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Monday, February 18, 2013
Position breakdown: Defensive end

By Carter Strickland

AUSTIN, Texas -- It was with a furious burst at the end of the year -- nine sacks against Oregon State -- that Texas finished just barely inside the top 20 in sacks.

Now while that last game was impressive, the overall production of the defensive ends mirrored the theme of the entire defense in 2012 -- hit or miss.

Jackson Jeffcoat
Jackson Jeffcoat missed the end of 2012 with a torn pectoral muscle and will likely be limited this spring.
For Texas to be more consistent, it has to get more consistent production out of its defensive ends. And that starts with finding out just who those defense ends will be this spring. Jackson Jeffcoat, who was injured in 2012 and finished 2011 injured, will likely anchor down one side.

Texas already knows what Jeffcoat can do, and given the fact he is coming off pectoral muscle surgery in the fall, doesn’t expect the senior to be heavily involved this spring.

Still, because Jeffcoat has been injury prone, and given that there is another entire side of the line to worry about, Texas will be working out several players in order to get them ready to full the role of defensive end in 2013.

Cedric Reed: When Jeffcoat went down, Reed’s role expanded significantly. He played in all 13 games and finished with 46 tackles and eight tackles for loss. He is the odds-on favorite to take over Alex Okafor’s spot. And while he might not lend Texas the punch that Okafor had, Reed can run, takes decent angles of pursuit and proved he can, at times, dominate weaker tackles. Texas needs him to be quicker off the ball and more of a menace in the backfield.

Reggie Wilson: Like Reed, Wilson’s role greatly expanded when Jeffcoat went down. And, like Reed, he came through very well. He had 31 tackles in 13 games and three tackles for loss. In the past he has not shown that he is as athletic as Reed. But he is a durable player who, regardless of whether or not he is tabbed a starter, should get plenty of time on the field.

Shiro Davis: Davis only played in seven games and was unable to be effective. But what he does bring is speed. Davis needs to prove this spring that his speed can be a major asset off the edge for Texas. It’s unlikely he will unseat either of the aforementioned players as possible starters. But, with a good spring, he could turn himself into a specialty rush end.

Caleb Bluiett: Texas toyed with having Bluiett at the tight end spot for a year but has made the move to put him at defensive end in 2013. He will be way behind the aforementioned players because of his lack of experience and the fact that he is still needs to put on weight and add strength. The spring presents him with a good learning opportunity and some playing time since Jeffcoat is not around.

Bryce Cottrell: He redshirted last season at the defensive end spot. While Cottrell could see some action this spring, the coaches will mainly be concentrating on other players to step up and fill the roles of starters and backups.