Head coach Tom Herman stood in front of his team and told them, “I’m going to announce you your five captains for the 2018 season,” in a video released by the program.
Herman then called tight end Andrew Beck, defensive linemen Breckyn Hager and Chris Nelson, offensive lineman Elijah Rodriguez and linebacker Anthony Wheeler — all seniors — to join him in front of the team.
The five captains were all voted upon by their teammates for the upcoming season.
Hager, an Austin Westlake alumnus, enters his fourth year as a defensive lineman and has played in 34 games with nine career starts.
Hager has racked up 105 tackles, 10 total sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss in his Longhorn career thus far. He also enters the 2018 season on the watch list for the Bednarik Award.
“This is the biggest honor I’ve ever gotten in my life to have you guys vote on me,” Hager told the team in the video.
Wheeler, the Dallas native, enters his fourth year as a linebacker with 17 career starts in 36 total appearances.
He has tallied 148 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, three sacks and two forced fumbles to pair with two fumble recoveries. With Malik Jefferson headed to the NFL, the door is wide open for a linebacker to fill the hole Jefferson left behind and it’s looking like that player could be Wheeler.
“If you would’ve asked me this last year I probably would’ve said, ‘Nah, I ain’t ever going to be a captain,’” Wheeler said. “Being up here is a really good feeling for me.”
Beck was named a captain last year but missed the entirety of the 2017 season due to a foot injury. A healthy Beck could do wonders for a unit that has struggled to maintain relevance in recent years.
He enters his fifth year on the John Mackey Award watch list.
Rodriguez is a fifth-year offensive lineman who Herman describes as the team’s Swiss Army knife due to his versatility on the offensive line.
He has played in 20 games with four starts but missed the majority of the 2017 season after getting injured in preseason camp.
The offensive line is perhaps the team’s biggest uncertainty heading into the season. Rodriguez could settle any doubts Texas fans have about the unit with a strong showing in the first few games.
Nelson also enters his fifth season as a Longhorn. He has made an appearance in 31 games, 15 of which were starts. He enters the 2018 season with 70 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in his Longhorn career.
After the departure of Poona Ford, Nelson and Hager are expected to take over the leadership role on and off the field.
“Y’all are going to have somebody to look up to,” Nelson said. “Y’all can ask me any questions. I’m going to go 100 percent everyday.”
Nelson, Rodriguez and Beck have all graduated with a degree and enter as fifth-year seniors.
Texas will travel to Landover, Maryland, to take on the Terrapins next Saturday.