A Big 12 Championship season that resulted in a berth in the College Football Playoff was due in large part to the proper utilization of talent on the Texas Longhorns roster. As part of a week-long countdown of the top 101 players in college football, PFF listed five Longhorns in their list of the best the sport has to offer.
Defensive tackle T’Vondre Sweat, who was the Big 12 defensive player of the year, a unanimous All-American, and the winner of the Outland Trophy, was the highest ranked Texas football player. Sweat was the No. 9 player in college football in 2023 according to PFF.
Sweat posted 45 tackles with 8.0 for loss and 2.0 sacks along with four passes defended in 2023. Here’s what PFF had to say about Sweat.
Sweat led all defensive tackles in overall grade, run-defense grade and PFF WAR. He was the biggest reason Texas ranked sixth in the nation in run-defense grade. He also posted an 85.3 pass-rush grade — a top-10 mark at the position. Quarterback Quinn Ewers and the offense garnered most of the spotlight, but Sweat was the Longhorns’ best player.
Four other Longhorns joined Sweat.
Tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders was No. 100, one ahead of Notre Dame safety and Nagurski Trophy winner Xavier Watts. Sanders had 682 yards in 2023 and leaves Texas as one of the top tight ends in school history. Brock Bowers may be TE1 in the upcoming draft, but Sanders has a strong chance to be the next tight end off the board in the 2024 Draft.
Left tackle Kelvin Banks was ranked No. 89. Banks, who has started every game in his first two seasons at Texas at left tackle, had a season long PFF pass-blocking grade of 86.8.
Running back Jonathon Brooks checked in at the No. 58 spot, one place ahead of Kansas State tight end Ben Sinnott and one spot behind Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders. Brooks, who declared for the NFL draft, rushed for 1139 yards and 10 touchdowns on 187 carries before he tore his ACL versus TCU. He’s considered one of the top running backs in the draft.
Big 12 defensive lineman of the year Byron Murphy was ranked as the No. 26 player in college football, one spot behind worthy opponent and Kansas State offensive lineman Cooper Beebe. Murphy, who has been shooting up recent NFL mock drafts, tallied 29 tackles with 8.5 for loss and 5.0 sacks in 2023.
The top five, from five to one, was LSU wideout Malik Nabers, Oregon quarterback Bo Nix, Washington quarterback Michael Penix, UCLA EDGE Laiatu Latu, and Heisman Trophy-winning LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels.