Gabe Brook’s pick
I always love following the action in the trenches, so I'm gonna go with the offensive line.
The offensive front is where Texas had the advantage for such a long time during its impressive run under Mack Brown, but for the past few seasons, it has definitely been a position group that has seen its share of struggles.
For Texas to get back to being Texas, so to speak, the Longhorns need to be able to dictate the action at the point of attack on the offensive side of the ball. Even with the departure of Joe Bergeron, Texas is as talented, if not more, than any other team in the Big 12 at the running back position. The news of Johnathan Gray's promising health status is further fuel for the belief that if the Longhorns have a solid offensive line unit, they should be on the right track to re-establishing themselves as the type of team that can be a will-killer in crucial moments of games with their rushing attack.
Keeping David Ash upright and in the lineup is another huge reason Texas has to have improved offensive line performance this season. If the line can play to the level that the backfield is capable, Texas will be in good shape.
The offensive line is sometimes the heartbeat of a team. It steadies a group when it needs steadying, but can fire up a sideline the next moment. Texas doesn't need its offensive line to be the best in the country, but it needs that unit to make significant strides in the next few weeks in preparation for the 2014 season.
Chip Brown’s pick
Give me the receivers.
After watching Monday's afternoon practice with the youngins, I was happy to see that all of our summer workout reports glowing about freshman WR Armanti Foreman were not in vain.
The guy looks like an instant contributor. And I don't normally anoint after watching a player for one practice. But I'm breaking all the rules and anointing Foreman.
I'm also intrigued by WR Roderick Bernard, who looks like a Daje Johnson starter kit. And I'm talking about on-field skills only. It was eerie on Monday when Bernard started in on drills wearing No. 27 - Johnson's number his first year. I thought, "Did Daje go back to his old number?" Then I looked at the roster, and it was Bernard. Bring it on, young man.
And Charlie Strong made it clear he thinks freshmen can play receiver as first-year players, because it's all about speed and athleticism for those guys.
Marcus has the potential to blow the doors off this season. So does Daje, if he keeps his mind right.
There are more answers at this position than people realize. But I'm still most fascinated by watching the receiver position battle develop this fall camp.
William Wilkerson’s pick
I’m going to follow Gabe’s lead and go with the offensive line as well. I think it’s the most interesting position group in the program this season for a lot of reasons.
You’ve got one full-time starter returning in Dominic Espinosa. The one with the closest amount of starter experience – Kennedy Estelle – is starting off fall camp as the No. 2 right tackle behind Jake Raulerson, a center.
Then you’ve got a healthy Kent Perkins starting at left tackle in place of the suspended Desmond Harrison, and then little-used Taylor Doyle starting ahead of talented redshirt freshman Rami Hammad at right guard.
I think Perkins is the best offensive lineman on this roster. He’s going to make it incredibly tough for the coaching staff to move him from that spot once Harrison comes back. If that happens, or even if they do put Harrison back at LT, then what?
You could see Harrison at LT, Sedrick Flowers at LG and Dominic Espinosa at center. But what happens to the right side of that line? Raulerson won’t settle for just simply being moved back to being a backup center. But how do you manage PT for him, Perkins, Estelle, Doyle, and Hammad with two positions? Not to mention someone like Darius James, one of the top linemen in the country two years ago, who looks like he’s in tremendous shape.
What is clear is Wickline has plenty of talent to work with, as much as any Texas OL has had in five-plus seasons. He just has to figure out who goes where and when, and that won’t be easy.
Jason Higdon’s pick
I am most interested in the QB position and J. Heard.
I have heard tremendous things about Heard and the "IT" factor. He carries himself in the manner in which you want your 5th year senior to do and Heard already has it right out of the gate. He has tremendous skills and ability on AND off the field. He has taken charge since day one of arriving in Austin and it has continued in everything he has done from workouts to running. Heard could be poised to have a big freshmen season with the Longhorns.
I think both could see time in the rotation before the season is over. Two different body types but both players can really move and have been impressive so far with Texas.
Ahmard Vital’s pick
If it comes down to the Texas commitment whom I want to see the most, I think that Burton defensive end Louis Brown is one I want to check in on. With his overall build and range, I want to see how his body has developed, and will continue to do so all the way up to the time he arrives to Austin. But due to the travel time, that is not likely to happen at this point before the start of the season.
Equally, a player whom I plan to check in on is (from the Greater Houston region) North Shore running back Tristian Houston, a Texas commit who seems to be one of the least talked about guys in the current class. And as was shared with a member of the North Shore staff, Houston is not one who does anything that will make lots of highlight reels, but his contributions to a football team is invaluable. This off season, I want to see how much better he has gotten. Speed is there, as is power, but seeing if there is something new to his already punishing attack style of running is something to pay attention to.
Plus, there were a few graduates from the offensive line (though Tyler Moore is still there and he is nasty) since last season and a new head coach too. So watching Houston this offseason and upcoming season is something to which I look forward too.