Four Longhorns primed for breakout seasons

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Junior Jackson Jeffcoat, one of the best defensive ends in the country, scored his first touchdown in his college career against West Virginia
Junior Jackson Jeffcoat, one of the best defensive ends in the country, scored his first touchdown in his college career against West Virginia

With 19 starters returning, Texas will be one of college football’s most seasoned teams in 2013. Preseason rankings place the Longhorns at No. 15 in the nation. But can this football team really meet expectations? 

To do so, Texas will rely on increased production from a number of players in 2013. Below are four Longhorns primed for breakout seasons.

Jackson Jeffcoat:

Texas expects the senior defensive end to emerge as the leader of its defense. Jeffcoat has recorded 14.5 sacks in his 27 games with the Longhorns. In his 2011 sophomore season, he registered a career-high eight sacks and 21 tackles-for-loss. An injury in 2012 cut Jeffcoat’s season short, but he should surpass those numbers this year as the anchor of the Texas defensive line. With former defensive end Alex Okafor moving on to the NFL, expect the senior to rise to the occasion and become one of the most disruptive pass rushers in the Big 12. 

David Ash: 

David Ash is an inconsistent player at best, but this could be the year that the quarterback puts it all together and leads the Longhorn offense. As a junior, Ash is the most experienced quarterback in the conference, leading all returning Big 12 quarterbacks with 2,699 passing yards and 19 touchdown passes last season. Another year with receivers Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley should allow him to improve on those numbers. After a huge comeback performance in last year’s Valero Alamo Bowl, we can expect Ash to return with more confidence as he enters his third year.

Peter Jinkens:

Peter Jinkens made three starts and played in all 13 games during his 2012 freshman season. The linebacker recorded 18 tackles, including three for a loss, a sack and an interception. Jinkens should see a spike in playing time this season and could end up being the Longhorns’ best linebacker. His two best performances last year came in the team’s final two games, where he recorded a combined 15 tackles, a sack and an interception. Jinkens will get a chance to build on those performances early in 2013.

Daje Johnson:

In his 2012 freshman season, Johnson finished fourth on the team in both rushing and receiving yards. He hauled in 19 passes for 287 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 27 yards and a score, and was the most explosive player on the roster, averaging 15.1 yards per touch. Johnson could become an even bigger part of the Texas offense this year. With a trio of solid running backs ahead of him on the depth chart, Johnson could struggle to get as many carries but should still have an increased role in the backfield. On a team full of playmakers, Johnson has the chance to be the most electric of them all, and the sophomore could fill a major role as a jack-of-all-trades type in 2013.