Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Contenders: Jordan Hicks, Steve Edmond, Peter Jinkens, Tevin Jackson, Demarco Cobbs, Kendall Thompson, Tim Cole
It should come as no surprise that the linebacker position is under the heaviest of scrutiny, and for good reason.
Texas returns every linebacker to its roster this year, but given the shortcomings at the position last year, the expectations for 2013 are definitely mixed.
Jordan Hicks figures to be an anchor for the defense, and his return from a hip injury will be closely monitored throughout the spring, summer and fall. His veteran presence was sorely missed last season among a litter of underclassmen, and he will be expected to bring confidence, leadership and, most importantly, results. Hicks may be the only linebacker entering the spring with a solidified role going into the season.
Steve Edmond and Dalton Santos will be duking it out for the starting gig at middle linebacker. Edmond received the majority of the work last season, but he hardly scratched the surface of what was expected of him. Santos, meanwhile, made his presence felt mostly on special teams. But a noted 21-pound weight loss could mean the sophomore is getting serious about getting his foot in the door.
At strong-side linebacker, the trio of Peter Jinkens, Tevin Jackson and Demarco Cobbs will be ribbing at one another for the starting nod. Cobbs will be out for the spring, leaving Jinkens and Jackson, both of whom demonstrated some inspired football last year, with the upper hands.
Early Favorite: Hicks, Edmond, Jinkens
Hicks has all but locked down his weak-side position, but the other two spots are very much unsettled.
Edmond appears to have history on his side, maintaining a decisive advantage in experience, but Santos has demonstrated a commitment to improving his mobility, a change that could catch the staff's attention.
Jinkens impressed the most of the three strong-side candidates, but Jackson had his share of brilliance in limited time.