Texas Longhorns: Tevin Jackson

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 them. We're going down the roster from No. 1 Shiro Davis all the way to No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 11 Tevin Jackson
Senior linebacker


Recruitment rewind: Jackson, the No. 86 recruit in the class of 2010, committed to Texas on the same day as his Garland (Texas) teammate Adrian Phillips and was praised by Mack Brown on signing day for his speed and toughness. But a transcript issue prevented Jackson from qualifying out of high school. He was forced to sit out a year and joined the program in the summer of 2011.

Career so far: Jackson has made a dent on special teams, but we still haven’t seen his breakthrough at linebacker. He recovered two fumbles on special teams as a freshman and thrived there again as a sophomore, enough to earn a chance to start Texas’ final two games in 2013. He finished with three sacks that season and showed potential as a pass rusher. But injuries derailed his development: He dislocated his shoulder last spring, then suffered a season-ending ACL tear against Kansas.

Best-case scenario for 2014: A return to form from 2012. That season, Texas had to put pretty much every linebacker on its roster in the starting lineup at various times. Jackson closed out his second season well and had Manny Diaz encouraged about his future. Right now he’s at best Texas’ fifth-best linebacker -- but that would still mean a lot of snaps if he can stay healthy.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: Jackson’s production as a reserve linebacker last season was minimal (five tackles in eight games), and he’s in jeopardy of falling even farther behind after missing all of spring ball this season. He needs to heal up and show those pass-rushing talents again if he wants a chance at contributing this season.

Future expectations: Texas has a lot of intriguing pieces but no obvious long-term plan when it comes to linebackers. The guys who used to be the youngsters -- Dalton Santos and Peter Jinkens -- are already juniors. Whether second-year 'backers Naashon Hughes and Deoundrei Davis are the answer remains to be seen. It’s not too late for Jackson to fight his way back up to a starting job, but doing so will require beating out a bunch of talented, experienced players.
As we close in on national signing day, it’s an appropriate time to look back at how the top Big 12 recruits from four years ago performed.

2010 was a banner year for the Big 12 in recruiting, as the league collectively landed 23 from the ESPN 150.

A few, such as Jackson Jeffcoat, Ahmad Dixon and Shaun Lewis, became stars. Others washed out before their careers ever got off the ground.

[+] EnlargeSterling Shepard and Jackson Jeffcoat
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsFormer five-star prospect Jackson Jeffcoat finished his career as the best defensive end in the Big 12.
Below is a closer look at what happened to ESPN 150 players who signed with Big 12 schools:

No. 2: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas – Though he never reached a high level of team success, Jeffcoat had a great individual end to his career, earning Big 12 co-Defensive Player of the Year honors and leading the league with 13 sacks.

No. 4: Jordan Hicks, LB, Texas – Hicks has been good when he has played. Because of multiple injuries, that hasn’t been often. Hicks missed most of last season with a torn Achilles, just a year after also being knocked out with a hip flexor injury. After getting a medical redshirt from his 2012 season, Hicks has one more year of eligibility remaining.

No. 13: Mike Davis, WR, Texas – Davis finished in the Big 12’s top 10 in receiving the last two seasons, compiling 200 career catches and 18 touchdown receptions.

No. 14: Taylor Bible, DT, Texas – Bible never played a down at Texas, leaving after his redshirt freshman season because of issues with grades. Bible ended up at Carson-Newman.

No. 15: Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor – Dixon had a tremendous tenure with his hometown school, earning All-Big 12 and All-American honors as a senior as Baylor captured its first Big 12 title in 2013.

No. 18: Demarco Cobbs, ATH, Texas – The Tulsa, Okla., native has appeared in 29 games on special teams and as a defensive reserve. He missed all of the 2013 season with a knee injury.

No. 20: Darius White, WR, Texas – After making just six catches his first two seasons, White transferred to Missouri. He caught just seven passes this season for the Tigers, but has another year of eligibility left.

No. 21: Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma – In his first season, Jefferson was the Big 12 co-Defensive Freshman of the year, and he was a three-year starter before leaving early to go pro.

No. 46: Ashton Dorsey, DT, Texas – After serving as a reserve throughout his career, Dorsey was projected to start this season, but he transferred out days before Texas’ season opener.

No. 48: Austin Haywood, TE, Oklahoma – After getting playing time as a third tight end early in his career, Haywood unexpectedly quit in the middle of the season, tried to earn his way back on the team, failed and ended up transferring to Central Arkansas. After getting suspended there, Haywood gave up football.

No. 62: Corey Nelson, LB, Oklahoma – Nelson shined early this season after finally getting a chance to be a full-time starter. That, however, was short-lived, as Nelson tore his pectoral muscle in an early October win over TCU and sat out the rest of his final season.

No. 65: Blake Bell, QB, Oklahoma – The “Belldozer” starred his first two seasons as a situational, short-yardage QB. But in the preseason, Bell was beaten out by Trevor Knight for the starting job. Bell, however, still had his moments this season because of injuries to Knight. He led OU to a win at Notre Dame, then quarterbacked OU’s game-winning touchdown drive at Oklahoma State.

No. 72: Reggie Wilson, DE, Texas – He appeared in 51 games as a defensive reserve. Wilson had 19 tackles and a sack as a senior.

No. 73: Chris Jones, WR, Texas – Jones transferred out after one year, and never played.

No. 75: Shaun Lewis, LB, Oklahoma State – Lewis made an immediate impact, earning Big 12 co-Defensive Freshman of the Year honors along with Tony Jefferson. Lewis was a four-year starter and a big piece in Oklahoma State’s defensive turnaround this season.

[+] EnlargeBrennan Clay
Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY SportsFormer ESPN 150 recruit Brennan Clay was a solid, not spectacular, tailback for the Sooners.
No. 77: Quentin Hayes, S, Oklahoma – After serving a year-long suspension, Hayes returned to win a starting job this past season. He has another year left.

No. 86: Tevin Jackson, LB, Texas – Jackson has been a backup linebacker for the Longhorns and will be part of the team’s great depth there in 2014.

No. 103: Adrian White, CB, Texas – Played in 17 games, then joined the mass transfer exodus from this Texas class.

No. 109: Ivan McCartney, WR, West Virginia – McCartney never became a No. 1 receiver, though he did contribute on West Virginia’s explosive offenses in 2011-12. He only had 12 catches this past season as a senior, however.

No. 114: Aaron Benson, LB, Texas – The cousin of former Texas running back great Cedric Benson has only been a contributor on special teams.

No. 122: Carrington Byndom, S, Texas – One of the few players from this Texas class to pan out. Byndom made 39 career starts and was a second-team All-Big 12 selection this past season.

No. 129: Brennan Clay, RB, Oklahoma – Clay proved to be a reliable and steady force in the OU backfield. He finished his career with 1,913 rushing yards, including 957 in 2013.

No. 134: Adrian Philips, ATH, Texas – Phillips settled in the Texas secondary, collecting 28 career starts there. He was second on the team this past season with 82 tackles.

No. 141: Trey Hopkins, OG, Texas – Hopkins became a stalwart up front, making 42 career starts along the offensive line. He was a two-time, second-team All-Big 12 selection.

No. 142: Justin McCay, ATH, Oklahoma – McCay transferred to Kansas after two years in Norman. He had nine receptions and a touchdown, which also was the first scoring catch by a Kansas wide receiver in almost two full seasons.

Planning for success: Texas

October, 3, 2013
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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. 11 Tevin Jackson
Junior linebacker



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Question of the Week: Let's talk trades 

May, 9, 2013
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Free agency might be a long way off from never in college football -- at least as far as players are concerned. Coaches, they come and go. Players stick.

But now the time has come to change all that, if only for a day and if only for the purposes of this week’s question of the week. With that in mind and those rules set, here then is the aforementioned question: If you, as Texas’ general manager, could trade for one player within the Big 12, who would it be? And who would you give up for that player?


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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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Four downs: Defense in the details 

March, 6, 2013
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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
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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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Horns Snapshot: OLB Deoundrei Davis 

February, 2, 2013
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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
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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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AUSTIN, Texas -- With everybody taking a collective exhale from a season gone, well, nowhere, the time has come for the young players to start to inhale as much knowledge, time and wisdom as possible.

[+] EnlargePeter Jinkens
WD/Icon SMIFreshman linebacker Peter Jinkens had 15 tackles for the Longhorns in the last three games.
Texas’ first set of 15 spring practices -- given the 80 degree temps in Austin, the slightly skewed labeling is more than apropos -- has arrived. So at least there is something to warm this winter of discontent. There are also plenty of someones poised to benefit from the 15 extra practices awarded as part of reaching a bowl.

This is the time for the young players to step up, take notice and make themselves noticed. Given that Texas played 16 true freshmen this year and 18 last year, there is not too much youth left to be discovered. But as Texas remains at eight wins and holding, there is plenty of room for improvement from that youth.

This is, after all, the same time period a year ago in which David Ash converted himself from a liability into a strikingly average quarterback in the Holiday Bowl. His transformation, though possibly underwhelming to those who had not witnessed where he had come from and what he achieved, earned him the bowl game MVP and the edge in the 2012 quarterback derby. Ash, who regressed with three turnovers and a benching in his last start, is back in the same spot again this year.

For now it is time to look at three players who could benefit the most and rise the highest as Texas prepares for Oregon State in the Dec. 29 Valero Alamo Bowl.

Peter Jinkens, linebacker, freshman

Sure he starts and he will continue to be a starter in the Alamo Bowl. But while the freshman has added some pop, speed and exuberance to a defense severely lacking in bellicosity at times, he is far from perfect.

But Jinkens, along with linebacker Tevin Jackson, have brought a dimension to the linebackers that was lacking in several games following the injury to Jordan Hicks. Both fly to the ball and appeared to be heavily invested emotionally in the results of their play. This is a defense that is searching for some sort of spark, and Jinkens appears to have the makeup and game to provide that.

Now, Jinkens must gather the instruction and confidence necessary to be an impact player in the bowl game and beyond. Right now he does not know where he is going at all times. It’s more "see ball, hit ball," as defensive coordinator Manny Diaz likes to say. While that works, it will not consistently work and could get Jinkens in trouble on misdirections, etc. And a player who consistently runs the wrong way will not get many teammates to follow him.

Jinkens does appear to have the makings of a leader and now is the time he starts his campaign toward that goal.

Shiro Davis, defensive end, freshman

When Jackson Jeffcoat went down the thought was Davis’ playing time would spike. His redshirt was pulled and everyone was ready for the defensive end to use his speed to get to the quarterback. It didn’t happen because Davis wasn't ready.

He had spent most of the season buried deep on the depth chart, not getting any significant practice reps. So to throw him in midseason and expect him to swim past the tackles of the Big 12 was a big -- and unrealistic -- ask.
Davis’ role might not increase too much in the bowl game. Alex Okafor will be healed form the ankle injury, and Reggie Wilson and Cedric Reed have also played well.

So for Davis, these practices become an essential time for him to show what abilities he does bring to the field, because the evaluations for next season have already begun. If Davis can prove that he has an extra gear it will allow the coaches to know they have four reliable defensive ends returning next season and they can plan accordingly.


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Valero Alamo Bowl

December, 2, 2012
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Texas Longhorns (8-4) vs. Oregon State Beavers (9-3)

Dec. 29, 6:45 p.m. ET, San Antonio (ESPN)

Texas take from LonghornNation's Carter Strickland: The Longhorns stumbled down the stretch, losing their last two games to finish the regular season third in the Big 12.

While most projections called for Texas to finish right around third in the conference -- second was a possibility but thought to be a distant one -- the 8-4 overall record is looked at as a disappointment because of who the Longhorns lost to and how they lost.

Oklahoma and Kansas State, the top two teams in the Big 12, beat Texas by a combined 60 points, but the fact that the Longhorns most likely were going to lose to both of those teams had been accepted prior to the start of the season.

The other two losses -- to TCU and West Virginia -- were seen more as swing games. Texas lost those two by a combined 10 points. That both losses were at home didn't exactly thrill the fan base.

Now Texas is at a loss as to which quarterback, David Ash or Case McCoy, should lead the team. Ash started the first 11 games but was pulled twice due to inconsistent play and turnovers. McCoy started the final game against Kansas State and threw for 314 yards with 17 straight completions at one point. But McCoy had two costly interceptions as well.

On defense, Texas was one of the most porous in both the conference and the nation. But a month of bowl practice may help heal defensive end Alex Okafor and build confidence in replacement linebackers Tevin Jackson and Peter Jinkens.

Texas needs one more win to finish one game better than last season's record of 8-5. If the Longhorns can do that it might lend slightly more credibility to Texas coach Mack Brown's continued stump speeches about the Longhorns having improved from last year.




Oregon State take by Pac-12 blogger Kevin Gemmell: Oregon State head coach Mike Riley has a decision to make. OSU's regular-season finale against Nicholls State was as much an open quarterback tryout between Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz as it was a quest for a ninth win. Both have had highs and lows throughout the season, so it will be interesting to see which way Riley goes in the postseason as the Beavers look for their first Bowl win since a 3-0 victory against Pittsburgh in the 2008 Sun Bowl.

Both quarterbacks looked outstanding against Nicholls State -- granted, it was against a one-win FCS team. Yet both made their cases with efficient performances.

But the true stars of Oregon's State's team this year have been seniors Markus Wheaton (receiver) and Jordan Poyer (cornerback). They were catalysts for one of the best turnarounds in college football in 2012. Last season, the Beavers were 3-9 and many questioned whether Riley's job was secure.

Wheaton is one of the most dangerous, yet underappreciated receivers in the country. He's not only made his quarterback better with his sure hands and blistering speed, but his presence also helped give rise to up-and-coming receiver Brandin Cooks. The duo went for more than 1,000 receiving yards each, so they'll test the Texas secondary.

Across the field, Poyer, an All-American, comes in with a Pac-12 best seven interceptions. He's supported by an outstanding defense that was second only to Stanford in points allowed per game. Scott Crichton (nine sacks, 15 tackles for a loss) headlines a front seven that was one of the tougher groups in the conference this season.

Five storylines: Texas vs. Kansas State 

November, 29, 2012
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Five storylines for No. 18 Texas' game at No. 6 Kansas State on Saturday:

1. Cotton Bowl bound?
Texas wins and it is almost assuredly in the Cotton Bowl. Texas loses and it is almost assuredly in the Cotton Bowl.

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Texas 10: Week 13 power rankings 

November, 26, 2012
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Each week, HornsNation will rank Texas' top 10 performers of the season up to this point:

1. DE Alex Okafor: The ankle injury Okafor suffered against TCU served as a necessary reminder that he’s the most irreplaceable cog of this Texas defense, both in performance and leadership.

[+] EnlargeMike Davis
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesTexas wideout Mike Davis has 51 catches and 891 yards receiving this season, plus seven touchdown grabs.
2. S Kenny Vaccaro: Had a strong senior night, leading Texas with 10 tackles and playing all over the field. No Longhorns defender gets asked to do more in a game than Vaccaro on a weekly basis.

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Big 12 Weekend Wrap: Dec. 9
National recruiting reporter Jeremy Crabtree breaks down the top weekend storylines from the Big 12.
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BIG 12 SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
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Thursday, 1/1
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