Texas running back Jonathon Brooks will forego his final two years of eligibility and enter the 2024 NFL Draft247Sports reports. Brooks emerged as the Longhorns' top running back before suffering a season-ending ACL tear. Additionally, star defensive tackle Byron Murphy II, a second-team CBS Sports All-American, told ESPN that he will depart for the draft. 

Brooks was a relatively modest recruit in a room filled with blue-chip prospects and lost the starting running back battle to freshman C.J. Baxter out of camp. By the end of nonconference play, the redshirt sophomore wrested the job away. Brooks went on to lead Texas with 1,139 yards and 10 touchdowns and another 286 yards receiving in just 10 games. He posted eight straight games with at least 98 yards rushing, headlined by a 218-yard, two-touchdown performance against Kansas. Brooks was named a Midseason All-American by CBS Sports. 

The sophomore was hurt during Texas' 29-26 win over TCU and missed the final four games of the season. Texas coach Steve Sarkisian subbed Brooks in for the final kneel down of the Big 12 Championship Game victory against Oklahoma State so he could officially record a snap in the title game, a testament to his respected status on the team. Brooks was in line for All-America consideration for his breakout season. 

Brooks was named Mr. Texas Football by Dave Campbell's Texas Football as the top individual player in Texas high school football. The Hallettsville, Texas, product rushed for 3,530 yards and 62 touchdowns as a senior while leading Hallettsville to its first ever appearance in the state championship game. 

Murphy immediately proved himself as a rotation player at Texas. The Class of 2021 recruit played 20 games over his first two seasons on the Forty Acres, combining for 6.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. As a junior, Murphy took his game to another level, combining with T'Vondre Sweat to form the nation's most dynamic interior line combination in the nation. 

Murphy posted 8.5 tackles for loss and five sacks as an interior lineman. Per Pro Football Focus, Murphy posted the No. 1 pass rushing grade of any interior lineman in college football, posting both the best win percentage and pressure rate. 

NFL Draft stock

Despite his relatively small sample, Brooks quickly emerged as a top running back target in the 2024 NFL Draft. Brooks ranks as the No. 97 overall player, but the No. 3 running back in the CBS Sports NFL Draft Prospect Rankings. Listed at 6 feet and 207 pounds, Brooks boasts the size and vision to be a contributor at the next level. 

Despite the injury, Brooks' relatively low usage should be a major attraction to NFL teams. He rushed the ball just 238 times in his career, but averaged 6.2 yards per carry and scored a touchdown every 14.9 carries. For comparison, former Longhorns superstar Bijan Robinson averaged a touchdown every 16.3 carries. Despite missing four games, Brooks ranked No. 17 among running backs in yards receiving, a skill that continues to get more important for running backs at the next level. 

Murphy's projection remains all over the board heading into the process. The Prospect Rankings list him as the No. 201 player, but experts see him as a late riser. CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson moved Murphy into the first round in a recent mock draft. 

What it means for Texas

While Brooks' loss was a major setback for Texas, the silver lining was that the Longhorns got to look towards the future. Baxter will step into the starting role next year after rushing 138 times for 659 yards and five touchdowns in an impressive first year. Against Washington, he posted 64 yards and a touchdown on just nine carries. Jaydon Blue also added 398 yards in relief. 

Texas also boasts plenty of underclassmen pushing to contribute. Savion Red and Tre Wisner have both shown promise. Texas also signed 4-star Jerrick Gibson, the No. 2 running back in the Top247 rankings in the Class of 2024. 

Replacing the combination of Murphy and Sweat -- the latter of whom is out of eligibility -- proves more difficult. Two of the top three potential replacements for Texas (Alfred Collins, Trill Carter) are seniors. Collins is expected to return to Texas, but Carter remains up in the air. Vernon Broughton should also factor into the rotation. The trio combined for 48 tackles and 8 tackles for loss. 

If Carter decides to move on, next in line would be freshman Jaray Bledsoe, who played just 85 snaps in 2023. Sydir Mitchell, a 6-foot-6, 335-pound freshman, is also a potential breakout candidate.