Not much went Texas’ way in 2020. The Longhorns navigated off-field controversy along with a global pandemic.They lost to rival Oklahoma and TCU — again — and will finish the season with a middling 6–3 record. It’s safe to say, times have been better in Austin. While Texas did not meet its goal of playing in the Big 12 Championship game, the season still counted for something. Several Longhorns showed noticeable potential on the field, possibly hinting at what’s to come in 2021 and beyond.
Here are four Texas players who had breakout seasons in 2020:
Bijan Robinson — Running back
Bijan Robinson’s arrival in Austin was highly anticipated. The No. 1 running back recruit in the class of 2020 has lived up to expectations, but it took him time to adjust to the speed of the college game. In Texas’ shootout with Texas Tech on Sept. 26, he attempted to hurdle a defender only to get twisted up like a pretzel. It was an interesting welcome to Big 12 play for the smiley freshman, but as the season wore on, Robinson got more comfortable. He started to really heat up in the Longhorns’ game against West Virginia, rushing for 113 yards on 12 carries. His 172-yard, three touchdown performance in Texas’ game against Kansas State last weekend is what the Longhorn faithful hoped they’d see out of “Little Ricky.” Now adjusted to the college speed, Robinson is off to the races.
D’Shawn Jamison — Defensive back/Kick returner
It started with a drop and then turned into a kick return for a touchdown. D’Shawn Jamison’s special teams score in Texas’ game against Oklahoma State on Halloween was a real game changer, giving the Longhorns the momentum they would need en route to pulling off the upset in Stillwater. But Jamison is no one trick pony. The two-way player nearly accomplished a similar feat in Texas’ 69-31 victory over Kansas State last Saturday. That time, he returned the ball 98 yards up the field, just a yard shy of the score. Perhaps the most prolific returner in the Big 12, Jamison is also a veteran defensive back on the team. This season, the junior showed that the Longhorns have a real swiss army knife on their hands looking forward.
Jake Smith — Wide receiver
Plagued by drops his freshman season and then injuries in the early games of his sophomore year, Jake Smith came up huge in Texas’ upset victory over Oklahoma State. The receiver was on the other end of the fourth-and-7 play which Tom Herman called one of the best of senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger’s career. The duo connected for the 12-yard score that would give Texas the lead. Smith said that play in particular helped his confidence.
Ehlinger said he’s always had trust in the slot receiver, who led the Longhorns receiving core that night with 70 yards and seven receptions. With a natural athleticism and renewed confidence, Smith should be a top receiver heading into his junior season.
DeMarvion Overshown — Linebacker
DeMarvion Overshown has gracefully transitioned from safety to linebacker this year, becoming one of the rising stars on the Texas defense. Overshown had his biggest game of the season against Oklahoma in October. At the Cotton Bowl, he recorded 11 total tackles and an interception. In Texas’ win over Oklahoma State, the hybrid player forced a fumble. The junior isn’t even at full force yet. Herman said he’d like to see Overshown put on a bit more weight, but the linebacker is well on his way to becoming a marquee member of the Texas defense.