Texas 22: Countdown by importance- Nos. 18-13

Texas needs a lot of things to go right in 2015 to have a chance to improve on a 6-7 record in a Big 12 that should have TCU and Baylor in the Top 10 to start the season.

Here's my Top 22 players by order of importance to the success of Texas' 2015 season and why beginning with Nos. 18-13:

No. 18. Holton Hill, CB, true freshman

I'm stepping out on a limb here in saying I think Hill takes over the corner spot created by the knee injury suffered by fifth-year senior Sheroid Evans. Hill, who is 6-3 and had 12 INTs last season at Houston Lamar, would have to beat out Bryson Echols, Antwuan Davis, Kris Boyd and Davante Davis. I think Hill is going to be special.

No. 17. Connor Williams, OT, freshman

It's hard to temper my expectations for Williams as a true freshman OT. But I'll try - out of fairness to him. Williams showed in the spring he has the size and feet to contribute as a freshman. He has a long way to go. He struggled with the bull rush of a guy like Poona Ford (but many Big 12 OL will struggle with that, in my opinion). Williams gets to the second level well, something Texas struggled with all of last season. If Williams really comes on, he'll challenge Marcus Hutchins at left tackle. At a minimum, I think Williams challenges for the starting job on the right side. His attitude and toughness is what Texas has been lacking on the OL.

No. 16. Dylan Haines, S, junior

Everyone thinks it's just a matter of time before Haines gets replaced by someone like DeShon Elliott or P.J. Locke. But Elliott and Locke are probably competing with Jason Hall for playing time, because Charlie Strong implicitly trusts Haines, whom he calls "White Lightning," to line everyone up correctly and to be in the right place himself. Haines led Texas in INTs (4) in 2014.

No. 15. Daje Johnson, WR, senior

I'd love to have Johnson higher than this, but it looks like he's still trying to prove to coaches that he can be trusted after turning it over twice in the spring game. If the Daje Johnson - the playmaker who broke a punt return 85 yards for a TD vs Oklahoma in 2013 - shows up this season, then Johnson's ranking on this list skyrockets. But he's lost the benefit of the doubt and has to earn everything he gets. Daje has Jacorey Warrick and Armanti Foreman to compete with in the slot as well as freshman Ryan Newsome in addition to Roderick Bernard, when Bernard gets back from his season-ending knee (ACL) injury. I put Marcus Johnson in the same prove-it category (Marcus didn't even make my top 22 after last season's disappearing act).

No. 14. Kent Perkins, OG, junior

Perkins has a high ceiling, but that ceiling seemed to get lower last season, because when Perkins got tired, his effort dropped way off and hurt the team. He wasn't alone. But his ceiling is too high for that to happen, and it can't happen again in 2015. Perkins' effort and attitude was improved in the spring and needs to keep rising over the summer. Texas needs Perkins to be a cornerstone of the OL this season - not a concern or liability.

No. 13. John Burt, WR, freshman

The comparisons to former Louisville WR DaVante Parker have already been made by Texas QB coach/associate head coach Shawn Watson, and that's good enough for me. Watch out Lorenzo Joe and Dorian Leonard. Burt's film shows he's capable of playing the X (or split end position) as long as he beats out Gilbert Johnson, who is also very capable of stepping in and winning the job, in my opinion. The competition level is about to get intense at the receiver position with the arrival of Burt, Johnson, DeAndre McNeal and Ryan Newsome - long overdue. And Newsome has a chance to be a kick and punt return star from day one.

Here are Nos. 22-19

  Nos. 22-19.


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