG.
I hope you like this preview of the 2023 Longhorns roster and can appreciate the impact of the 37 freshman (14 RS, 23 True) that will be on the team. The Longhorns are young and very talented. Maybe next year we will see them play in more than the Alamo Bowl. There are many interesting things to watch for tomorrow to see glimpses of the 2023 Texas team.
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