Although the 2023 college football season is still months away, programs are already up and running with spring practices. Teams have the hope of finally taking the next step to make it to the College Football Playoff, as is the case for Texas football.

In 2022, the Longhorns entered the season unranked in the Associated Press poll and No. 18 in the coaches poll. However, they had their moments throughout the year. Most notably, they lost to then-No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide by just one point.

Texas would finish the season 8-5, falling to the Washington Huskies in the Alamo Bowl. The team would end the year at No. 25 in both polls.

With hopes of going further in the 2023 season, the Longhorns will have plenty of work to do this spring. Fortunately for head coach Steve Sarkisian, they had the third-best recruiting class in the nation, according to 247Sports, behind only the Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs. Texas ended up bringing in four five-stars, 14 four-stars and seven three-star recruits.

Thanks to all that incoming talent, Sarkisian could have a tough time making some important personnel decisions. With that being said, here are some position battles to watch during the Texas Longhorns’ 2023 spring practices.

2. Running back

Perhaps the position that undergoing the most change for Texas in 2023 is running back. The Longhorns will be without Bijan Robinson, a surefire first-round draft pick, and Roschon Johnson next season, both of whom are bound for the NFL.

In 2022, Robinson recorded 258 carries for 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns. He finished in the top-10 in multiple rushing categories, also adding 19 catches for 314 yards and two scores, earning All-American and First Team All-Big 12 honors for the second straight years. Robinson also took home the Doak Walker Award, given annually to the top running back in college football.

As for Johnson, he topped 500 rushing yards in all his collegiate years but the 2020 shortened season. In 2022, he finished second on the roster in all rushing categories, only trailing Robinson.

Without the duo, Sarkisian will need to find new playmakers in the backfield. Luckily for him, Texas remains stacked with talent at running back.

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Rusing junior Jonathon Brooks could finally have his breakout season. In 2022, he only appeared in seven games but averaged 6.6 yards per carry. He also scored two touchdowns in the Alamo Bowl.

As for newcomers, Texas added Cedric Baxter Jr. out of Orlando, the No. 1 running back in the 2023 class. Despite playing in just nine games as a senior, he still carried the ball 174 times for 1,375 yards and scored 15 touchdowns. The five-star recruit had four 200-yard performances, including a season-high 272 yards against Don Bosco.

Texas still has senior Keilan Robinson and sophomore Jaydon Blue competing for snaps. It should be interesting to see who will win the battle between Brooks and Baxter, but this should be a good problem for Sarkisian to solve.

1. Quarterback

While the battle for the starting running back position should be one of the best in recent memory, the entire country is keeping an eye on what happens at quarterback in Austin. The Longhorns have two No. 1 recruits from their respective classes competing for the starting job, which should create a big question mark in Sarkisian’s head.

Texas landed the top prospect of the 2023 class in Arch Manning. He chose the Longhorns over other powerhouses such as Alabama, Georgia and Clemson. He scored 100 total touchdowns in his first three years of high school (81 passing and 19 rushing). As a senior, Manning had 37 total touchdowns. Notably, he is the grandson of former NFL quarterback Archie and nephew of Eli and Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning.

Since he enrolled early, Manning is part of spring practices. This is giving him a chance to show the coaching staff why he deserves to be a starter even as a true freshman. However, Manning still has a worthy opponent ahead of him.

Quinn Ewers is entering his second year in the program after transferring from Ohio State. This past season, he started in 10 games with the team going 6-4 in that span. He completed 58.1% of his passes for 2,177 yards and 15 touchdowns against six interceptions. On the ground, he found the end zone once as he finished losing a total of 52 yards due to sacks.

With two top players in their recruiting cycles, Texas boasts perhaps the best quarterback battle in the country ahead of the 2023 college football season. Ewers brings continuity, but it might be difficult to leave a recruit a Manning’s stature and notoriously on the bench.

All things considered, Texas’ quarterback battle should be one for the ages for Texas. Whether Sarkisian chooses Manning or Ewers, the Longhorns should still have an intriguing offense to work with.