Texas football lands five players on preseason All-Big 12 team
IRVING, Texas – Five members of the Texas football program were named Wednesday to the preseason All-Big 12 team, as voted on by the league's media representatives. Punter Michael Dickson, defensive lineman Poona Ford, linebacker Malik Jefferson, defensive lineman Malcolm Roach and offensive lineman Connor Williams all received recognition, tying the Longhorns for the most players named to the team in the conference.
Dickson, who was named to the 2017 watch list for the Ray Guy Award earlier today, is coming off a season in which he was named Big 12 Conference Special Teams Player of the Year. He averaged a school-record 47.4 yards per punt in 2016 and became UT's first finalist for the Ray Guy Award. An All-America honoree, Dickson downed 28 punts inside the 20, had 25 punts of more than 50 yards and registered a career-long punt of 74 yards during the season. The Sydney, Australia native has played in all 24 games to date in his career.
A native of Hilton Head, S.C., Ford earned second-team All-Big 12 honors from ESPN a season ago and also garnered honorable mention from the league's coaches. He started all 12 games at the defensive tackle spot and was fourth on the team with 54 tackles (40 solo). He had 5.5 tackles for loss and four quarterback hurries to go along with a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and two blocked extra points. Ford has played in 33 games with 17 career starts. The senior was also named preseason All-Big 12 Team by Athlon Sports earlier this summer.
A third-year linebacker and native of Mesquite, Texas, Jefferson played in 11 games while making nine starts in 2016. He finished third on the team with 62 tackles (42 solo), while totaling 8.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. He also added three pass breakups, three quarterback pressures and a forced fumble to earn second-team All-Big 12 recognition from the Associated Press. In addition, he was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award. So far this preseason, Jefferson has been named an All-American by Sporting News and also preseason All-Big 12 by Athlon Sports.
Roach, a native of Baton Rouge, La., played in 12 games with five starts a season ago as a true freshman. He garnered honorable mention as the Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2016 after making 33 tackles, eight tackles for loss (tying for the 10th-highest total by a Texas freshman) and three sacks. A menace off the edge last season, Roach recorded sacks against UTEP, California and West Virginia. He is one of three sophomores to earn recognition on the preseason All-Big 12 Team.
Williams, a left tackle from Coppell, Texas, continues to garner preseason recognition following standout freshman and sophomore campaigns. He is one of just four offensive linemen to be recognized on the Maxwell Award preseason watch list, which honors College Football's Player of the Year. He has played in and started 23 of a possible 24 games through two seasons on the 40 Acres. He was a consensus first-team All-America in 2016, becoming just the fourth sophomore in UT history — joining Hub Bechtol in 1944, Russell Erxleben in 1976 and Earl Thomas in 2009 — to receive first-team All-America honors. He was named first-team All-Big 12 by both the league's coaches and the Associated Press in 2016, and was a semifinalist for the prestigious Outland Trophy.
The Big 12 Conference will release the media preseason poll Thursday, which will be followed by the annual Big 12 Football Media Days in Frisco July 17-18.