45 days until Texas Football: Bert Auburn striving for continued accuracy, Vernon Broughton looking for more snaps

On3 imageby:Steve Habel07/19/23

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Inside Texas is putting a new twist on long-time photographer Will Gallagher’s time-honored countdown to Texas football kickoff. In addition to Will’s great pictures, the Inside Texas staff will go through every player on the roster by jersey number and offer a season outlook on each, from five-star to walk-on. 

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We’ll also look back at other greats to wear that day’s number, with special reverence to some of Texas’ best. 

Today is 45 days until kickoff. No. 45 for the Longhorns this season will be worn by Vernon Broughton, a junior defensive lineman, and Bert Auburn, a junior placekicker.

Vernon Broughton season outlook

Broughton found snaps last year whenever Keondre Coburn, Moro Ojomo, T’Vondre Sweat, and Byron Murphy weren’t on the field. Often alongside Alfred Collins, Broughton was effective in pass-rush situations but struggled versus the run. According to PFF, his pass rushing grade was 65.9 but his run defense grade was a paltry 50.9, with two sub-40 performances down the stretch.

Opportunity exists for Broughton if he’s able to better anchor against the run, but the competition for those snaps remains stiff. Not only are Sweat and Murphy back, but Collins and arguably Trill Carter as well have more complete skillsets than Broughton at this juncture.

If the fourth-year player from the Houston area can improve against the rush and better hold his ground, he could find more opportunity. If not, he’ll be with the third line yet again.

Broughton has played in 27 games with one start in his three years at Texas and has recorded 13 tackles, eight of them solo, as well as two tackles for a loss and one sack.

He earned Academic All-Big 12 First Team honors in 2021 and is a three-time member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll (fall 2020, spring 2021, spring 2022).

Vernon Broughton as a recruit

Broughton was ranked as the No. 115 overall prospect, the No. 16 defensive lineman, and the No. 14 player in Texas in the 2020 On3 Industry Ranking, a proprietary algorithm that compiles ratings and rankings from all four primary recruiting media services.

Bert Auburn season outlook

Even with freshman Will Stone nipping at his heels, Auburn won the place-kicking job last year and turned in a highly successful 2022.

He nailed clutch kicks in the early portion of the season, putting the go-ahead kick versus Alabama and the game-tying kick versus Texas Tech through the uprights. He was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection and recorded had the fourth-most accurate season for a kicker in Longhorns history (21-of-26 for 80.8%). Auburn converted the last 12 field goal attempts of his campaign, including two in each game versus Kansas State, Kansas, and Washington.

Auburn doesn’t have the strongest leg among college kickers, but he can extend his range out to 49 and he only had one attempt blocked all year. Plus, he was a perfect 55-for-55 on extra points in addition to his accuracy on three-point tries.

Auburn will be a useful asset for Steve Sarkisian this season, who offered his opinions on his kicker in the spring.

“Bert Auburn kicked field goals for us a year ago and made some really big kicks,” Sarkisian said in April. “I’m going to name two. We take a bad sack against Alabama at the end of the game and he hits from 49 with a minute left to give us the lead, which was a critical kick. We had 16 seconds to run two plays to get those completions done, and he kicks a field goal from 40-something yards to tie the game at Tech. I know he’s a big game kicker. He missed a couple that I would like to have back, but I didn’t think our battery was very good — snap, hold — before the kick. There’s some things to clean up there.”

He was named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team in 2022 and is a three-time member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll (fall 2021, spring 2022, fall 2022).

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Recent player to wear No. 45: Anthony Wheeler

Anthony Wheeler at the Texas Bowl. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Wheeler played in 50 career games in his four years at Texas and had 29 career starts. He finished his career with 235 tackles (138 solo), 17.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks and also had three pass breakups, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two quarterback hurries.

Wheeler was a four-time member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll and was named to the Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team (2015-16).

Joe Cook co-authored this story

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