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Thursday, April 4, 2013
Texas spring takeaways: Edmond's future

By Carter Strickland

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas has 19 starters back from last season.

But when Texas gets back to work, all might not be in the same positions. Therein lies the luxury of having so many starters as well as having played 34 freshmen and sophomores over the past two years. It allows for versatility. Some mixing and matching if you will.

Already, Quandre Diggs, while not making the full-fledged move to safety, has moved to the nickel position. Given how often Texas will be in the nickel in Big 12 play, its almost as if Diggs is working at a new spot.

Steve Edmond
Middle linebacker Steve Edmond played some defensive end in Texas' spring game.
Then there is Duke Thomas. He was on the rise as a cornerback until a need arose for more wide receivers. Depth on the defense as well as Thomas’ versatile skill set have allowed Texas to more than toy with the idea of having him play wide receivers. (He had three catches in the spring game.)

The tinkering might now stop there. The next most interesting move could involve Steve Edmond. The junior has been in a battle for the starting middle linebacker spot with Dalton Santos. It appears as if that battle may have been lost, however. The slimmer Santos has emerged as a leader on and off the field and has continued to improve his play.

That doesn’t mean all is lost for Edmond. Texas lined Edmond up at a defensive end spot for one series in the spring game. On the third and final play of that series, Edmond, rushing from the right, forced quarterback David Ash into an ill-advised pitch that was caught by linebacker Jordan Hicks. Still it was hard to tell if he was natural or not. But it is easy to see why the though might occur to Texas to play Edmond at that position.

Edmond has a very good, quick first step and really solid overall speed. His long arms would help keep the tackle from getting into him as he used that speed around the edge, Plus he has the size -- 265 is well within his reach and Alex Okafor played at 262 last season -- to more than hold his on the edge.

Where Edmond struggled at linebacker last year, and those struggles continued right up through the Alamo Bowl, was finding his way through traffic and to the ball. At defensive end, at least in pass rush situations, he would not have to contend with so many bodies in front of him. It is more of see-ball, get-ball situation. Run-stopping from the defensive end spot would have to be more of a learned skill. Edmond was not fantastic in shedding blockers last season. But, again, he does have the frame to be successful in warding off blockers.

Texas does have some depth at defensive end. Caleb Bluiett, a freshman, showed some upside in the spring game and could enter the rotation. But right now there are four defensive ends -- Reggie Wilson, Cedric Reed, Jackson Jeffcoat and Shiro Davis -- ahead of even Bluiett. Edmond does have a redshirt year left and, if this a route Texas and Edmond want to take, it might not be a bad move to take that this season.

As for the linebacker position, it could survive without Edmond. Without him, Texas still has six guys who started at least one game last season. So there are plenty of bodies as well as at least two guys -- Santos and Kendall Thompson -- who could play middle linebacker.

So there is a clear path to make the move. Now Texas, which has been selective and successful in making such moves in the past, has to decide if that is the right path for Edmond.