I’ll update this weekly and rankings will be a running tally on how players perform throughout the season, not just for the previous game.
Without further ado I present to you my HD Player Power Rankings:
1. Jerrod Heard, redshirt freshman quarterback
Ranking last week: No. 3
Anytime you set a single-game school record for total offense, especially when Vince Young set it during Texas’ national title run in 2005, you are going to be No. 1 on this list. Especially after the performance he put together against Rice. Heard was magnificent against Cal, rushing for 163 yards and three touchdowns and threw for 364 yards. In two starts Heard has brought a renewed energy into the program and the fan base. Let’s see what he can do against the Big 12.
2. Daje Johnson, senior wide receiver
Ranking last week. No. 2
Johnson has been nothing short of awesome for the Longhorns this season. As Jay Norvell said on Tuesday, this is probably the first time Johnson has made football his first priority and it is paying off big time. The senior had five receptions for 145 yards, including a 54-yard reception, against Cal. He’s a big enough threat as a return man that the Bears refused to punt to him. Johnson leads the team with 11 receptions for 190 yards.
3. Malik Jefferson, freshman linebacker
Ranking last week: No. 1
If you’re wondering if The Predator did anything wrong to get knocked off the top spot, he didn’t. This is definitely more of a case of the two players in front of him just doing a bit more to earn those slots. Jefferson was still his usually all-around productive self. He tied Kevin Vaccaro in tackles with 9, right on his average for the season. He leads the team with 27 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and four quarterback hurries.
4. Connor Williams, freshman offensive tackle
Ranking last week: Not ranked
The biggest mover on this list is Williams, who has been dominant for the most part at left tackle. If you watch him closely you’ll see him finishing off blocks well behind the pocket or even all the way to the sideline. Dan Neil loves him. He’s got a bunch of people in the know thinking he is going to be a special, special player by the time he leaves UT. Make it a point to watch him on Saturday. You’ll come away impressed, I guarantee it.
5. John Burt, freshman wide receiver
Ranking last week: No. 4
The adjustment he made on an underthrown pass from Heard, which he hauled in for a 43-yard reception, exhibits everything you need to know about this freshman. What’s that exactly? Well he’s anything but a freshman. He’s playing like an upperclassman and is Texas’ best pure wide receiver right now. You just wonder when Texas is going to say ‘The hell with it’ and get him the ball a lot more than he has been getting it. He’s good for at least one big play per game, but I’d like to see him more involved on a consistent basis. The big catch aside, Burt finished with just three catches for 22 yards. He only has six catches on the season. He needs the ball a lot more.
6. Johnathan Gray, senior running back
Ranking last week: No. 11
Everyone associated with the program wants to see Gray more involved with the offense. Norvell did a nice job of getting him involved early by getting him the ball on Texas’ first two plays against Cal. He’s still not producing like many thought he would, but he did have his best game against Cal. The reason I’m putting him ahead of D’Onta Foreman, who is coming on strong, is because of Gray’s contributions in the passing game. He has five receptions for 79 yards so far. He’s going to be relied upon heavily in the passing game when the pocket breaks down and Heard is forced to either scramble or dump the ball off to a running back. Is he putting up the numbers we thought he would? No, not even close. But he’s been better the past two games. Let’s see if that continues.
7. D'Onta Foreman, sophomore running back
Ranking last week: No. 7
His 27-yard touchdown up the middle late in Texas’ comeback attempt was as impressive a run as any Texas back has had all season. Foreman is quickly becoming a fan favorite because of his tough nature. He’s rushed eight fewer times than Gray (19) but has just 10 less yards (84). Like I’d mentioned before, the only thing separating he and Gray at this point is Gray’s contributions in the passing game. Foreman has not caught a pass yet.
8. Kent Perkins, junior offensive tackle
Ranking last week: Not ranked
Based on what I’ve seen and also the offensive line grades I’m told Joe Wickline has given his linemen, Perkins deserves to be on this list. Williams has far and away been Texas’ best offensive lineman, but Perkins, who is playing out of position – he should be a guard if UT had another capable tackle – has been solid.
9. Armanti Foreman, sophomore wide receiver
Ranking last week: No. 5
Like Burt, A. Foreman only has six catches. But they’ve largely been of the big-play variety, totaling 113 yards (18.8 yards per reception). I said this last week and I’ll say it again: If he shows pure fight and effort on every play he’ll endear himself to this coaching staff, his teammates, and subsequently move up on this list. Talent is not the issue with him.
10. Poona Ford, sophomore defensive tackle
Ranking last week: No. 8
It’s getting to that part in the list where you struggle to find names this early on in the season on a team that hasn’t necessarily shown you all that much. I’ll go with Ford here, though, because he did make a few really nice individual plays on a night that was otherwise forgettable for UT’s defensive front. He finished with three tackles, including a TFL, one game after finishing second the team with eight tackles and a TFL. Note: If this sounds familiar it’s because it was almost identical to what I wrote for Ford last week. There’s just not much to choose from defensively at this point.
11. Kris Boyd, freshman cornerback
Ranking last week: No. 6
Boyd didn’t record a tackle against Cal but that shouldn’t take away from the impact he’s already made on this program. He’s been really good when he’s been on the field. Expect to see him get more PT as the season goes on.
Players Ranked Last Week That Aren’t Ranked This Week: