Texas Longhorns: Kendall Thompson

Burnt Orange Breakdown: K. Thompson

June, 18, 2014
Before Texas begins its first season under Charlie Strong, we're taking a deep dive into all the talent he inherits in 2014. Our Burnt Orange Breakdown series will take a closer look at each scholarship player returning this fall and what we can expect from him. We're going down the roster from No. 1 Shiro Davis all the way to No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 35 Kendall Thompson
Senior linebacker

Recruitment rewind: Thompson, a three-star inside linebacker at Carthage (Texas) High, chose Texas over offers from Arkansas, Missouri and Houston in the spring before his senior year. He won three consecutive state titles at Carthage, finishing with 372 tackles (46 for loss) and 11 interceptions in his prep career. Texas recruited him to develop into an edge-rushing outside linebacker.

Career so far: Thompson played in all 13 games as a freshman, then earned seven starts as a sophomore in 2012. He finished the season with 60 tackles and overcame a concussion late in the year to put up one of his best games in the Alamo Bowl vs. Oregon State, with two TFLs, a sack and a pass breakup. He served as a backup last season and played in 11 games until, for the second straight season, he suffered a concussion against Texas Tech. Thompson did not play in Texas' spring game this year.

Best-case scenario for 2014: Thompson still appears on Texas' 2014 roster, but according to multiple reports this spring, he intends to end his playing career due to concussions. Between high school and college ball, Thompson has reportedly suffered four concussions in his career. Until Texas officials confirm this news, he's still on the team. But it seems likely Thompson's days in burnt orange are over. If he's in fact had four concussions, that's a perfectly reasonable decision. And if Thompson does elect to continue playing in 2014, you hope he can stay healthy and avoid any long-term damage.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: In light of that, the worst-case scenario for the Longhorns this fall will be if there's a revolving door of starters at linebacker. Such was the case for Texas in 2012, when a few key injuries led to nearly every player in the linebacker room having to enter the starting lineup at one point or another. New linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary already had to get by without several recovering players this spring. As the staff designs its new defensive schemes, they're going to need as many linebackers as possible healthy and ready to play.

Planning for success: Texas

October, 3, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas -- When the news came out Monday that all three linebackers of Texas’ 2012 recruiting class are now starting, the collective response from Dalton Santos, Peter Jinkens and Timothy Cole was universal: This is going to be fun.

If the celebrating the trio has done on their Twitter accounts is any indication, it’s safe to say the second-year linebackers are more than up to the challenge Thursday night at Iowa State (6:30 p.m. CT, ESPN). This week, their contributions should be critical.

[+] EnlargePeter Jinkens
Cooper Neill/Getty ImagesPeter Jinkens is part of an all-Class-of-2012 starting linebacking corps that Texas will unleash against Iowa State.
Texas defensive coordinator Greg Robinson was looking for a spark in the wake of losing the Longhorns' most talented linebacker, junior Jordan Hicks. His season-ending torn Achilles was the last thing Robinson needed in his quest to repair the run defense.

The Longhorns defense fell apart without Hicks last season during its toughest five-game stretch. His absence opened the door for others, and a total of seven linebackers earned starts in 2012.

Yet Robinson didn’t chose any of the remaining six to take over for Hicks. He picked Cole, a redshirt freshman from Brenham, Texas, who’s spent nearly all of his debut season on special teams.

“Tim did a tremendous job against Kansas State on special teams, and because of that and practice the last four days, Greg Robinson is convinced he wants Tim out there as a starter,” Texas coach Mack Brown said.

There’s the benefit of getting a fresh set of eyes on Texas’ linebackers. Cole wasn’t in line to contribute much to that unit before Robinson took over for Manny Diaz last month.

A four-star prospect who came to Texas last year with best friend Malcom Brown, Cole makes up for non-prototypical size (he’s listed at 6-foot-2, but that’s generous) with a strong football IQ and a knack for leadership.

When Texas was recruiting him, Brenham coach Glen West vowed that Cole would end up being a team captain for Texas. His new coaches don’t doubt that, and teammates recognized what made Cole unique early on.

“Since he got here, he was different than a lot of other guys,” defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said. “I knew he was a little more mature than other guys. His football game has come a long way since he first got here, but he looks good. He knows he has to step up and play well, and I think he will.”

He’ll team up tonight with Jinkens and Santos, two high-energy sophomores coming off strong finishes in Texas’ win over Kansas State. Steve Edmond will likely have some role in the game, but he can’t play in the first half after receiving a targeting ejection in the second half against KSU.

Juniors Tevin Jackson and Kendall Thompson were the presumptive favorites to step into the lineup in Hicks’ place, but the Longhorns’ young trio won over their new position coach.

They’ll have to reward his faith with a stout showing against the Cyclones, who got a 137-yard rushing performance out of newcomer Aaron Wimberly last week vs. Tulsa.

In their first three game without Hicks last fall, Texas’ defense let opposing running backs produce games of 199, 207 and 167 yards, respectively. That can’t happen again, not if the Longhorns are hoping to turn the season around after a 2-2 start.

What matters more to Brown, though, is the leadership void that Texas must fill now that Hicks won’t be on the field. Jeffcoat said he’ll take on the responsibility along with defensive tackle Chris Whaley and defensive backs Carrington Byndom and Adrian Phillips.

Simply having more seniors to rely on this time around means more accountability across the board.

“That’s a lot of guys who can keep their positions up and make sure guys don’t start slacking off and guys pick up the slack from what was lost with Jordan,” Jeffcoat said.

The sophomores are doing their part, too. Of the 25 members of Texas’ 2012 class still on campus, Cole is about to become the 13th to earn a start.

While others broke into the starting lineup in year one, Cole was patient. He kept working and kept waiting for an opportunity. Here it is.

“He’s upbeat and positive and smart and never makes a mistake,” Brown said. “Greg Robinson said the other day, ‘Don’t tell him something that’s wrong, because he’s going to remember it and he’s going to do it.’ He just plays so hard. It’ll be fun to watch him on Thursday night.”
AUSTIN, Texas – Texas has 19 starters returning, a two-deep no longer as shallow as the Pedernales River, a coach who has been pointing to this year during the tumult of the last two and a team that's been as high as No. 4 in some of the preseason rankings.

During the summer, HornsNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Texas roster -- excluding the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class -- in our Burnt Orange Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1 Mike Davis, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 35 Kendall Thompson
Junior linebacker

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AUSTIN, Texas -- Each week Sean Adams looks at a few topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First down: Questions about running backs

Will Texas' transition to a spread attack on offense be unfriendly to the running backs? No. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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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.

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Four downs: Defense in the details 

March, 6, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas -- Each week Sean Adams looks at a few topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First down: Winning is in the details ...

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Position breakdown: Linebacker 

February, 20, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas -- Jordan Hicks has been given time to heal. The rest of the Texas linebackers have had to lick some wounds as well.

Now all of them -- although just how much Hicks participates in the wake of his season-ending hip injury remains in the air -- get to start anew this spring. And that includes their position coach, Manny Diaz.

Diaz is back for his third season as the linebacker coach. After a first season, in which Diaz was handed fundamentally sound, veteran linebackers and excelled, Year Two saw Diaz struggle mightily teaching younger, inexperienced players.

Now all involved have some seasoning and that should help the progression of what was the worst unit for Texas in 2012.

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Breaking down spring camp: Texas

February, 20, 2013
As spring camps begin, we'll offer up a preview and let you know what to watch for in each team's 15 practices over the next couple of months. Texas will start spring practice first, so today we start with the Longhorns.

Schedule: The Longhorns begin spring practice on Thursday and will host a spring game on March 30.

What's new: Offensive playcalling duties have fallen to co-coordinator Major Applewhite now, who was promoted when partner Bryan Harsin left to become Arkansas State's head coach. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz mulled a move after the season, but ultimately stuck around to help revive a defense that struggled in 2012.

On the mend: Defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat will likely be limited after undergoing surgery on a torn pectoral, but linebacker Jordan Hicks should return following a hip injury that cost him his 2012 season and a sexual assault charge that was eventually dropped stemming from an incident during the Longhorns' bowl trip.

Stepping up: Kenny Vaccaro's versatility will be tough to replace, but figuring out who will try and fill his role at safety will be huge for Texas' defense during the spring. My money is on Mykkele Thompson, but don't rule out junior Josh Turner or even a position move for physical junior cornerback Quandre Diggs.

New faces: Texas is welcoming a handful of early enrollees this spring, headlined by quarterback Tyrone Swoopes. Offensive lineman Jake Raulerson, the 2013 class' first commit, is also enrolled along with linebacker Deoundrei Davis and tight end Geoff Swaim, the nation's No. 4 junior college player at the position.

Breaking out: Linebacker Peter Jinkens already made an impact as a true freshman, but don't be surprised if he leaves spring practice with a starting gig, beating out a few older players like Steve Edmond and Kendall Thompson. Jinkens earned a start against Iowa State and snagged an interception in Texas' Alamo Bowl win over Oregon State, but the 6-foot-1, 213-pounder from Dallas could be a budding star in a linebacking corps that needs help after a disappointing 2012.

Under the radar: Texas struggled in the kicking game throughout 2012, making just 11 of 19 attempts, the lowest percentage of any Big 12 team. Nick Jordan had to carry the load as a freshman while Penn State transfer Anthony Fera battled a groin injury. They'll be back to battle this spring, and though it won't get much attention in a camp loaded with intrigue, its importance can't be overstated for a team that doesn't hang points by the buckets and played in six games decided by one possession a year ago.

All eyes on: Quarterback David Ash. Being just OK is no longer acceptable. He was reasonably efficient last season with a passer rating of over 153, but faltered late in the season and struggled with inconsistency. If Texas is going to be great, he has to be great, and most importantly, consistent. No more well-deserved benchings in favor of Case McCoy. Ash limited his interceptions and was fifth in the league in passer rating, but he's got to be even better as a junior.

Horns Snapshot: OLB Deoundrei Davis 

February, 2, 2013
To gear up for 2013 national signing day, HornsNation’s William Wilkerson is breaking down every commitment in the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class.

Vitals: Outside linebacker Deoundrei Davis, Cypress, Texas/Cy Woods | 6-foot-2, 215 pounds

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Will 2013 Texas class make early impact? 

December, 22, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas -- Nobody has played more true freshmen than Texas over the past two years.

Eighteen hit the field in 2011. Another 16 in 2012.

[+] EnlargeMack Brown
Kevin Jairaj/US PresswireMack Brown's 2013 recruiting class might not be needed to contribute early because of the Longhorns' young roster.
In 2013, few teams will play less newcomers than the Longhorns. The simple fact is Texas, despite the record, is loaded with returning talent at every position. And those few freshmen who did not play at the start of their careers are starting to appear more and more ready to step up now.

"In fact, all of them have looked really good," said Texas coach Mack Brown of the redshirts participating in bowl practice. "I think that's a great class. For us to have played 16 of them and the ones that didn't play looked good. So it will be fun to watch those guys through the spring."

That fun might have to be tempered with a few hard decisions when it comes to mixing and matching where to put the bodies. But that there finally are experienced bodies in place bodes well for Texas, even if doesn’t for those in the incoming class of 2013 who want to play right away.

The grumblings probably won’t be too loud, however, simply because there are not that many voices to be heard. Texas has 12 commitments from high school players with quite possibly only one more high school prospect becoming a commitment, Andrew Billings (Waco, Texas/Waco). If that remains the case, this will be the smallest class of high school players Brown has signed in his tenure at Texas.

Texas has and is expected to continue to try and supplement this class with junior college players. De'Vondre Campbell (Hutchinson, Kan./ Hutchinson CC) is a possibility at linebacker and Geoff Swaim (Chico, Calif./Butte CC) is coming in as a tight end. There might be more to come. And that further clogs up the playing pipeline for next year’s true freshmen.

Whether or not Campbell signs with Texas, the linebacker spot should have enough bodies so that Deoundrei Davis (Cypress, Texas/ Cypress Woods) is not pressed into early playing time. Texas should have a healthy Jordan Hicks back as well as returning starter Steve Edmond and the emerging Peter Jinkens as the first group. That leaves Texas with a strong group of reserves in Tevin Jackson, Dalton Santos, Kendall Thompson, and Demarco Cobbs. Thompson has started in the past and will get a shot. Cobbs also has started but might be seen as more of a third down specialist in the future.

Texas has three defensive backs committed and that is a spot where the Longhorns will be weakened by the departure of safety Kenny Vaccaro. But moves have already been made to shore up that weakness. Cornerback Quandre Diggs, one of Texas’ best defensive players, has been shifted to safety during bowl practice

"[Defensive backs coach Duane Akina] always likes to move them around and if you have more corners than safeties for next year, you're losing that toughness that Kenny Vaccaro brings and that confidence and leadership; so who will be the guy to step in there and to help that?" Browns said. "So Quandre has played about every day at safety, he knows what to do, and the other end of it."

Adrian Phillips played significantly better in the second half of the season at safety than the first. Mykkele Thompson should also be more prepared. At corner, Carrington Byndom is back, Duke Thomas is available and Josh Turner can play both. While the defensive back position is not loaded, there appear to be enough veteran players to keep Texas from having to dip down and grab someone like Antwuan Davis (Bastrop, Texas/Bastrop), Chevoski Collins (Livingston, Texas/Livingston) or Erik Huhn (Cibolo, Texas/Steele).

The defensive and offensive lines return everybody except defensive end Alex Okafor. Cedric Reed, Reggie Wilson and Shiro Davis will serve as Okafor’s replacement and Jackson Jeffcoat’s backup. So it is unlikely Jake Raulerson (Celina, Texas/Celina) will see any time. Defensive tackle is Texas’ deepest position and with Malcom Brown commanding more and more playing time there is not much sense is using A'Shawn Robinson (Fort Worth, Texas/ Arlington Heights) early.

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Five Storylines: Iowa State vs. Texas 

November, 8, 2012
Here is a look at five storylines that could determine the outcome of Texas' game vs. Iowa State:

1. Alarm Bells
The initial thought and executed plan when the first 11 a.m. kick time appeared on Texas’ schedule was to have the staff start with text messages to players between 6 and 6:30 a.m. on the Monday prior to the game and continue right on through Saturday. The theory was the players would get the message and have their internal clocks set by Saturday.

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3 Up, 3 Down: Texas 31, Texas Tech 22 

November, 4, 2012
After more than two seasons of suffering loss after loss to ranked teams, Texas pulled off a 31-22 upset of No. 18 Texas Tech Saturday. The win moved Texas to 7-2 with back-to-back home games against teams it should be favored against up next.


1. Mike Davis: The junior wide receiver has been the most viable downfield option for Texas all season. Davis got loose for touchdown catches of 75 and 25 yards and had a 54-yard reception to set up another touchdown for Texas. In the past four games, Davis has six receptions of 25 yards or more and has been targeted nine times on those passes.

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AUSTIN, Texas – Quandre Diggs talks like he plays -- fast, hard and with an edge.

So when the question as to why the defense has not lived up the hype was put to the Texas cornerback he came back with a quick punch: "You think everybody who comes on the field is automatically an all-American."

[+] EnlargeQuandre Diggs
AP Photo/Reed HoffmannCornerback Quandre Diggs, who has three interceptions on the season, has been arguably Texas' top defender this season.
Well, true. That is the perception of Texas because Texas does recruit and sign so many high school all-Americans. Over the past five years, Texas has had 51 ESPN top 150 players sign. For perspective, Baylor has had three. The Bears are only 25 spots worse in overall defense than Texas this season.

Where the real difference is that Texas was expected to be better. Check that, Texas was expected to be among the best. The players, the ones Texas brought in front of the media in the spring and fall camp, said the defense was better than the 2011 version that finished 11th in overall defense. Linebacker Steve Edmond moved like no big man they had seen before, they said. Defensive tackle Brandon Moore could block out the sun and throw aside offensive linemen with ease, the players said. And the secondary would be better due to a year of experience and the addition of a healthy Adrian Phillips, was the claim.

Then they played. And it was clear from the first 82-yard touchdown pass allowed against Wyoming this defense had issues.

Here then is a breakdown of why Texas has broken down on defense:

Linebackers: To pin all the issues on Jordan Hicks’ injury would be wrong. He was the leader of that group and the leading tackler before injuring his hip flexor against Ole Miss. But not even his play would have been able to mask the deficiencies present in the other players.

First off, Texas had no adequate backup for Hicks. It tried to play with three linebackers and put Demarco Cobbs in Hicks’ spot while bringing Kendall Thompson in to play the other outside linebacker. But it became apparent Cobbs’ speed, his greatest asset, was wasted due to his inability to use that speed to go in the right direction.

In addition, with the proliferation of spread teams Texas needed more defensive backs on the field and therefore would have to play more nickel and dime. So despite Cobbs being a former safety, he had to come off the field. (He did play more of a floater linebacker/safety role against Baylor on some plays and actually was not all bad.)

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LB Jordan Hicks 'trying hard to get back'

October, 29, 2012
Texas linebacker Jordan Hicks has not been ruled out for the remainder of the season, but he will not play against Texas Tech this weekend.

The junior outside linebacker was not listed on the Longhorns depth chart on Monday for the first time this season. He suffered a groin injury against Ole Miss on Sept. 15 and has not appeared in a game since.

[+] EnlargeJordan Hicks
Tim Warner/Icon SMIJordan Hicks hasn't played for the Longhorns since suffering a hip injury against Ole Miss.
According to a UT spokesperson, Texas has not made a determination on whether Hicks is done for the year.

“He’s really trying hard to get back,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “Obviously we thought it would be two to three weeks, and now we’re going on seven or eight.

“He wants to play. He was out there running with [strength coach] Bennie [Wylie] yesterday trying to see if he could get back, and they did not think he’d come far enough to play this Saturday.”

If he doesn’t play another game, Texas will seek a medical redshirt after the season for Hicks, a third-year junior. He would have two more years of eligibility. Hicks is expected to qualify for a medical redshirt because he played no more than three contests or 30 percent of this season.

Texas’ run defense has struggled considerably since Hicks went down, and the Longhorns have relied on sophomores Kendall Thompson and Tevin Jackson in his place. His absence has been significant from a leadership standpoint as well.

“He’s our defensive leader,” cornerback Quandre Diggs said. “He’s been that guy to get us going all the time. He goes out and he makes plays and he makes everyone feel a whole lot more comfortable. We have guys that have got to step up.”

Brown also said Monday that running back Malcolm Brown’s status for Saturday’s game against Texas Tech hasn’t been decided and will be evaluated depending on if he practices. Brown has missed Texas’ past four games with an ankle injury.


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