AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas is headed to its first bowl game since the 2014 season, yet some of the Longhorns’ top players aren’t sticking around to play in it.
Three of the team’s top underclassmen said this week they will enter the NFL draft or transfer. None will play in the bowl game and the Longhorns are waiting to hear if more will follow.
Junior safety DeShon Elliott on Thursday announced will enter the draft and skip the bowl. The Thorpe Award finalist’s decision came after top junior offensive junior Connor Williams opted to do the same. The player who’s transferring, Chris Warren, led Texas in touchdowns, although his role in the offense dropped as the season wore on.
Their departures raise new questions and new pressures for first-year coach Tom Herman, who needs a bowl win to avoid a losing record and send Texas into 2018 with some momentum. If Texas loses the bowl game, the Longhorns will be 6-7, the same record predecessor Charlie Strong had his first year.
“We are dead set in making it our mission in life to make sure that these seniors go out with a positive experience, with a win in the bowl game, wherever that may be,” Herman said after Texas lost its final game to Texas Tech.
Herman was off campus recruiting this week when the player decisions were announced. More junior departures could be coming.
Texas is waiting to hear from linebacker Malik Jefferson, who had a breakout year under new defensive coordinator Todd Orlando. The Big 12 co-defensive player of the year said on social media this week he hasn’t decided whether he will return or leave for the NFL.
Other juniors who may consider leaving include cornerback Holton Hill and Kris Boyd, and even punter Michael Dickson, an Australian who is a Ray Guy Award finalist. Junior offensive linemen Terrell…