Lone Star 25: 15-11
Our countdown of the 25 most important college players in Texas continues.
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.
15. LB Derrick Matthews, Houston
Look, we all know the Cougars are going to pile up yards and light up the scoreboard. But how will the defense fare? Well, last year Houston ranked among the top teams in the nation in forced turnovers and finished 20th in points allowed per game. If the Cougars are going to build on 2013 and win an AAC title, they’re going to need a similar performance in 2014. And it all starts with linebacker Derrick Matthews. The heart and soul of the unit, Matthews racked up 116 tackles and seven sacks last year. He is one of the best linebackers in Houston history, and this team could be one as well.
14. QB Bryce Petty, Baylor
Now's probably a good time to remind you that this is a list of the most important players in Texas, and not necessarily a ranking of the best. If it were the latter, Petty would certainly find himself higher on the list. But the Baylor signal-caller, while tremendously important to the Bears, is more of a constant — we tend to know what we'll see from the Midlothian product, and that's excellence. Is his play critical to the Bears' white-hot offense? Absolutely. But considering not only Petty's recent track record but the track record of all BU quarterbacks in the past half-decade, consider him more of a given than a variable.
13. LB Jordan Hicks, Texas
Besides quarterback, Texas’ biggest question mark might be the linebacker corps. The Longhorns struggled defensively last season and really missed Hicks, who missed the final nine games of the year with a torn ACL. When Hicks has been healthy, he’s been almost unstoppable. But that’s been a rarity— Hicks also missed most of his junior year with a hip injury. If the fifth-year senior can avoid injuries— and that’s a big if— the Texas defense should make big strides, which is imperative when you take into account the amount of firepower in the Big 12.
12. OL Spencer Drango, Baylor
Want to talk about one of the most underappreciated aspects of Baylor's offense? The play of Drango, who held down the Bears' left tackle spot nearly flawlessly last season, was absolutely essential to their success, and it was never more evident than when he went down to a back injury that eventually required surgery. That happened after the Texas Tech game and before the Oklahoma State game. Let's just go to the numbers.
Baylor's offense in nine games with Drango at LT: 61.2 points and 684.7 total yards per game (8-0 in those games)
Baylor's offense in four games without Drango: 32.5 points and 470.2 total yards per game (2-2 in those games)
Needless to say, Drango's health and effectiveness will go a long way toward determining how good the Baylor offense is in 2014.
11. QB Tucker Carter, UTSA
It’s time for a new era in the Alamo City. Eric Soza, the only quarterback UTSA has ever known, is out, and JUCO transfer Tucker Carter is in. Carter, a former star at Allen, spent most of last season picking up the system after coming in from Trinity Valley CC, where he was named the 2011 SWJCFC Offensive Player of the Year. Carter played in five games last season -- mostly in garbage time-- and completed close to 70 percent of his passes. If he can produce similar numbers when it counts, there is a good chance UTSA will go bowling for the first time in program history.
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