Texas Football: Who Will Replace Jackson Jeffcoat in Starting Lineup in 2014?

Taylor Gaspar@Taylor_GasparFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2014

Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf (10) is hit by Texas defensive lineman Jackson Jeffcoat (44) as he flips the ball to running back Desmond Roland (26) during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)
Michael Thomas/Associated Press

Jackson Jeffcoat faced a lot of adversity during his time at Texas. The defensive end missed four games after he suffered an ankle injury in 2010, tore his left pectoral muscle in 2011, then tore his left pectoral in 2012, which caused him to miss seven games.

However, he proved he could stay healthy in his standout senior season.

Jeffcoat led the Longhorns with 86 tackles, 22 tackles for loss and 13 sacks in 2013. He was a consensus All-American and won the Ted Hendricks Award, which is given to the best defensive end in college football.

The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year will be difficult to replace, but fortunately for Texas fans, there is another big-time name at the top of the list who is familiar with having to replace Jeffcoat.

Defensive end Cedric Reed received a lot of attention in 2013, and not only because he was a second piece of the Longhorns' pass-rushing tandem, which constituted one of the most devastating pass-rushing attacks in college football.

With that said, Reed showed signs of brilliance prior to 2013.

Cedric Reed Career Stats
YearG/GSTacklesTFLSacksQBPFFFR
20117/0300000
201213/64682.51301
201313/137919101452
Totals33/191282712.52753
texassports.com

When Jeffcoat was sidelined with a torn left pectoral in 2012, Reed got his opportunity to prove he was a special talent. He racked up 37 tackles as a starter in the final six games of the 2012 season. He then made drastic strides in 2013, finishing the season with 79 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and 10 sacks.

Reed contemplated leaving early for the 2014 NFL draft, but decided to return to Texas for his senior season. 

Nov 9, 2013; Morgantown, WV, USA; Texas Longhorns defensive end Cedric Reed (88) reacts after recovering a fumble in the second quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

"After talking to my friends and family, I think it's in my best interest to come back next year and help my teammates and the coaching staff keep building the program," Reed said in a media release announcing his return.

"I think I can fit into Coach Strong's scheme well, and I'm looking forward to having a great senior year under him, while I can also finish my degree."

Reed will be the sole defensive end on the 2014 roster to have started an entire season for the Longhorns.

Reed's 6'5", 258-pound frame, long arms, big hands and ability to knock down passes at the line of scrimmage have been recognized by draft experts, as NFLDraftScout.com ranks him No. 2 among 221 defensive end prospects for the 2015 NFL draft. 

In addition to Reed's development in 2014, another storyline to watch will be who will step up as the second defensive end to win the starting role opposite of Reed.

All signs point to Shiro Davis to play opposite of Reed in 2014. Davis was expected to be a larger part of the Longhorns' game plan in 2013, but saw limited playing time due to the success of Jeffcoat and Reed. With Jeffcoat gone, though, the time has come for Davis to get his shot opposite of Reed.

Davis is not the largest defensive end on the roster, but he is one of the quickest. The 6'3", 249-pound end saw action in all 13 games in 2013 and NFLDraftScout currently ranks him No. 50 out of 215 draft-eligible defensive ends for the 2016 NFL draft.

Not bad considering he has yet to post his first start of his college career.

Regardless of who defensive end No. 2 will be, Texas fans can feel comfortable knowing that Reed will be leading the charge for the Longhorns' defensive line in 2014.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Follow Taylor on Twitter @Taylor_Gaspar.