Top players to watch in 2016

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Sophomore running back Chris Warren shined as the starter in the season’s final two games. The Longhorns hope he can replicate the performance as a feature back this season.
Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

Sophomore running back Chris Warren

No matter who is playing quarterback for Texas this season, the offense will rely heavily on its run game. Enter Chris Warren, the 6-foot-2, 235-pound power back who burst onto the scene with 382 rushing yards and four touchdowns in last season’s final two games. Warren boasts the power to bruise through tacklers and pick up extra yards after contact. He also has the speed to out-run defenders in the open field — he broke a 91-yard touchdown against Texas Tech last Thanksgiving. Warren will share carries with junior running back D’Onta Foreman to create a powerful one-two punch in Texas’ backfield. But Warren can earn the lion’s share of the workload if he picks up where he left off last season. Expect a big campaign from the sophomore. 

Sophomore linebacker Anthony Wheeler

Wheeler played a limited role in his freshman year with Peter Jinkens and sophomore Malik Jefferson each spending significant time at the middle linebacker spot. But he flashed a knack for making plays after Jinkens tore his ACL in Week 11 against Texas Tech. The 6-foot-2, 228-pound linebacker recorded eight tackles that week and followed the performance up with six tackles and a fumble recovery in the season finale at Baylor. Head coach Charlie Strong said he likes Wheeler’s instincts at inside linebacker. If he lives up to his coach’s praise, Texas will have a solid foundation in the middle. 

Sophomore receiver John Burt

It didn’t take long for Burt to break out as an impact player for Texas. In just his second game as true freshman, Burt pulled in a 69-yard touchdown against Rice, the first of many long receptions on the season. He went on to lead the team in receiving yards and tiedfor the team lead in touchdowns. At 6-foot-3, Burt has the size to go up and grab contested balls in the air. He also boasts game-changing speed as a member of Texas’ track and field team. Burt should take the next step in new offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert’s offense — he scored 65-yard touchdown in Gilbert’s debut at the Orange-White game in April. The fast-paced spread scheme features several screen passes and dump-offs in space. Burt will have plenty of chances to show off his speed as sophomore.