- Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer
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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. 33 Steve Edmond
Recruitment rewind: The top-rated linebacker in Texas for the 2011 class, Edmond ranked No. 55 in the final ESPN 150 and chose Texas after taking visits to UT and Oklahoma. He put up some crazy numbers in his final season at Daingerfield (Texas) High, too: 159 tackles, 26 TFL, four sacks, eight forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two INTs (and he kicked PATs). The East Texas native had a reputation for being one bad dude on the field.
Career so far: Edmond appeared in 12 games as a true freshman backup, then moved up to a starting role when Texas' senior linebackers graduated. He started 12 games in 2012 and had his ups and downs, but did finish second on the team in tackles with 103. His play up the middle seemed to be improving last season (and who could forget that crazy game-winning INT at West Virginia), but Edmond's season ended early in November when a blindside block from Texas Tech WR Eric Ward caused a lacerated liver. Edmond was also in the news this spring for declaring his disrespect for Baylor.
Best-case scenario for 2014: Is the ceiling for Edmond an All-Big 12 caliber season? Maybe so. We've seen flashes of great things from Edmond in recent years, of a linebacker who can take on blocks, stop the run and make freaky athletic plays from time to time. What makes Edmond a little tougher to project is that he's now working with his third linebackers coach in three years. It's not outside the realm of possibility that Charlie Strong and his defensive coaches see a 'backer with the right size and speed to sneak up to the line of scrimmage from time to time in hybrid roles.
Worst-case scenario for 2014: Seems like we bring this up every offseason, but the looming threat for Edmond will continue to be the progression of Dalton Santos. Neither has maxed out his potential yet, but both are now upperclassmen with legit playing experience. Unless Texas relies on three-man defensive line fronts this fall, there won't be many games on the schedule that call for base 4-3 sets. If you only need one of those two on the field at a time, and Santos proves he deserves plenty of action, perhaps we could see a timeshare at middle linebacker.
Future expectations: Edmond is one of those players who could be a fascinating weapon in the hands of this respected defensive staff. What will they see in him? He'll be a third-year starter, and though he has a reputation for being quiet, his voice will matter in the locker room. It's a contract year for Edmond, a final chance to prove to NFL scouts he can be a difference-maker at the next level. He might be a bit underrated, all things considered, but Edmond still has a ton to prove in 2014.
423dBrandon Chatmon and Jake Trotter