Top seniors to watch in 2014

Jacob Martella

Quandre Diggs

With then-head coach Mack Brown leaving, and many projecting defensive back Quandre Diggs to be the top Longhorn taken in the NFL draft last spring, Diggs instead chose to come back for his senior season. As one of a number of seniors on the defensive side of the ball, Diggs will be tasked with leading what should be the strongest unit on the team in head coach Charlie Strong’s first year at Texas.

Diggs has been solid in all three of his seasons as a Longhorn, registering an average of 56 total tackles and 35 solo tackles, as well as 10 pass break ups during that time. While his interception numbers aren’t that impressive — eight picks in his career and none last year — his presence on the field makes the biggest difference, as he locks down top receivers and forces opposing quarterbacks to throw away from his side of the field.

With Diggs’ name already on the watch lists for multiple awards and NFL scouts waiting to see how he performs this season, it will be more than just “The Eyes of Texas” watching Diggs this season.

Haley Eckerman

Everyone knows when senior outside hitter Haley Eckerman is on the serving line. Gregory Gym falls silent as she begins her serve, the silence broken by the pop of the ball hitting her hand. It’s obvious why Eckerman has become known both on campus and around the nation.

Eckerman, the Big 12 Player of the Year for the past two years, has been a vital part of the Longhorns’ success the past three seasons. Since arriving in Austin, she has registered an average of 445 kills per season and 4.58 points per set. Her serve has also gotten more effective in the past two seasons, with 30 aces in
that time.

After a high point in 2012, when she had 504 kills, 16 aces and a .298 hitting percentage, Eckerman’s numbers fell off a bit last season with only 447 kills and a .272 hitting percentage. As the Longhorns look to get back to the national championship, expect Eckerman to be one of the strongest leaders on the squad.

Sharis Lachappelle

Even though she hasn’t played her entire career at Texas, senior midfielder Sharis Lachappelle has proven to be a key part of the Longhorn’s attack.

After transferring from Houston for her sophomore season, she led the team with five goals while ranking second in the Big 12 with two game-winning goals. Lachappelle was one of five players last year tied for the team lead in goals with four. She also tallied three assists and a team-high 22 shots on goal.

Both Lachappelle and junior goalkeeper Abby Smith were named to the preseason All-Big 12 team. Although the Longhorn offense is filled with players who can score, Lachappelle is expected to be most successful in finding the back of the net.