1) Reggie Wilson, defensive end
The former five-star prospect has often had the respect of his teammates for the way he rushes the passer. But now he's getting that talk from the coaches, too, an important distinction. Can Wilson take the momentum he's gained from Jackson Jeffcoat's absence to make himself a regular part of the rotation? The ability's certainly there.
2) Steve Edmond, linebacker
Unless you've been living under a rock (not that there's anything wrong with that), the Texas players and coaches can't stop raving about Edmond, the 260-plus-pound middle linebacker. Edmond runs like a player 30-pounds lighter, and has more athletic potential than the savvy veterans he played behind last year.
3) Demarco Cobbs, linebacker
Will Cobbs be at mid-season form? No. He missed the first half of spring practice with an injury. But you should be able to see just what Cobbs's speed can bring, even though Texas will be keeping things relatively vanilla. With Hicks entrenched and Edmond emerging, Texas needs to fill the other spot. And Cobbs could be a heck of a player there.
4) Orlando Thomas, cornerback
Thomas jumped out immediately as a player who not only had the requisite athleticism, but as somebody who had the mentality to be a good defender. And with the injury to Quandre Diggs, it will be especially interesting to see if Thomas earns a spring game start next to Carrington Byndom, or if they go with somebody like Josh Turner.
5) Mykkele Thompson, safety
Maybe I should have put an 'and Josh Turner' on each of the last two. The injury absence of Adrian Phillips opens up another spot with the ones, and either Thompson or Turner will take the safety spot opposite Kenny Vaccaro. Thompson blends athleticism with a great work ethic, and the coaches have said he's like a sponge in absorbing coaching points.