Top 22 Countdown: No. 11

We continue our countdown of the top 22 most important players to Texas’ success in 2014. We’ll run these every Tuesday and Thursday.

Here is a look at our previous selections:

No. 22.

No. 21.

No. 20.

No. 19.

No. 18.

No. 17.

No. 16.

No. 15.

No. 13.

Chip’s Pick

LB Jordan Hicks


6-2, 244

Let's be honest, Texas needs a difference-maker at linebacker. That has been hard to find the past two years because Hicks, a five-star talent pit of the state of Ohio recruited by Will Muschamp, has been hurt.

In 2012, it was a groin injury and off the field headlines when he and Case McCoy were suspended for the Alamo Bowl.

Last season, it was a torn Achilles and recently an off the field headline for accepting a meal from an agent (although he and LB Steve Edmond have been cleared by the NCAA and won't miss any game action).

Those trends need to be replaced by a breakthrough season at outside linebacker.

Hicks has always been seen as a player leader on the team. And he was leading the team in tackles when he suffered the Achilles injury against Kansas State last season.

But if his career ended right now, his time at Texas would be seen as a bust. Hicks knows time is running out. It's now or never.

He doesn't need to press. He just needs to be prepared, so he can show the instinctive athleticism that made him a five-star prospect. We are being told he hasn't lost a step after the Achilles injury. We'll see. If true, Hicks is capable of an all-conference type season. And in the Big 12's land of loaded offense, Texas needs Hicks to play himself into an NFL draft pick.

William’s Pick

OL Jake Raulerson

RS Freshman

6-5, 290

You’ve already seen the importance of Raulerson through one fall practice.

How, you ask?

Joe Wickline trusts Raulerson and proved as much on Monday by working the usual center with the first team at right tackle ahead of Kennedy Estelle.

Estelle, remember, started eight games in replace of Josh Cochran in 2013. He’s got the trump card on Raulerson as far as experience goes.

But Raulerson has proven to the coaching staff time and time again that he’ll do what it takes to help the team. Estelle doesn’t always give off that impression.

So I believe you’ll see Raulerson start at RT in the season opener as Wickline waits for Estelle to pick things up. And, by then, it might be too late for Estelle to get his job back if Raulerson works as hard as we all know he will.

I do think Raulerson will eventually move back to center and start the next couple of seasons there in place of Dominic Espinosa. But he could see valuable PT for a few games at RT. And even if he’s eventually unseated by Estelle you can bet Raulerson will be credited with helping Estelle step his game up.

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