Texas depth chart preview: Defense

August, 21, 2013
8/21/13
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We’re 10 days away from the season opener and Texas hasn’t released its official 2013 depth chart. That should be coming soon, but why wait?

Yesterday, we projected how the Longhorns offensive depth chart will look entering the Aug. 31 opener against New Mexico State. Today we’re assessing how Texas’ defensive depth is shaping up. Here’s where the Longhorns appear to stand with only a few days left in fall camp.

Defensive end

Jackson Jeffcoat, Cedric Reed, Reggie Wilson, Shiro Davis, Bryce Cottrell

Everything we’ve heard this summer and fall suggests Jeffcoat is healthy and back with a vengeance. Nobody will be surprised if he has a big season. Reed has been locked into the other starting job throughout, and Wilson is earning confidence as the No. 3 guy. Davis and Cottrell lead a group of young ends who could make a splash as pass rushers and seem far more poised to contribute as second-year guys. Of all the guys on this defense, Cottrell might be the one who ends up being a surprise stud.

Defensive tackle

[+] EnlargeJackson Jeffcoat
John Albright/Icon SMIWith players like Jackson Jeffcoat returning to full health, Texas' defensive depth looks stronger in 2013.
Ashton Dorsey, Chris Whaley, Malcom Brown, Desmond Jackson, Hassan Ridgeway

The two we’ve bolded here is essentially meaningless. It could be Brown and Whaley, Brown and Dorsey, Dorsey and Jackson or any number of other combinations. Bo Davis has the luxury of rotating those four and will do so plenty. Whaley had stepped up in camp, but it’s hard to call him a surprise starter considering he also won a starting gig at the end of camp last year. Is Ridgeway the No. 5 man in this group? Time will tell, but he has the tools to eventually be a difference-maker.

Outside linebacker

Jordan Hicks, Peter Jinkens, Tevin Jackson, Kendall Thompson

No surprises here. You knew Hicks was going to be a surefire starter when he got healthy, and Jinkens has made a big impression on everyone this offseason. He’s often praised for bringing a strong dose of energy to the rest of the lineup. Texas likes what it has in Jackson and Thompson, and they’re still in line to see solid playing time. Right now, it's hard to picture former starter Demarco Cobbs reemerging as an impact contributor once he's healthy.

Middle linebacker

Steve Edmond, Dalton Santos

This was supposed to be one of the Longhorns’ best position battles, but the drama fizzled quickly. Edmond is in firm control of the job and has made a big comeback after an up-and-down 2012. Players say he’s truly a sideline-to-sideline player now that he’s dropped 30 pounds and more of a playmaker than ever. After all the premature hype surrounding him last year, it sounds like Edmond is the real deal now. Santos will still get his, especially as a special teams enforcer.

Cornerback

Quandre Diggs, Carrington Byndom, Duke Thomas, Sheroid Evans, Bryson Echols

Longhorns coaches and players have remained as vague as possible when it comes to discussing Diggs’ role. Don’t be shocked if he plays more nickel and dabbles in some safety this year, but the fact remains he’s still one of Texas’ two best corners. Byndom seems much more confident as a senior. Manny Diaz recently said Thomas is as good a DB as Texas has right now, which is really saying something, and Evans has a chance to be a sneaky good weapon in that secondary. Don’t sleep on freshman Antwuan Davis, but Texas is in nice shape in terms of depth at corner.

Safety

Adrian Phillips, Mykkele Thompson, Josh Turner, Adrian Colbert

We know Phillips is better and could be one of the real surprise players on this Texas defense as a senior, but it’s still hard to peg if Thompson is the answer at the other starting spot. The coaching staff is still confident in him. Turner has been sidelined throughout camp so it’s hard to know what to expect of him, but Colbert has been flashy in practices. Again, if Diggs or Byndom chips in at safety, that sure couldn’t hurt.

Punter

William Russ, Anthony Fera

Tough call here, but we’ll go with Russ because it seems more feasible that the Longhorns would prefer to keep Fera fresh and not give him both placekicker and punter duties. Coaches say a healthy Russ is now booming his punts and made this a legitimate battle. And let’s not forget Nick Rose, who will continue to own the role of booting kickoffs. Mack Brown frequently praised Rose as a freshman, and he might be even better in year two.

Max Olson | email

Big 12 reporter

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