Top 22 Countdown: No. 10

We continue our countdown of the top 22 most important players to Texas’ success in 2014.

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.

No. 11.


Chip’s Pick

C Dominic Espinosa

Senior

6-2, 308

Espinosa was one of the first players identified by Charlie Strong and his staff as a key senior leader and starter on the offensive line. Some wonder if it was by default, but Strong and Co. don't do anything by default.

The bottom line is Espinosa is one of the smartest players on the team, plays with good technique, has started 39 career games and has learned the new offense inside and out and knows everyone's assignment.

The center can be as critical as the quarterback in reading the defense and identifying the middle linebacker and the strong and free safety before each play.

On an offensive line that is seen as one of the biggest question marks on the team, Espinosa's leadership becomes even more essential. Why? Because this group has a little bit of everything in terms of the entitlement that Strong is trying to eliminate. Two of the players - OTs Desmond Harrison and Kennedy Estelle - have basically been put on zero tolerance in terms of any more slip-ups in Strong's eyes.

Espinosa, who wasn't given enough help under the previous coaching staff when facing a bigger, stronger nose tackle, is the most important leader on the offensive line, because he has the respect of the rest of his position group. That's why he comes in at No. 10 on the list of most important players to Texas' success in 2014.





William’s Pick

WR Marcus Johnson

Junior

6-1, 193

At this point in time, with Jaxon Shipley on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, Johnson is the unquestioned leader of Texas’ wide receivers.

Even when Shipley returns – anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks – Johnson will still be looked upon as one of the leaders on this team and one of its best playmakers.

He really came into his own last season when he was called upon.

That happened in his first real opportunity last season against Kansas State when he caught five passes for 70 yards, including a 21-yard gain. He did not play a snap the two weeks prior due to a knee injury.

He followed that up with a 59-yard touchdown catch against Oklahoma. Then he hauled in three passes for 120 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown, against TCU.

With the uncertainty of Shipley’s hamstring, Daje Johnson inability to stay on the field, and unproven talent in Jacorey Warrick, Jake Oliver, and those five true freshmen WRs, Johnson’s importance to this group/team is paramount.

He’s breathing easier and is noticing he has better stamina since he had surgery to repair a deviated septum right before fall camp. Now it’s time for him to go make plays – lots of them – for a position that might not have many other options.





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