Anae, who earned the Morris Award as given to the most outstanding defensive lineman as selected by the league’s starting offensive linemen, was a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award, and earned semifinalist honors from the Lombardi and Bednarik awards. A two-time first-team All-Pac-12 selection, his 12.5 sacks this season is tied for seventh in FBS and his 29.5 career sacks is tied for the school record and ranked fourth among active FBS players.
*Junior CB Jaylon Johnson (6-0/190)
Johnson ranks fourth in the Pac-12 with 13 passes defended and is third in the league with 11 total pass breakups. He has two interceptions on the year, including a pick six against Washington. Johnson also earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors twice and has been an academic standout for the Utes.
Senior ROV Francis Bernard (6-0/242)
Finished second on the team in tackles with 83, including 7.5 tackles-for-loss. He had two interceptions that included a pick-six, one pass breakup and a forced fumble. His pick-six against Utah was one of Utah’s five defensive touchdowns this season which is tied for second in the FBS and ranks first in the Pac-12. Bernard was twice named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week.
Senior LT Darrin Paulo (6-5/318)
Helping lead the way for star running back, Zach Moss, Paulo started all 13 games this season. He has played in 52 career games, which ranks second on the team and has played in 40 games on the offensive line with 39 career starts. Paulo has helped the Utes to a number one ranking in the Pac-12 in rushing offense (207.0) and a No. 3 ranking in scoring per game (34.0).
Senior QB Tyler Huntey (6-1/210)
Huntley ranks second in the FBS and first in the Pac-12 in completion percentage this season (.755) and is also fifth in the FBS and first in the league in passing efficiency (188.6). He also ranks in the top-10 in FBS football in passing yards per completion (14.75) and yards per pass attempt (11.14).
This season, Huntley is 188-of-249 passing for 2,773 yards and 16 touchdowns, adding 74 carries for 255 rushing yards and five rushing scores. It is the second time in his career that he has passed for over 2,000 yards in a season and it is the most passing yards by a Ute in a single season since 2008.
Senior DT John Penisini (6-2/318)
Playing along side heralded tackle Leki Fotu, Penisini recorded 37 tackles, six tackles-for-loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles and one pass break-up. (6.0 TFL, 2.0 Sacks) His 37 total tackles ranks second on the Utes defensive line. Penisini earned Pac-12 Defensive Lineman of the Week for his career-high tying seven tackles with a sack and a forced fumble against Washington.
Coach: Tom Herman
Texas Players to watch:
Senior WR Devin Duvernay (5-11/210)
Duvernay, a native of Sachse, Texas, has caught 103 passes for 1,294 yards and scored nine total touchdowns (8 rec/1 rush) this season. Duvernay’s 103 catches and 8.6 receptions per game lead all FBS receivers, and his 1,294 receiving yards place him fourth nationally. He leads all Big 12 receivers in catches, catches per game, receiving yards, receiving yards per game and ranks third in receiving touchdowns. He and Jordan Shipley (2009) are the only Texas receivers to log at least 100 catches and more than 1,200 receiving yards in a season. Shipley was a consensus first-team All-American in 2009 when he hit those marks.
Senior FS Brandon Jones (6-0/210)
Jones, a native of Nacogdoches, Texas, leads the Longhorns with 86 total tackles this season (7.2 pg). He has also notched 4.5 tackles for loss, four pass breakups, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
The senior captain was credited with a career-high 12 tackles (11 solo) in his final game at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium last week. It was his third game this season with double-digit tackles. Jones’ individual accolades including being named a semifinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy and the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award this season. He was also a preseason watch list candidate for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy.
Senior DE Malcolm Roach (6-3/290)
“I’m very excited to get the opportunity to play Utah,” Roach recently said. “They’re a great team that’s had a great run this year. It’s going to be a challenge, and we’re very excited for the opportunity to play one of the best teams in the country. Then to play in the state of Texas is something that’s always great. We have a great fan base in San Antonio, and it’s just an hour down the road from our fans in Austin. We’re just going to enjoy the bowl experience and the Alamo Bowl.”
Roach’s raw physical tools and athleticism will garner looks from NFL scouts as will his ability to play inside or out. However, most of the last two seasons for Roach were marred by various injuries and suspensions. He did miss some time this season due to lingering injury issues and a targeting call. Still, he should be drafted sometime on day three.
Senior OG Parker Braun (6-3/280)
Braun, a graduate transfer offensive lineman, came to Texas after starting the last 32 of his 36 games over three seasons at Georgia Tech. He was a two-time first-team All-ACC selection and freshman All-American for the Yellow Jackets. Braun led an offensive line that ranked in the top 10 nationally in rushing all three years, including leading the nation in 2018 (325.0 ypg). He helped Georgia Tech set back-to-back school records for 400-yard rushing games in a single season with four in 2017 and five in 2018.
Since transfering to Texas, Braun hasn’t slowed down. At left guard, he’s helped pave the way for Keaontay Ingram and Roschon Johnson to average over five yards per carry and a combined 1,345 yards. Recently, Braun was named team second All-Big 12 selection the Associated Press.
**Sophomore LB Joseph Ossai (6-4/245)
Ossai, a second-year linebacker, has played in 22 career games with 10 career starts. Born in Nigeria, Ossai continues learning the game week by week. “There were a lot of things he had to learn when he first came on campus, but the way he goes about doing things, he’s getting better each day,” teammate Malcolm Roach said. “Watching film with him, he asks questions and I talk about how I see the game and discuss tips he could use for formations. He’s one of the hardest workers on the team and he’s getting better and better every game.”
Ossai finished second on the team in total tackles with 81, just five behind Brandon Jackson. He also had 7.5 tackles-for-loss, two sacks, and two interceptions.
On the whole, the transfer portal has been a win for college football fans, as players like Jacob Eason, Joe Burrow, and Shane Buechele get new life. Buechele transferred to Southern Methodist University after graduating from Texas in the spring of 2019, replacing Ben Hicks who transferred to the University of Arkansas. Buechele has put up 2,325 yards with an Td/Int ratio of 20-7. He’s lead the Mustangs to an 8-0 record and a #15 ranking. Plus, if he decides to stay in Dallas, he’s got another year of eligibility ahead of him.
Senior OLB/Star Patrick Nelson (6-1/205)
SMU linebacker Patrick Nelson is second in the nation in sacks with 10 this season, bolstered by his seven tackle, 2.5 sack and 3.5 tackle for loss performance against Houston on Thursday. Head coach Sonny Dykes recently said of Nelson, “He plays really hard, he’s a really tough guy, no-nonsense football player. He’s brought a toughness to our defense that I think has been important to us.” Nelson also has 11.5 tackles-for-loss this season. Nelson played his first two season at Illinois.
Senior RB Xavier Jones (5-11/215)
Jones rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2017. In 2018, he was slowed by a knee injury, and his contribution dramatically fell as a result — getting only one start; totally 69 carries for 311 yards and two touchdowns. Last week vs Houston, Jones had a 62-yard touchdown – the longest touchdown run of his career. It was his 15th touchdown of the season. Dykes is thrilled to have a health “X” back on the field. He needs just 116 yards this week to break the 1,000 yard mark for the second time in his SMU career.
*Junior WR Reggie Roberson (6-0/192)
Roberson is an explosive playmaker, averaging 18.7 yards per catch on 43 receptions this year. Roberson, the 2018 WV transfer, has shown a knack to go up and win the contested jump ball. He has 803 receiving yards and six touchdowns.
Gainwell has excellent burst and open field quickness. So far this year, he has 979 yards on the ground; 440 in receptions; and 14 combined touchdowns. His style and skill set are similar to, say, a Bryce Love. One one play, he lines up in the backfield; on the next snap, he’s lined up in the slot. In week 9 vs Tulane, Gainwell had just over 200 yards receiving and 100+ yards on the ground — making NCAA history as the first player to go over 200 receiving yards and 100 rushing yards in the same game since 1997.
Senior DE Bryce Huff (6-3/255)
Huff has 9.5 sacks in 2019, along with an impressive 19.0 tackles-for-loss. “Every rep that I take whether its inside drill or team, I just focus on my get-off,” Huff said. Huff usually enters games on third down when defensive coordinator Chris Ball brings in his pass-rushing unit. Huff has really improved his power to speeds moves and fitting his gaps.
Senior TE Joey Magnifico (6-4/240)
Magnifico is a fan favorite – certainly, the name is part of it. But Joey has game too. He has enough speed to stretch the seam and has enough strength to hold his own as at the point of attack. He has good hands as a receiver, and does a nice job of catching the ball away from his body, turning, and powering up the field. Doubtful he gets drafted in the first three rounds, because of his size, but he’ll definitely get draft.
Senior SLB Austin Hall (6-2/215)
Hall has 38 starts at the hybrid STAR defensive position. In his career, he has 29.5 tackles-for-loss and 23 passed defended – indicative of the fact that Hall is all consistently all over the field. He is projected to play SS at the next level.
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium –AstroTurf Nov. 2 | Memphis, TN