Veteran players lead charge into year two of Sarkisian era

Emma Hutchinson, Sports reporter

The recruitment of Arch Manning and the transfer of redshirt freshman Quinn Ewers have brought all eyes on the Longhorns as they enter their second season under head coach Steve Sarkisian, still looking to prove themselves as worthy SEC contenders.   

However, with over half of the team’s roster composed of underclassmen, returning veterans have their work cut out for them as they look to lead with authority and fill the holes left by injured teammates. Here’s a look at four key veterans to look for on the field: 

Xavier Worthy

The All-American athlete finished the 2021 season breaking records in three single-season freshman categories. Worthy had 62 receptions for 981 yards and 12 touchdowns, and he led all FBS freshman wide receivers and the Big 12 with 81.8 receiving yards per game. Worthy had notable performances against some of Texas’ biggest rivals, including his first 100-yard game against Texas Tech. He established the record for the second most yards received in a Texas game with 261 yards during the Red River Showdown against Oklahoma. The California product started in all 12 regular season games last year and ended 2021 as the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.

Bijan Robinson

As another player who needs no introduction, the third-year running back will be a major focal point in the offense this season. Robinson led the team with 1,127 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns across the 10 games he started back in 2021, finishing third in the Big 12 conference for scoring and total touchdowns. Robinson is the 2022 Big 12 Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and a projected Heisman candidate. The Tucson, Arizona product has rising expectations to meet this season and is currently expected to be taken as high as No. 12 in  2023 mock NFL Draft predictions, according to AZCentral’s Jeremy Cluff.   

DeMarvion Overshown

Taking advantage of an extra year of eligibility, the fifth-year senior will be Robinson’s right hand as he enters his final year of college football. Overshown was given a spot on the Butkus Linebacker of the Year Award Watch List prior to the start of the 2022 season. The Butkus Award honors college football’s top linebacker every year. Overshown came out of the gate hot last year, securing a career high of 13 tackles during the season opener against  Louisiana. He finished the game with 74 total tackles, 38 of them being solo ones.     

Anthony Cook

Looking to avenge the lack of success from Texas’ defense that contributed to a 5-7 season last fall, Cook will use his extra year of eligibility to bring the Longhorns closer to victory. The fifth-year senior serves as one of the most experienced defensive players on the team, having played in 46 games throughout his career as a Longhorn. The safety had eight starts and participated in all 12 games during his senior year, registering 47 total tackles and 27 solo tackles. Cook was one of five highly-recognized defensive backs in the 2018 high school class who signed when Texas was still led by Tom Herman. Of those five, Cook and Overshown are the only ones left on the roster.