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
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.