The Longhorns have had a lot of success with their linebackers in recent years, and some of these guys have gone on to play at the professional level. Remember Derrick Johnson and Sergio Kindle (although he was a defensive end and may never play football again), and how well they did at Texas?
The Longhorns have usually gotten solid play from their linebackers, and they have been some of the biggest playmakers on their defense.
Texas had some good playmakers at the position in 2010 and will retain some of them in 2011.
Let’s find out a little bit more about the linebackers that the Longhorns have on the team next season and see which ones will be gone due to graduation.
SLB, Dravannti Johnson
Johnson was a sophomore in 2010 and will be back to help anchor the unit in 2011. He played in 12 games and had 23 total tackles with 16 solo and seven assisted. He also had two tackles for a loss, one sack and six quarterback hits.
He should be much more improved in 2011 and should be one of several players who helps lead the Longhorns defense back into prominence.
MLB, Emmanuel Acho
Unlike his brother Sam, Emmanuel is going to be around for the 2011 season as he was a junior last year. Acho is a very productive player and a leader on defense and has been an asset to the team.
In 2010, Acho collected 49 solo tackles with 38 assisted tackles for a total of 87. He had two forced fumbles, one fumble recovered and one interception which he returned for a touchdown.
Acho will become an important part of the Longhorns defense in 2011, and his skill and leadership will be needed to help get this defense back on track and ready for next season.
OLB, Keenan Robinson
Robinson will be back in the lineup for his senior season and will help bring continuity to the Longhorn’s linebacking corps. In 2010, Robinson played in 12 games and had a total of 113 tackles with 61 solo and 52 assisted. He had eight tackles for a loss, nine sacks, two interceptions and scored a touchdown on defense.
With Robinson and Acho coming back the Longhorns will have a strong group of linebackers and that will end up being the backbone of this defense in 2011.
LB, Dustin Earnest
Earnest was a senior this year, so he won’t be back in 2011. During his time with the Longhorns in 2010, he played in 12 games and recorded a total of two tackles, both solo. He didn’t have any other stats. He was a backup for the most part so his production, which was fairly insignificant, will not be missed.
LB, Jared Norton
Norton is another linebacker who won’t be back again next season (he is a senior). He was a backup on the team last year and collected a total of 16 tackles with four solo and 12 assisted. His ability as a backup will be missed, but the Longhorns have plenty of other players ready to step into his place in 2011.
LB, Jordan Hicks
Hicks will be a sophomore next season and could contend for a bigger and better role in the group in 2011. Hicks played in 12 games last season and recorded a total of 23 tackles with nine solo and 13 assisted. He also had one tackle for a loss, one sack and one quarterback hit.
Look for Hicks to play an important role on defense next season as he not only contends for a starting spot but also helps make their special teams coverage units much improved.
The Longhorns have some additional talent at the linebacker position that they will carry with them into the next season. They include freshman Aaron Benson, freshman Tevin Jackson, freshman Tariq Allen, freshman Patrick Nkwopara, freshman Cody Ramierz and sophomore Ryan Roberson.
The Longhorns have a strong group of linebackers and that group will help propel them into next season and start them on the path to having a strong defense. As previously mentioned, the Longhorns will have a new defensive coordinator and right now it’s tough to tell how he’s going to deploy his linebackers in the new scheme.
He has a good group as a base, and with the right scheme, he could make this one of the better linebacking corps in college football next season.