New defensive stars rise to the top
Texas will face Washington on Thursday night in the Valero Alamo Bowl after finishing with an 8-4 regular season record. Many of Texas’ deficiencies from the 2021 season were addressed with the rapid emergence of defensive players like Jaylan Ford, Jahdae Barron and Barryn Sorrell.
Here are five players who exceeded expectations in 2022:
Linebacker Jaylan Ford
Although the junior linebacker played in all twelve regular-season games as a sophomore in 2021, Ford made a big jump at his position in 2022. He reached a career-high 109 tackles, with 56 of them were solo. The Frisco native was named a 12th All-First Team selection after his breakout season.
He tied the record for interceptions in a season for Texas linebackers and all four of his tackles on the season led to touchdowns.
Defensive back Jahdae Barron
Third-year defensive back Jahdae Barron was a bright spot in Texas’ loss to TCU this season. Barron’s comeback against TCU was Texas’ longest since 2005 and was the third-longest in program history. Barron also had his first career game with 10+ tackles against Texas Tech and set a new career high of 12 tackles against Oklahoma State. His previous career high of four hits was set in 2021.
Tight End Ja’Tavion Sanders
Sophomore tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders spent most of his freshman season on special teams in 2021. As a sophomore, he was named a John Mackey Award semifinalist after recording 577 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Sanders also earned All-Big 12 First Team honors this year.
EDGE Barry Sorrell
Sophomore Barryn Sorrell saw more time on the field this year and made the most of it. The New Orleans native played in all 12 regular season games and started 10 of them. He had 41 tackles, nine tackles for loss, one forced fumble, 5.5 sacks, one pass breakup and five quarterback hurries late in the season. Sorrell was named a Big 12 Honorable Mention for his outstanding sophomore season.
Linebacker Cole Hutson
Freshman offensive lineman Cole Hutson had a solid freshman season. Hutson arrived at the Forty Acres early to put in the work needed to earn a starting spot. Hutson was a key player on the offensive line that allowed Bijan Robinson to do what he does best. Hutson also helped block punt return Jonathan Brooks against Kansas, and will likely have to do so again in the Alamo Bowl and in the 2023 season.