Previewing Texas football joining the SEC in 2024

Texas v Baylor
Texas v Baylor / Tim Warner/GettyImages

Texas football will join the SEC (Southeastern Conference) beginning on July 1, 2024. After being a member of the Big 12 since 1996, the Longhorns look to carry its premier program into arguably the best conference in college football.

Texas is fresh off having competed in the final College Football Playoff format that will feature only four teams. Beginning in 2024, the College Football Playoff will feature 12 teams and head coach Steve Sarkisian's squad aim to make another run at the national title. The Longhorns came up short against the Washington Huskies in the semi-final round of last season's playoffs.

The 2023 Big 12 champions lost substantial talent after last season on both sides of the ball. Star defensive players such as lineman T'Vondre Sweat (2023 Big-12 Defensive Player of the Year), lineman Byron Murphy II (2023 first-team All-Big 12), and linebacker Jaylan Ford (2022-23 first-team All-Big 12) all declared for the 2024 NFL Draft and are projected to be picked in the first three rounds. Offensively, the Longhorns lose wideout Jordan Whittington (42 catches, 505 yards), tight end Ja'Tavion Sanders (45 catches, 682 yards), halfback Jonathan Brooks (2023 second-team All-Big 12), wideout Adonai Mitchell (55 catches, 845 yards), and speedster wideout Xavier Worthy (75 catches, 1,014 yards) as they also will be participants in the draft.

Fortunately, the Longhorns will retain the services of quarterback Quinn Ewers, as he looks to build off of his solid campaign in 2023. Despite having missed two games due to injury, Ewers tossed for 3,479 yards, and 22 touchdowns while having completed 8.8 yards per pass attempt. The former Ohio State quarterback had an impressive performance against Alabama on the road last September. Ewers threw for 349 yards, and three touchdowns and played a prominent part in handing the Crimson Tide's first out-of-conference home loss since 2007.

The Texas wide receiver room was one of the best in the nation in 2023, but despite the subtraction of its top pass catchers, the Longhorns wideout room looks promising.

Former five-star recruit in the 2023 recruiting class Johntay Cook will look to make a bigger impact in 2024. In 2023, he had only eight receptions but he's bound to produce more this season since a bevy of receiving talent is headed towards the NFL. Matthew Golden, who transferred from Houston (38 catches, 404 yards), should thrive in the Texas offense in 2024. Deandre Moore Jr. played a minimal role as a freshman last season and didn't record a catch for the Longhorns, but he could potentially have a breakout season due to his familiarity with the offense.

Former Alabama tight end Amari Niblack signed with the Longhorns to fill the vacant tight end spot. Niblack tallied 20 receptions for 327 yards last season and should have much more of a presence in the Texas offense. Perhaps the most notable addition to the Longhorns' wideout room is former Alabama pass-catcher Isaiah Bond. Bond tallied 48 catches for 668 yards last season for Alabama as he looks to be the de facto No. 1 option for Ewers.

Defensively, the Longhorns ranked third in the nation in rushing defense (2.9 yards per rush) and tied for seventh in the country in red-zone defense in 2023, respectively. They played with physicality and grittiness, which led to its defense being one of the best in the country when it came to stopping the run. Since the defense lost key pieces, who can step up and fill the gaps?

Texas signed former UTSA edge rusher Trey Moore and former five-star recruit Colin Simmons to help provide a solid pass rush. Moore tallied 14 sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception last season for the Roadrunners. Sophomore defensive end Ethan Burke, who garnered 5.5 sacks in 2023, returns to the Longhorns and aims to make an even bigger splash after being an honorable mention for the 2023 All-Big 12 team. Linebacker Anthony Hill Jr. will have a bigger role in the heart of the defense since Ford departed for the draft. Hill garnered five sacks and 67 total tackles last season and was named Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2023. Interiorly, Alfred Collins and Vernon Broughton will likely carry the responsibility of the voids left by Sweat and Murphy. Collins and Broughton are both fifth-year linemen who hope to continue their dominance at the line of scrimmage.

The new-look Texas defense will certainly be tested in the SEC.

How will Texas fare in the SEC after the mass loss of talent to the NFL? Can the new talent Texas acquired continue its success in the conference that is called "the closest conference to the NFL"?

Way-too-early Top 25 projections for 2024. dark. Next. Way-too-early Top 25 projections for 2024