Before Texas begins its first season under Charlie Strong, we're taking a deep dive into all the talent he inherits in 2014. Our Burnt Orange Breakdown series will take a closer look at each scholarship player returning this fall and what we can expect from him. We're going down the roster from No. 1 Shiro Davis all the way to No. 99 Desmond Jackson.
No. 15 Bryson Echols
Recruitment rewind: Less than two weeks after his DeSoto (Texas) High School teammate Curtis Riser committed to Texas, Echols pulled the trigger on a pledge after a visit in February 2011. A two-time all-state DB and Under Armour All-American, Echols ranked 79th in the final ESPN 150 for his class and sixth among all corners. He snagged nine interceptions in his final three years for the Eagles and developed blazing speed on the track. How fast? He ran the first leg on a DeSoto relay team that was the nation's best.
Career so far: Echols redshirted in 2012 and made his debut last fall, playing on special teams in all 13 games with snaps at corner at the end of three blowout wins. He recorded one tackle in all but two games in 2013 and showed some promise on coverage units, though he did also draw a few penalties in the process.
Best-case scenario for 2014: Safe to say Quandre Diggs and Duke Thomas are locked in for the starting corner spots, so best case for Echols might be proving himself enough to earn opportunities in nickel coverage and chances to play on passing downs. He's fast, competitive and getting stronger after bulking up 10 pounds since joining the program. Take those traits, play smart football, and you'll get a chance to help this defense and maybe even force a few turnovers.
Worst-case scenario for 2014: Echols will have some good competition at corner from senior Sheroid Evans and redshirt freshman Antwuan Davis, and you might even see Jermaine Roberts compete for snaps if he's ready as a true freshman. There's a ton of talent in that group of backup corners, and it would be easy to fall behind Evans and Davis if Echols isn't sharp in fall camp. He's going to be a talented contributor on special teams, but in his third year at UT surely he wants more than that.
Future expectations: DeSoto is indisputably one of the best talent factories in the state of Texas (thanks in large part to excellent coach Claude Mathis), and yet for some reason its three alums on the Texas roster have yet to achieve much. Of those three, Echols seems most likely to make his breakthrough in 2014. He needs it, too, because when Diggs and Evans graduate there's going to be plenty of playing time right there for the taking.