Peter Jinkens

New Mexico State wide receiver Joshua Bowen hauls in a touchdown pass from quarterback Andrew McDonald over Texas safety Mykkele Thompson, who played an otherwise good game but gave up the Aggies' only score of the game. 

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Stock up:

Cedric Reed

There was a bit of concern amongst the Longhorns faithful as to how a depleted defense in 2012 would be able to replace the pass rushing ability of Alex Okafor heading into 2013. Saturday night against New Mexico State, Cedric Reed started to erase some of those fears. Reed was credited with six solo tackles, including a sack, and six assisted tackles. He controlled the line of scrimmage and was a force all night against the Aggies offensive line. If that Cedric Reed shows up every Saturday this fall, the Texas pass rush will be just fine.

 

Jalen Overstreet

If the Longhorns had an embarrassment of riches at the running back position heading into the season, what they have the week after New Mexico State is simply laughable. Redshirt freshman Jalen Overstreet, a converted quarterback and probably the fourth-string running back, reeled off 92 rushing yards on nine carries and tacked on two touchdowns in his first collegiate game. Co-offensive coordinators Major Applewhite and Darrell Wyatt now must figure out how to keep getting the football to its game changers, a list of players which now likely includes Overstreet.

 

Stock down:

Peter Jinkens

It was a quiet game for the sophomore linebacker as he registered only three solo tackles and two assisted tackles. The defense bent a little on Saturdaybut didn’t break, playing a mostly sound game. Jinkens’ night wasn’t miserable and there are still 11 games for him to make more of an impact, but for someone who is expected to bring a little crazy to the defensive side of the ball, Saturday left a little to be desired.

 

Mykelle Thompson

It is tough to find someone whose stock should be down after a 56-7 romp, and this is probably a reach. Thompson played a pretty solid football game on Saturday, but was responsible for the only touchdown given up against the Aggies. His coverage was tight on the pass play that resulted in the first points of the game, but he still allowed the only touchdown the Aggies would record. In a game where your offense breaks school records and your defense only allows a single touchdown, it doesn’t take a whole lot to spot a single shortcoming. Thompson was much more physical and tackled much better Saturday than he did in 2012, so even with the allowed touchdown pass, Thompson is still in great shape as the free safety for 2013.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

It is no secret the Texas linebacker corps struggled last season.

The position was marred by injuries and inconsistency, and it was largely at fault for a Texas defense that surrendered 29.2 points per game.  The Longhorns believe that those struggles could be behind them, though, and they are optimistic about their stable of linebackers heading in to 2013.

Head coach Mack Brown pegged Steve Edmond, Jordan Hicks and Peter Jinkens as starters for Saturday’s season opener against New Mexico State. The trio is eager to improve on the play of last year’s unit, which played a major role in Texas allowing 192.2 yards rushing per game.

Edmond received the most playing time of the three last season, putting up solid numbers but was inconsitent and a poor tackler at times. He was second on the team with 103 tackles, including four double-digit tackle performances, and recorded a pair of forced fumbles and an interception returned for a touchdown.

Edmond dedicated the offseason to shedding weight in order to increase his quickness and has been impressive in practices thus far. The senior figures to play a big role as the middle linebacker in Texas’ base 4-3 defense, and Longhorns head coach Mack Brown expects Edmond to be much improved over last season.

“Steve started gaining respect in the offseason by losing a lot of weight and he’s had a very good camp,” Brown said. “It will be fun to watch him on Saturday night because I think he’ll be so much better than what people saw last year. They’ll be very surprised and pleased.”

Hicks also returns to the starting lineup after missing all but three games last season with a hip injury suffered in Week 3 against Ole Miss. The redshirt junior made 11 starts the last three seasons and gives Texas another athletic player to line up at weakside linebacker.

Saturday’s matchup against New Mexico State will be Hicks’ first game since being suspended for the 2012 Valero Alamo Bowl. He and quarterback Case McCoy were linked to a sexual assault accusation in which no charges were filed. Hicks was reinstated in January, and Brown says that Hicks has earned back the respect of his teammates after a quiet and productive offseason.

“Jordan had to earn [his teammates’ respect] back and he was able to do that by working every day and keeping his mouth shut and being a really good player,” Brown said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that [he has] earned that respect back.”

Despite the drama that surrounded him in December, Hicks expects to resume his role as one of the leaders of the Texas defense. As one of the veterans of the linebacker corps, Hicks said it’s not his style to put down teammates after making a mistake, and he envisions himself as a teacher for the younger players to learn from.

“I’m more of a teacher because I lead by the way that I respond,” Hicks said. “I respond better with teaching, just personal one-on one type deal. No humiliation stuff. I like to make sure they know what they did wrong, that’s more my style.”

Sophomore Peter Jinkens rounds out the Longhorns starting unit at linebacker. He played in all 13 games of last season, starting three, and recorded 29 tackles, with three being for a loss.

Jinkens finished last season on a high note, registering 13 tackles, a sack and an interception in his final two games of the season. The sophomore boasts 4.5 40-yard dash speed that should allow him to hang with most running backs, and he enters the season with significant expectations as the Longhorns starter on the strong side.

While much of the offseason focus revolved around the Longhorns’ adjustment to a revamped up-tempo offense, Texas needs superior play from its defense for a realistic shake at the Big 12 title. The first step will be improving at the linebacker position, and the Week 1 starters seem ready for the challenge

With 19 starters returning, Texas will be one of college football’s most seasoned teams in 2013. Preseason rankings place the Longhorns at 15th in the nation. But can this football team really meet expectations? 

To do so, Texas will rely on increased production from a number of players in 2013. Below are four Longhorns primed for breakout seasons.

 

Jackson Jeffcoat

Texas expects the senior defensive end to emerge as the leader of its defense. Jeffcoat has recorded 14.5 sacks in his 27 games with the Longhorns. In his 2011 sophomore season, he registered a career-high eight sacks and 21 tackles-for-loss. An injury in 2012 cut Jeffcoat’s season short, but he should surpass those numbers this year as the anchor of the Texas defensive line. With former defensive end Alex Okafor moving on to the NFL, expect the senior to rise to the occasion and become one of the most disruptive pass rushers in the Big 12. 

 

David Ash

David Ash is an inconsistent player at best, but this could be the year that the quarterback puts it all together and leads the Longhorn offense. As a junior, Ash is the most experienced quarterback in the conference, leading all returning Big 12 quarterbacks with 2,699 passing yards and 19 touchdown passes last season. Another year with receivers Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley should allow him to improve on those numbers. After a huge comeback performance in last year’s Valero Alamo Bowl, we can expect Ash to return with more confidence as he enters his third year.

 

Peter Jinkens

Peter Jinkens made three starts and played in all 13 games during his 2012 freshman season. The linebacker recorded 18 tackles, including three for a loss, a sack and an interception. Jinkens should see a spike in playing time this season and could end up being the Longhorns’ best linebacker. His two best performances last year came in the team’s final two games, where he recorded a combined 15 tackles, a sack and an interception. Jinkens will get a chance to build on those performances early in 2013.

 

Daje Johnson

In his 2012 freshman season, Johnson finished fourth on the team in both rushing and receiving yards. He hauled in 19 passes for 287 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 27 yards and a score, and was the most explosive player on the roster, averaging 15.1 yards per touch. Johnson could become an even bigger part of the Texas offense this year. With a trio of solid running backs ahead of him on the depth chart, Johnson could struggle to get as many carries but should still have an increased role in the backfield. On a team full of playmakers, Johnson has the chance to be the most electric of them all, and the sophomore could fill a major role as a jack-of-all-trades type in 2013. 

Four Longhorns primed for breakout seasons

Junior Jackson Jeffcoat, one of the best defensive ends in the country, scored his first touchdown in his college career against West Virginia
Junior Jackson Jeffcoat, one of the best defensive ends in the country, scored his first touchdown in his college career against West Virginia

With 19 starters returning, Texas will be one of college football’s most seasoned teams in 2013. Preseason rankings place the Longhorns at No. 15 in the nation. But can this football team really meet expectations? 

To do so, Texas will rely on increased production from a number of players in 2013. Below are four Longhorns primed for breakout seasons.

Jackson Jeffcoat:

Texas expects the senior defensive end to emerge as the leader of its defense. Jeffcoat has recorded 14.5 sacks in his 27 games with the Longhorns. In his 2011 sophomore season, he registered a career-high eight sacks and 21 tackles-for-loss. An injury in 2012 cut Jeffcoat’s season short, but he should surpass those numbers this year as the anchor of the Texas defensive line. With former defensive end Alex Okafor moving on to the NFL, expect the senior to rise to the occasion and become one of the most disruptive pass rushers in the Big 12. 

David Ash: 

David Ash is an inconsistent player at best, but this could be the year that the quarterback puts it all together and leads the Longhorn offense. As a junior, Ash is the most experienced quarterback in the conference, leading all returning Big 12 quarterbacks with 2,699 passing yards and 19 touchdown passes last season. Another year with receivers Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley should allow him to improve on those numbers. After a huge comeback performance in last year’s Valero Alamo Bowl, we can expect Ash to return with more confidence as he enters his third year.

Peter Jinkens:

Peter Jinkens made three starts and played in all 13 games during his 2012 freshman season. The linebacker recorded 18 tackles, including three for a loss, a sack and an interception. Jinkens should see a spike in playing time this season and could end up being the Longhorns’ best linebacker. His two best performances last year came in the team’s final two games, where he recorded a combined 15 tackles, a sack and an interception. Jinkens will get a chance to build on those performances early in 2013.

Daje Johnson:

In his 2012 freshman season, Johnson finished fourth on the team in both rushing and receiving yards. He hauled in 19 passes for 287 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 27 yards and a score, and was the most explosive player on the roster, averaging 15.1 yards per touch. Johnson could become an even bigger part of the Texas offense this year. With a trio of solid running backs ahead of him on the depth chart, Johnson could struggle to get as many carries but should still have an increased role in the backfield. On a team full of playmakers, Johnson has the chance to be the most electric of them all, and the sophomore could fill a major role as a jack-of-all-trades type in 2013. 

Freshman linebacker Peter Jinkens made his first collegiate start against Iowa State and made six tackles in the Longhorns' 33-17 win over the Cyclones.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

For a guy who was in high school this time last year, Peter Jinkens spent a lot of time in the Kansas State backfield over the weekend.

And he should be spending plenty of time as a starting linebacker as part of a unit that could lead a resurgent Longhorns defense in 2013.

He starred at Dallas Skyline, where junior wide receiver Mike Davis also went to high school, before signing with Texas this February. Now, with Jordan Hicks missing the last nine regular season games with a hip injury, Jinkens is seeing significant playing time and making the most of it.

“He is a very emotional player,” head coach Mack Brown said of Jinkens on Signing Day this year. “He is really fast. He could even play some nickel, outside backer. Great blitzer. Loves to play the game. Very bright young man. Really good in space.”

A day after tweeting “guess who’s starting tomorrow ... ”, Jinkens made six tackles in his first career start during the Longhorns’ 33-7 win over Iowa State. He made four more stops in a 20-13 loss to TCU before making his presence early in Texas’ regular season finale in Manhattan against Kansas State.

On the Wildcats’ first possession, they had a five-yard run by tailback John Hubert and a four-yard run between the tackles by quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein. That set up a 3rd-and-1. Klein handed off to 6-foot-4, 256-pound fullback Braden Wilson. Jenkins met him behind the line of scrimmage, forcing Kansas State to go three-and-out on its opening drive.

Jinkens made five tackles, one of them a sack of Klein, in the 42-24 defeat. At 8-4, Texas has a lot of work to do before trying to bounce back next year. And Jinkens has proven that he can be a piece of a championship puzzle.

Sophomore Tevin Jackson, like Jenkins, began this season as a backup linebacker before cracking the starting lineup. Juniors Demarco Cobbs and Hicks, along with sophomore Steve Edmond, started at linebacker in Texas’ season opener this year. Because of injury, only Edmond starts now.

Jackson has made 23 tackles this year, seven, including a sack, in his last two games.

“Tevin can make a play,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “That’s kind of what’s shown up over the last couple weeks. He’s been able to make some big plays, sacks, tackles for losses. We’re at a point [where] we’re experiencing injuries throughout the year [and] don’t have a lot of linebackers. We have to have a role for everybody.”

Hicks hasn’t played since September and won’t play again until next August. Depending on whether he’s granted a medical redshirt, he could still have two years of eligibility left. Regardless, he’ll be leading a vastly improved group of linebackers next year and be one of the most experienced members of a defense that will be trying to redeem itself from, statistically, one of its worst years in program history.

The future is bright for Texas linebackers.

Printed on Friday, December 7, 2012 as: Bright future ahead for linebackers

Peter Jenkins, 19, will suit up for Texas in 2012 . The linebacker from Dallas Skyline is the No. 5 player at his position in the state. (Photo courtesy of orangebloods.com)

Every year, college football coaches pursue the nation’s top players and try to convince them to play for their team. For some players, the choice on where to play is simple, and they don’t need any further convincing. Others mull over the decision, weighing such variables as potential playing time, proximity to their home and the overall feel of the program recruiting them.

In the end, it is the players’ decision, and in recent years, more and more of the nation’s best are choosing to come to Austin.

“Texas was just the best combination of tradition, comfortability and an academic future,” said 2012 commitment Alex De La Torre. “I love [Head] Coach [Mack] Brown, [defensive coordinator] Coach [Manny] Diaz and the staff and how the Texas players are one big unit, a family if you will. I just knew then, when I had the Texas experience, that I wanted to be a Longhorn.”

De La Torre is just one of 18 commitments the Longhorns have inked for the 2012 season. The inside linebacker from Ryan High School in Denton also received offers to play at Auburn and Notre Dame but chose to become a Longhorn instead. He still has a full season of high school football left to play, but he’s keeping a close eye on the Texas team.

“I have very high hopes for the team this year,” De La Torre said. “I’m a firm believer in all the coaches that have come in, and I think this year will be a great one.”

Dallas Skyline linebacker Peter Jinkens, another Texas commit, also has lofty expectations for the Longhorns this season.

“I think we have a really good team and could do something great,” he said.

Jinkens is ranked as the No. 5 outside linebacker in the state and was selected as an ESPN and Under Armour All-American for the class of 2012. He has also taken a liking to Diaz, even offering a new nickname for the former Mississippi State coordinator.

“I think Coach Manny Fresh is going to do a great job,” Jinkens said. “He’s very passionate.”

Jinkens’ decision to come to Texas was an easy one. He played with current Longhorn receiver Mike Davis while at Skyline and says Davis is “like a big brother” to him. In addition to having a good friend on the team, Jinkens admitted Brown had a significant influence on his decision.

“You just can’t tell Coach Mack no,” he said.

Jinkens and De La Torre still have a year before they are officially part of the team, but until then, they will continue to support Texas the best they can — and maybe even convince a few more players to become Longhorns. 

Printed on September 1, 2011 as: Texas Adds Pair

Football Notebook

Although the current class of recruits is locked up, the hunt for next year’s prospects has already begun. Here’s an early peak at whom the Longhorns have targeted for the class of 2012:

Cayleb Jones – WR, 6’2”, 195 lbs. (Austin HS - Austin, TX)

The homegrown Austinite has amassed nearly 2,000 yards on 154 receptions as a high school player. He also has 17 touchdowns in his career. Jones can catch just about anything thrown in his direction and has a knack for getting open. Throw in his polished route running skills and he could make an immediate impact when he arrives in the fall of 2012.

Malcom Brown – DT, 6’2”, 280 lbs. (Brenham HS - Brenham, TX)

Not to be confused with the recent running back commit from San Antonio, Brown is one of the best all-around defensive linemen in the 2012 recruiting class. He possesses great athleticism for his size, making him a good option for any position along the defensive line. He pursues the ball extremely well and bursts out of his stance like a track sprinter. His ability to shed blocks using his hands and maintain a low pad level make him a superb run-stopper.

Peter Jinkens – OLB, 6’1”, 210 lbs. (Skyline HS - Dallas, TX)

Logging a time of 4.45 in the 40-yard dash, according to Rivals.com, the linebacker is apt at covering the entire length of the field. Jinkens also rotates in at running back for Skyline High School, adding more than 10 yards per carry to his resume. Already one of the fastest linebackers in the state, he has significant upside once he bulks up. One more year in the weight room could do the trick.

Bryson Echols – CB, 5’9”, 165 lbs. (Desoto HS - Desoto, TX)

While not the most physically imposing player, Echols possesses intangible skills and plays smart football. He’s not afraid to fight for the ball against a much taller receiver and sticks to his man like glue. Don’t let his modest numbers fool you.

Johnathan Gray – RB, 5’10”, 190 lbs. (Aledo HS - Aledo, TX) * undecided

Son of a former Texas Tech star back, James Gray, the young phenom is a runner known around the lone star state for his vision, agility and speed. His versatility makes him a good receiver option as well. Aledo High School has already won two consecutive state championships on the back of Gray, and will look for a third next season. Gray has reportedly narrowed down his interest to Texas, TCU and Texas A&M. His attributes would complement 2011 commit Malcolm Brown nicely in the Longhorn backfield.