No. 12 Texas prepares for home opener against UTSA

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Sophomore Ariel Atkins is one of 11 Texas players coming back this year. The Longhorns spent five weeks ranked No. 3 last season, and this season they have the No. 4 recruiting class.

Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

No. 12 Texas takes on UTSA on Saturday in its home opener. After an offseason filled with scrimmages, the Longhorns are more ready than ever to play a game.

“I don’t know exactly what we’re going to look like Saturday, but we need to play,” head coach Karen Aston said.

With 11 returning players, including four seniors, the Longhorns look to build on last year’s up and down season. The Longhorns spent five weeks ranked No. 3 in the nation before a series of injuries. Sophomore Ariel Atkins suffered an injury in December causing her to miss eight games. A month later, then-senior Nneka Enemkpali tore her ACL on Jan. 15.

While the injuries were a low point of last season, Atkins said her injury was a teaching point.

“Coming in as a freshman, you always want to go fast,” the Duncanville native said. “But my injury really slowed me down and made me focus on things I probably wouldn’t have realized had I not been hurt.”

With the addition of the No. 4 freshman class according to ESPN, the ladies hope to have enough to withstand whatever adversity may come their way. But despite what Aston considers the perfect blend between old and new talent, Aston understands that it will take time for all the pieces to mesh, with players returning each day from offseason rehabilitation.

“We have the potential to give teams a lot of different looks, but it may not be right away,” Aton said.

However, with a No. 2 pre-season Big 12 ranking, and the Big 12 pre-season Freshman of the Year, Lashann Higgs, on their roster, Aston knows the bar has been raised.

“The players want the pressure,” Aston said. “They want the expectations and they understand them.”