Texas football kicks off spring practice Tuesday. We answer 24 questions for the 2024 team

Things certainly look fresh for the 2024 college football season, especially on the Texas campus.
There’s a new conference for the Longhorns, if you haven’t heard. And there’s a new postseason structure with 12 teams qualifying for the College Football Playoff, which can only help Texas’ CFP hopes as it readies for its first SEC campaign.
And there are plenty of new faces on the Texas football team, which went 12-2 last season while qualifying for its first CFP.
Have questions about the 2024 Texas football team as it readies for the start of spring football Tuesday? We have some answers.
1. Who's the starting quarterback going to be?
We'll get this question answered right off the bat. Quinn Ewers is the starter, as coach Steve Sarkisian has consistently confirmed at every press availability over the past two months. Arch Manning, perhaps the most famous backup in college football history, will spend his redshirt freshman season as the No. 2, barring any injuries.
2. Speaking of, word on the street is that Ewers put on weight, right?
He did indeed, based on UT's spring roster. Ewers added 10 pounds to his 6-foot-2 inch frame and now is listed at 205 pounds. Coaches hope that added weight can offer a bit more protection for him; Ewers has been banged up in each of the past two seasons.
3. Anyone else put on weight, based on that spring roster?
Yep, lots. The Texas athletic dining hall must be a popular spot. The most noticeable weight gains include returning running back Savion Red and Alabama linebacker transfer Kendrick Blackshire. Red, who got most of his spot-duty carries in a wildcat formation behind center, added 26 pounds and now weights 240. That probably enhances his chances as Texas’ short-yardage power back, or it might signal a switch to a fullback or H-back position. We’ll see soon enough in practice. And the 6-2, 261-pound Blackwell has gained 28 pounds from his listed weight with the Crimson Tide.
4. Anyone as big as T’Vondre Sweat?
Oh, yeah, which is hard to believe for anyone who has stood beside the 6-4, 366-pound Sweat, who will be a high pick at defensive tackle in next month’s NFL draft. The biggest of the bunch? Defensive tackle Sydir Mitchell (6-6, 372) and guard Connor Stroh (6-7, 372).
5. OK, Red is a reserve running back. Who’s the starter?
Good question, although Sarkisian and his staff always mention that the role of a starter is somewhat insignificant in an era of player rotation. CJ Baxter and Jaydon Blue formed a nice combination in the second half of last season, and they’re both back.
6. Didn’t Texas sign some elite high school RBs?
The Longhorns certainly did. Sarkisian and running backs coach Tashard Choice have been recruiting that position at an elite level. Jerrick Gibson from Florida was the No. 5 running back prospect in the country, according to 247Sports' composite rankings, and Arizona’s Christian Clark is another four-star recruit. Could either factor in the rotation, or will both be redshirts candidates? We’ll start to find out in spring practice.
7. Are there any other freshmen who could make an impact?
A young and talented receiving corps will include several star freshmen, but Ryan Wingo looks the most ready for immediate action. The 6-2, 208-pound five-star recruit from St. Louis could immediately fill a role as a physical downfield threat, depending on how quickly he adjusts to Ewers and the college game.
8. Who will be Texas' go-to receiver?
Another good question that it's too early to answer. Will it be former Alabama star Isaiah Bond or perhaps Houston transfer Matthew Golden? Both have plenty of collegiate experience. And Johntay Cook II, the speedster from DeSoto who flashed his potential as a freshman in 2023, has assumed the No. 1 jersey from the departed Xavier Worthy. Perhaps that’s a symbolic passing of the torch.
9. Who takes over at tight end?
With Ja’Tavion Sanders gone, Alabama transfer Amari Niblack is likely to assume the role of the receiving tight end, considering his skill set. And veteran Gunnar Helm will probably see an expanded role, too, considering his blocking skills and underrated receiving ability.
10. Who’s back on the offensive line?
Four of the five starters, which is great news for Ewers and the running game. Right tackle Christian Jones, a likely pick in next month’s draft, is the only starter who’s gone.
11. Who will start in place of Christian Jones?
Cam Williams, a 6-5, 360-pound junior from Duncanville, seems the likely choice since he started at right tackle in the one 2023 game Jones missed with an injury. Keep an eye on freshman Brandon Banks, a five-star recruit from California who projects as the heir apparent to Kelvin Banks Jr. at left tackle but might be too talented to keep off the field.
12. How can Texas replace Byron Murphy II and T'Vondre Sweat?
Can you? Murphy and Sweat formed one of the most dominant tackle tandems in recent memory. The coaches hope a handful of players can separate themselves from a group that includes Mitchell, Alfred Collins, Vernon Broughton, Jaray Bledsoe, Tiaoalii Savea and Aaron Bryant.
13. Will any of those tackles approach All-American status?
Collins, a 6-5, 321-pounder from Cedar Creek, has potential but needs consistency. The coaching staff persuaded him to stay for one more season and enhance his draft stock by taking that next step, much as Murphy and Sweat did last season.
14. What about the edge spots?
Well, Ethan Burke and Barryn Sorrell were somewhat overlooked last season, and both return. Both excel against the run.
15. But what about sacks? Who can get after quarterbacks?
UTSA transfer Trey Moore certainly can. The junior had 14½ sacks a year ago and will give the defense what it hasn’t had in years: a proven pass-rushing specialist. Oh, and freshman Colin Simmons from Duncanville was the top-rated edge rusher in the nation for his class.
16. Will we see Anthony Hill Jr. rush the passer more?
Spring will give us a big clue about his primary position. The versatile Hill has put on 9 pounds and now weighs 243, so he can line up at myriad spots. He has some instinctive pass-rushing moves, but Texas might not have to use him as much on the edge with the arrival of Moore and Simmons.
17. Who else is back at linebacker?
Starter David Gbenda returns for a fifth season, so he teams with Hill to form a strong core tandem. Blackshire didn’t come to Austin to sit on the bench, and Morice Blackwell looks poised for a strong senior season. Watch explosive sophomore Liona Lefau, a slightly built but speedy backer who could become part of the rotation.
18. What kind of player is Andrew Mukuba, and where will he fit in?
Another prized arrival via the portal, the former Clemson safety started three seasons for the Tigers and will give Texas a savvy, skilled ballhawk. The 6-foot, 180-pound Mukuba isn’t big for a free safety and has just one career interception, but he’s a sure tackler with good instincts and awareness. He’ll probably slide into a starting role as a free safety who can cover slot receivers.
19. Why does Mukuba’s name sound real familiar?
Well, he’s an Austin kid who helped lead LBJ to a state championship game. And he’s got plenty of homegrown company in the secondary; the 512 crew also includes Westlake graduate Michael Taaffe and Connally product Jahdae Barron.
20. Will the pass defense be better?
It better be if Texas wants to survive its first foray into the SEC and contend for the CFP. The weak spot for the defense all last season, the pass defense allowed 430 yards in the CFP semifinal loss to Washington. Those DBs will get tested early and often by Ewers and Manning in spring ball.
21. Is that curly-haired kid back at kicker?
You mean Bert Auburn? Yep, and he’s been leading his best life in the spring while popping up everywhere from Texas basketball games and Austin FC matches to local television ads. He’s one of the best kickers in the nation.
22. What about punter?
The Longhorns will go from having graduate All-American candidate Ryan Sanborn to a true freshman in Michael Kern. And Kern’s not on campus yet, which means sophomore walk-on Ian Ratliff will have a chance to impress the coaches in the spring.
23. Are Texas practices open to the public?
Nope. Sarkisian doesn’t want the prying eyes of reporters at practice, let alone those of fans. These Longhorns prefer to do their work in private.
24. When’s the spring game?
The fans’ first chance to see the 2024 Longhorns will come on Saturday, April 20, at Royal-Memorial Stadium. And it’ll be free for the fans.

Latest Player Notes

How a Wisconsin legend got his German protégé into Badgers pro day

Mar 15, 2024 Marlon Werthmann put his life on hold for the opportunity in front of him Friday at the McClain Center.Werthmann ...

Why former Wisconsin football running back Braelon Allen didn't run the 40 at pro day

Mar 15, 2024 Braelon Allen’s sweat covered his shirt and dripped off his beard as he approached a group of reporters Friday.The ...

How can UW recruit its best class ever? It starts with these five prospects

By Andy Yamashita Seattle Times staff reporter Jedd Fisch has lofty recruiting goals at Washington. He didn’t waste any ...

Texas football kicks off spring practice Tuesday. We answer 24 questions for the 2024 team

Things certainly look fresh for the 2024 college football season, especially on the Texas campus.There’s a new conference ...

College Football Playoff: Conferences solve their differences (for now) and agree on general framework for 2026 and beyond

The FBS conferences and Notre Dame agreed on Friday to continue the College Football Playoff beyond the 2025 season, signing ...

Ball security, leadership key as Aztecs look to identify starting quarterback

San Diego State seemingly auditions a new starting quarterback on an annual basis.In the past 12 years, the Aztecs have opened ...

Results and more: A look at what happened at Penn State football’s Pro Day inside Holuba Hall

Most of those at Penn State’s Pro Day Friday were relatively quiet throughout the afternoon’s workouts, but there was one ...

Defense dominates first two weeks of Oregon State spring practice as Beavers ready for 2-week breather

CORVALLIS – Oregon State hit the break of spring practices Saturday, not exactly the midpoint but a good place to assess ...

Dillon Gabriel to have similar input, autonomy as Bo Nix had in Oregon’s offense

Published Mar. 16, 2024, 6:26 p.m.By James CrepeaEUGENE — Dillon Gabriel will have much of the same autonomy as Bo Nix did ...

Two transfers, one underclassman who impressed in Missouri football's spring game

With that, spring camp’s a wrap.Missouri football held its Black & Gold spring game Saturday in front of a healthy crowd ...
See More Player Notes