Christian Scott, S
Looks likely to succeed Earl Thomas alongside Blake Gideon as Texas' second safety. Scott sat out the 2009 season--excluding the national title game -- because of unresolved eligibility issues that were resolved at the semester's end. A former ESPNU 150 recruit, Scott played in all 13 games for Texas as a sophomore, notching 15 tackles, including two in a win over Ohio State. He'll have competition from Kenny Vaccaro at safety, but if he holds him off, he could finish the season with great tackle and interception numbers in a loaded Longhorns secondary.
Dustin Earnest, LB
Scott isn't the only one filling a hole left by the NFL draft. Earnest should step into departed linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy's spot as a senior after sitting behind starter Muckelroy for two seasons. Like Scott, the talent around him should help. Fellow linebackers Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho look likely to earn All-Big 12 honors in 2010. When Earnest did get a chance to fill in for Muckelroy, he made 26 stops -- 17 without assistance -- and a sack. He's played in 38 of 40 games over the past three seasons, but he should finally be counted on for consistent playing time this season.
Barrett Matthews, TE
Matthews gave a nice preview of what could come later in the Longhorns' spring game, proving to be an effective safety blanket for fellow sophomore, quarterback Garrett Gilbert. Greg Smith started last season, but coach Mack Brown says if Matthews eliminates his inconsistencies in the passing game, Smith will move to H-back and be more of a blocker and utilized in short passing routes. Matthews, a former ESPNU 150 recruit who ESPN named as the nation's No. 3 tight end, caught three passes for 31 yards and a touchdown in the game. If Blaine Irby can get back to playing form after missing almost all of the past two seasons with a knee injury, and Texas has success establishing the run game, it would also have an impressive two-tight end formation to utilize in play-action and give Gilbert two good options in the middle of the field that defenses would be forced to account for.