Lone Star 25: The Top 5
Our countdown of the 25 most important college players in Texas concludes.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football is introducing the Lone Star 25, a countdown of the 25 most important Texas college football players in 2014. Keep in mind: this is not necessarily a ranking of the top 25 best college football players in Texas, but rather the 25 players whose performance will most impact the college football scene in Texas in 2014.
5. LB Bryce Hager, Baylor
With Bryce Petty and Antwan Goodley back in the fold, Baylor’s offense is sure to be explosive. But what about the defense? If there’s been a weakness during the Bears’ meteoric rise to the top tier of the Big 12, it’s been on the defensive side of the ball. Phil Bennett’s unit did show improvement last year, but it returns just four starters. Among them is Hager, who must continue to be the heart of this defense. Hager, the Big 12’s leading tackler in 2012, missed four games last season and all of spring with injuries, so it is imperative for him to stay healthy and help the Baylor D develop chemistry.
4. QB David Ash, Texas
Things...haven't gone well for quarterbacks at Texas ever since Colt McCoy graduated following the 2009 season. Since and including 2010, Longhorns QBs have averaged 2,848.7 yards per season with 17.25 touchdowns and 14.5 interceptions on 60.1% completion. Essentially, they've been like Middle Tennessee QB Logan Kilgore was last year. There's nothing wrong with Logan Kilgore — he's a fine signal-caller — but what's acceptable at MTSU and what's acceptable at Texas are miles apart. And so David Ash, still battling injuries from the head injury that cost him most of 2013 to the foot injury that kicked off spring practice in 2014, enters his senior season with outrageous expectations. In the end, the Texas offense falls back on his shoulders, and how he performs will largely determine the Longhorns' fate.
3. QB John O’Korn, Houston
DCTF has extremely high expectations for Houston this season. The Cougars, after all, are coming off an 8-5 season despite being very youthful on both sides of the ball. We could easily see the 2014 version of this team dethroning UCF and making it to a major bowl game. But that all starts with triggerman O’Korn. Despite only knowing some of Houston’s playbook, O’Korn was fabulous as a freshman, throwing for 3,117 yards and 28 touchdowns. Can he avoid a sophomore slump?
2. DE Devonte Fields, TCU
Here's a bold statement: Devonte Fields is the most talented player in Texas. Now, that is certainly up for debate, but considering how absolutely dominant he was as a freshman, there's a pretty solid case that Fields is Texas' best. Which is what makes his 2013 season — riddled by suspension and injury — so frustrating. Fields is back, reportedly healthy and reportedly ready to roll for the 2014 season, and his addition could turn an already good TCU defense into a lethal one. But he still presents more questions than answers, considering last season. When he's on the field, he's a force of nature. Now, the issue — and what makes him one of the most important players in Texas for 2014 — is how often he can get there.
1. QB Kenny Hill or Kyle Allen, Texas A&M
Whoever wins the starting gig in Aggieland will have the daunting task of replacing one of the most prolific and exciting players in college football history. On top of that, there is immense pressure to keep the momentum Johnny Manziel and the move to the SEC created. If A&M wants to be more than just a middle of the road team in arguably the toughest conference in the country, it will be up to Hill or Allen to help the Aggies take the next step. Of course the defense has to improve, but quarterback is the most important position on the field, and there can’t be a major drop-off under center even if Manziel was one of a kind. Hill, a sophomore from Southlake Carroll, is the favorite to win the job but remember, Allen was rated as the No. 1 overall quarterback in 2014.
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