Texas made a strong statement in the transfer portal and recruiting class of 2022.
After a 5-7 season, Texas fans could not have drafted a better roster overhaul for 2022. As a result, many are expecting nine wins for Texas next season. While a nine-win season is doable, manager Steve Sarkisian will have his job for him to do.
The last decade has been forgettable for Texas fans. Indeed, the 2018 season is perhaps the only one worth remembering. Texas went 10-4 that year, defeating two of the top five teams in the final standings of the College Football Playoffs, Oklahoma and Georgia.
While Tom Herman inherited great defensive players and brought solid transfers ahead of the 2018 season, the depth he delivered to Sarkisian left a lot to be desired.
To get an idea of how far the Texas team needs to progress, let’s compare this year’s team to the last Texas team to win nine games.
The safe bet here is Sam Ehlinger. For what he was missing as a passer-by, he made up for with 16 quick touchdowns that season. Considering the effort made by Texas to sign Quinn Ewers, they definitely believe he can elevate the team. Ewers’ figures to make the 2022 bout considerably more explosive, but Ehlinger’s 2018 season will be hard to beat.
Tre Watson was an excellent defender for the Longhorns in 2018. Keaontay Ingram’s freshman season was so impressive that he would never live up to the expectations that were logically placed on him in the future. That said, Bijan Robinson is the best Texas Longhorns running back of all time. With all due respect to Ricky Williams, Earl Campbell, Cedric Benson and Jamaal Charles, all of whom are legendary in their own right. We have never seen anyone like Bijan. Add to those three running backs who could be above-average holders in the Big 12 and the 2022 team will win by a mile.
This battle really comes down to taste. Both recipient bodies are dominant in different ways. The Texas twin towers, Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey, could not be defended within ten yards. Men among boys. Add Devin Duvernay to that group and you have a lethal trio. This year’s team can beat that group in depth and explosiveness. Xavier Worthy is about to become one of the great Texas receivers. Jordan Whittington is a proven possession receiver, although he is still not as dominant as Humphrey. However, Isaiah Neyor, Agiye Hall, Tarique Milton and Brenen Thompson raise the roof for Longhorns 2022. Jahleel Billingsley and JaTavion Sanders carry a tight end vertical threat that Texas hasn’t seen since Jermichael Finley.
The 2018 offensive line had no weak link. They had two tackles to the left of the NFL in Calvin Anderson and Sam Cosmi. Patrick Vahe and Zack Shackleford were solid in attack. If the 2022 line is to cross that group, they can do it tenaciously. The two legitimate criticisms of the 2018 line were the lack of size and the lack of intensity. The 2018 group did not bury the defenses in the ground. Between freshman additions and more playtime for Andrej Karic, we could finally see an offensive line that blocks with nastiness.
The 2018 defensive line was special for Texas. There was a noticeable drop when Charles Omenihu, Chris Nelson or Breckyn Hager left a game. Texas was able to generate some rush to pass with that group. The current men of the Texas defensive line have not yet lived up to that standard. Alfred Collins and Byron Murphy have shown glimpses of that level of play, but have yet to consistently duplicate it.
Gary Johnson may never get enough credit for his role in the 2018 defense. Johnson was a dominant force for that Texas team. Along with Anthony Wheeler and freshman linebacker Joseph Ossai, the trio excelled at the damage control required by the position. The current group has talent but is still a work in progress.
The defensive backfield of 2018 was one of the most comprehensive in the nation. Caden Sterns benefited most from that talented group. Sterns won all the conferences as a freshman that season. Sterns was joined by excellent defenders, PJ Locke and Brandon Jones. Staying on the theme of the 2018 roster, the corners were definitely men among the guys. Kris Boyd and Davante Davis blew up bubble screens for negative games. The tandem punished the opposing receivers. The 2022 squad may be very good, but it likely won’t match what the 2018 squad consistently brought.