Players to Watch
Sam Ehlinger, quarterback
Injuries consumed the Texas quarterback position, so Shane Buechele and Sam Ehlinger split time. Neither player stood out enough to make this a landslide battle in one player’s direction. So, with a new season on the way, it’s an opportunity for someone to make an impression.
Will this be Ehlinger? He arguably fits Tom Herman’s system better as a two-way quarterback that can run all over the field with the ball (381 rushing yards in 2017). Buechele flashed what he showed in 2016, but the now-sophomore signal caller finished with more passing and rushing yards than his teammate.
Will Ehlinger show improvement? If not, could he open the door for a summer-long competition?
Toneil Carter, running back
No one broke out of the Texas backfield in 2017, as a multi-player effort was used to replace D’Onta Foreman. Ehlinger, Kyle Porter, Chris Warren III, Daniel Young and Toneil Carter all topped 250 yards on the ground, but none of them topped two touchdowns.
Entering 2017, Carter appeared to be a frontrunner for carries. He joined Texas as a member of Herman’s first class, as a four-star recruit, and looked to establish himself. While that did not happen, he still rushed for 4.8 yards per carry.
Can Carter use the spring game as a boost for the 2018 season? There’s a crowd of players that will vie for carries, so let’s see if he does enough to stand out.
Elijah Rodriguez, left tackle
When star left tackle Connor Williams departed for the 2018 NFL Draft, it opened a hole on the offensive line, one that will be difficult to fill. Williams was among the top offensive lineman in college football and protected the quarterback carousel in 2017.
Someone must replace the future first-round pick, of course. That man may be Elijah Rodriguez, who did not play last season due to injury. He could have the opportunity by default, after playing well in the team’s bowl game, unless someone else steps up on Saturday or this summer.
Whoever becomes the left tackle will be led by Herb Hand, tasked as the new offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator. How will he play into Rodriguez’s development?