HD Roundtable: Best Players this Season

Question: Who is the best offensive player and who is the best defensive player you have seen this season? And why? This can be a college or high school player.

Chip Brown’s Take

The best offensive player for Texas at mid-season seems like a three-man race between WR John Harris, RB Malcolm Brown and WR Jaxon Shipley. I will kind of talk my way through it to land at my pick.

The argument for Brown would be the tough-minded running he's done all year behind a remade line. Even though Brown is averaging just. 3.9 yards per carry (84 attempts for 324 yards) this season, he had 14 carries for 69 yards against UCLA (4.92 ypc) and provided the balance on the ground for Texas to move the ball and have a chance to win that game.

Brown also averaged 4.6 ypc against Baylor and 4.1 ypc against OU. Johnathan Gray is more of a home-run hitter and has a better yards-per-carry average (4.5), but Brown has been more consistent, in my opinion.

Without that threat of the run, Texas would have no play-action threat in the passing game for Tyrone Swoopes to connect with Shipley and Harris.

Shipley has been consistent and steady and has made the chains move in piling up a team-leading 38 receptions for 360 yards. But Harris has been more of a home-run threat at the receiver position with 31 catches for 460 yards (14.8 ypr) and 6 touchdowns.

On an offense starved for big plays, the best offensive player on the Texas team has to be fifth-year receiver John Harris because of how hard it's been for UT to score. Any player who can consistently deliver the production that Harris has is an enormous presence on this team and specifically this offense.

Harris gets a couple demerits for flags that have hurt the team (the holding call against OU that wiped out Swoopes' 73-yard run to the OU 15 moreso than the unsportsmanlike conduct flag after a 34-yard catch against Baylor). But, overall, he has also meant more to the offense than just about anyone because he has constantly encouraged Swoopes following their time together on the scout team.

My vote goes to Harris.

For defensive player of the mid-season, I think you have to give the slight edge to DT Malcom Brown over LB Jordan Hicks simply because without Brown, Hicks wouldn't be having the season he's having.

Both are playing at an MVP level. Hicks leads the team in tackles with 80, including 7 behind the line with 2 INTs.

Brown has 37 tackles, 9 behind the line with 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble. It all starts up front, and that means Malcolm Brown. But Hicks is playing at an all-conference level, too.

William Wilkerson’s Take

The best offensive player that I’ve seen this season, from Texas, would have to be John Harris.

What he’s done this season considering how little he’d contributed prior to this season at UT and how hard it is for Texas to score, has really been a sight to behold.

He’s overcome a ton to get to this point and is probably the most improved player in the Big 12, if not the country, with 31 receptions for 460 yards and six touchdowns (the only other Longhorn to catch a touchdown is M.J. McFarland, who has two).

Harris has had two costly penalties (a questionable unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after a 34-yard reception against Baylor and a hold that negated a 73-yard run by Tyrone Swoopes against OU). Other than those two hiccups, Harris has been far better than anyone could have expected.

The best defensive player I’ve seen this season has been Malcom Brown, who gets the slight edge over Jordan Hicks.

He’s simply been unblockable this season in the teeth of Texas’ defense and has really been the player that’s been most responsible for UT’s resurgence on that side of the ball.

Despite Texas’ record you could make an argument that he’s the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year at this point in the season.

Hicks has been remarkable too, especially when you consider that he’s missed 19 games over the last two seasons. He’s playing at an All-American level right now.

Jason Higdon’s Take

The best offensive player I have watched this season is running back Todd Gurley. He is 3rd in college football with 154 yards per game and checks in at No 13 with 8.22 yards per carry. Anyone who watches SEC football will tell you he has done it against the very best defenses in America for his entire career. Gurley is 6-foot-1, 230-pounds and has great speed for a big back. Todd Gurley is built for the NFL and will have a 10-year career on Sunday's.

It is not as clear cut on the defensive side of the ball for me personally. I have watched a ton of great players this season on the defensive side of the ball. Jordan Hicks has over 70 tackles; A.J. Johnson for Tennessee has been a beast! FR DB Quin Blanding could be the best player in America down at Virginia. Dakota Cox is the top tackler in the country with 83, averaging just under 14 tackles a game.

Down in Gainesville you have defensive end Dante Fowler, who some NFL teams believe is the best player in America. With his combination of size, speed, power and quickness I believe Fowler is the best defensive player I have watched. He faces countless double teams week in and week out but has maintained his ability to be very disruptive in the backfield.

Gabe Brooks’ Take

Quite a question we've got this week. I've seen a ton of great players on both sides of the ball during the first seven weeks of the high school football season.

Offensively, the first name to that comes to mind is Allen 2016 five-star offensive tackle Greg Little, who is committed to Texas A&M. I saw the 6-foot-6, 285-pound Little and two-time defending state champion Allen beat Denton Guyer 55-41 at North Texas' Apogee Stadium on the first Friday night of the season. Allen, who started at right tackle with Oklahoma-bound 2015 four-star prospect Bobby Evans playing the other side, was absolutely dominant. He completely neutralized a tall, athletic pass-rushing defensive end who has seven offers from Group of Five programs. Little possesses every trait you want in a prototypical tackle prospect. He's Scout's No. 1 prospect in the state of Texas and the No. 3 overall recruit in the 2016 class.

Defensively, I'd have to say Gladewater 2015 five-star defensive tackle Daylon Mack.

Mack, who's coming up on his one-year anniversary as an Aggie pledge (Oct. 21), dominated in a losing effort when I saw Gladewater fall 42-21 to Lafayette (La.) St. Thomas More on Sept. 12 in Shreveport. Mack made three tackles for loss, blocked a field goal and scored on a two-yard touchdown run while lining up as a short-yardage jumbo-set fullback. Mack possesses rare athleticism for a player of his bulk and mass. The state's No. 3-ranked player and No. 9-ranked overall prospect in the 2015 class, Mack isn't the hulking, space-eating interior defender, nor is he the long-armed, angular lineman. Rather, he's a human ball bearing and as densely built as an elite defensive tackle can be. He canceled his official visit to Florida and appears to once again be the Aggies' lead recruiter in the 2015 class.

Other names on offense: Denton Guyer 2017 four-star QB Shawn Robinson, Allen 2015 four-star QB Kyler Murray (Texas A&M), Cedar Hill 2015 five-star WR DaMarkus Lodge, Dallas South Oak Cliff 2015 four-star RB Jordan Stevenson (Texas), Dallas South Oak Cliff 2015 four-star WR J.F. Thomas, Plano West 2015 RB Sotonye "Soso" Jamabo, West Mesquite 2016 four-star WR Dee Anderson (LSU), West Mesquite 2015 four-star WR/OLB DeAndre McNeal, Keller 2015 four-star guard Maea Teuhema (LSU), Coppell 2015 three-star RB Charles West.

Other names on defenses: Plano West 2016 four-star OLB McKinley "Kiwi" Mitchell, Irondale (Ala.) Shades Valley 2015 five-star DT Daron Payne, Monroe (La.) Neville 2016 four-star DT Rashard Lawrence, Bossier City (La.) Parkway 2016 three-star CB C.J. Morgan, River Ridge (La.) John Curtis 2016 MLB Nathaniel Evans, Tyler John Tyler 2015 three-star CB Isaac Warren (Purdue), Gilmer 2015 four-star CB Kris Boyd, Dallas Skyline 2015 four-star MLB Anthony Wheeler.

Nick Castillo’s Take

Best offensive player: John Harris

Senior John Harris was essentially a nobody before this season started. Sure, he snagged a hail mary last season against Iowa State but other than that he wasn't a well-known player.

But this year Harris has been the go-to receiver this season. Harris has caught six touchdowns, two in the Cotton Bowl, and has 460 receiving yards this season.

The offense is working at its best when Harris is playing at his finest which makes him the best offensive player thus far.

Best defensive player: Jordan Hicks

It's easy to see how dominant junior defensive tackle Malcom Brown has been playing but how fifth-year senior Jordan Hicks has performed this season has been phenomenal.

After coming back from his second season-ending injury, Hicks is the team leader in tackles with 72 and also has 5.5 tackles for losses. Hicks has two interceptions this season and appears to be playing better than ever.


Longhorns 2015 QB commitment Zach Gentry's junior highlights


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