Texas football returns four key players on each side of ball

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Ross Fisher, Sports Reporter

Editor’s note: This story first appeared as part of the September 3 Double Coverage flipbook.

The void Sam Ehlinger leaves behind at the Texas quarterback position is so large that two will fill his shoes, as both redshirt freshman Hudson Card and junior Casey Thompson are set to take snaps against Louisiana on Saturday.

Following the departures of Ehlinger, linebackers Juwan Mitchell and Joseph Ossai, defensive back Caden Sterns and wide receiver Brennan Eagles, Texas enters a massive rebuild phase headed by its new head coach, former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.

While Sarkisian leads the charge, several returning players can contribute to new leadership during their prospective breakout seasons, which should inspire some optimism among the Longhorn faithful ahead of the upcoming season. Here is a look at the two most important returners on each side of the ball:

Bijan Robinson 

At the back end of the 2020 season, then-freshman Bijan Robinson emerged as a star on last year’s Longhorn team which  finished 7–3 on the way to an Alamo Bowl triumph over Colorado.

Having split carries with then-sophomore Roschon Johnson and junior Keaontay Ingram to cap off the season, Robinson only carried the ball 86 times, finding his way into the endzone four times. Despite the now-sophomore’s lack of touches, Robinson averaged the second most yards per carry of any FBS running back with 50 or more touches, with an impressive 8.2 yards per carry.

Now entering his sophomore year as the focal point of Sarkisian’s offense — possibly as the focal point of the whole team — Robinson is poised for a potential record-breaking season. Robinson was named to the preseason All-American team and could find his way to New York City come December as his name is in contention for the Heisman, according to many college football experts.

Joshua Moore

If the junior wasn’t Ehlinger’s main weapon last season, he will certainly be the number one receiving option and the go-to-guy for Card following the loss of Eagles to the NFL.

As a sophomore, Moore led Texas in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. The Yoakum, Texas, product’s nine receiving touchdowns tied for the most in the Big 12 last season. On the first play of the 2020 season against UTEP, Moore broke through the field with a 78-yard receiving touchdown, tying him for the longest reception made by a Big 12 player in 2020.

DeMarvion Overshown

Of Texas’ top five leaders in total tackles last season, Overshown is the only Longhorn who returns to suit up at DKR in 2021. The weakside linebacker, nicknamed Agent 0, was second in total tackles and tied for second most solo tackles for the Longhorns last season.

Agent 0 not only displayed his ability to stop the run last season, but also proved to be a terrific pass defender. Overshown recorded two interceptions and seven pass breakups, making him the leader in both categories. The now-senior finished his junior season with two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery, proving himself to be one of the most well-rounded players on last year’s defense.

Alfred Collins

Collins is the least proven of the four highlighted returners, but the incoming sophomore showed all that he can do toward the end of last season. Collins has the potential to be new defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski’s most important defensive linemen this fall.

Collins showcased his defensive ability in the Alamo Bowl against Colorado when the second-string defensive linemen picked off a Buffalo pass at the line of scrimmage. Collins finished his 2020 season with a recorded 1.5 sacks, two pass breakups and 18 total tackles.

The Bastrop, Texas, product is officially listed behind senior Jacoby Jones on the depth chart going into week one, but Collins could easily find himself in a first-string position on the defensive line if he heads into the season with the same momentum as the Colorado pick.