Texas Longhorns Football: Linebacker Rating

Seventh in a position-by-position series facing the 2022 Texas Longhorns after spring practice.

who is back: Lukas Brockermeyer, senior; Jett Bush, Sr.; Jaylan Ford, Junior; David Gbenda, Junior; Ovie Oghoufo, Senior; DeMarvion exaggerated, senior; Devin Richardson, older.

who is gone: Ayodele Adeoye, Terrence Cooks II, Jaden Hullaby, Marcus Tillman, Jr.

2022 signers: TrevellJohnson.

What to expect: Texas coach Steve Sarkisian believes this roster has some “front players” at linebackers. He might be right.

Fifth-year senior and standout weak point DeMarvion Overshown is back to anchor the defense while junior Jaylan Ford braces for a potential breakout at center.

Overshown was a Butkus Award semifinalist last season, his second at linebacker after converting from safety. He led Texas with 74 tackles, 5.5 tackles for losses and two fumble recoveries and was reliable in coverage. If the Longhorns use him more as a pass rusher in 2022, Overshown could become an uncontested NFL draft pick.

Ford flashed late in his sophomore season, recording 36 tackles in his last six games after scoring 17 in his first six games. Despite the slow start, he led Texas with six lost tackles and had the third most tackles overall.

That performance, coupled with a strong spring, is what got Ford into starting at Inside Linebacker, with last year’s starter Luke Brockermeyer potentially serving as a backup if his rehabilitation from knee surgery goes well.

“It was never about the ability,” Sarkisian said of Ford, “it was about the consistency of mentally working towards it every day. And I think he really jumped at the opportunity that was given to him. He’s a big, strong guy who can run. He’s a good tackler and I thought he made a move this spring to be that inside linebacker, feel comfortable and be a good run stopper. We saw several times in the running game where he was extremely physical.

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Depth gets tricky behind Ford and Overshown.

Last year’s starter at middle linebacker, Brockermeyer, sat out spring practice and is still recovering from a late-season ACL tear. Sophomore Morice Blackwell Jr. converted to safety with no intention of turning back. And four linebackers left the transfer portal in recent months, a group led by former four-star recruit Ayodele Adeoye.

Texas has not yet been able to fully recoup these losses. It has signed only one freshman linebacker, Arlington Martins three-star Trevell Johnson, and has failed to add available transfers to boost the numbers.

Sarkisian, defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski and inside linebackers coach Jeff Choate will continue to explore options to fill linebacker space through the portal. Regardless of who Texas adds, stronger contributions are needed from senior fifth-year Ovie Oghoufo — he started on the strong side a year ago when Kwiatkoswki fielded three linebackers — senior Devin Richardson, junior fourth-year David Gbenda, and Senior Jett Bush.

Gbenda was quiet for most of the 2021 season leading up to the finals against Kansas State. The 6-foot linebacker recorded seven one-sack tackles in the 22-17 win over the Wildcats, a team and career high, a “Here I am” statement game that affected winter conditioning and spring training.

The Football Writers Association named former New Mexico State Aggie Richardson a freshman linebacker back in 2019, but he mostly played on special teams last season, his first with Texas. Given the team’s current strength, he must be ready to take on a bigger role if anything happens to Ford.

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“I think David Gbenda is a versatile guy,” said Sarkisian. “I think Devin Richardson is a very smart guy. And I think Jett Bush, we really signed him (middle linebacker) and didn’t try to juggle him back and forth from the edge. And I think his commitment there showed, he’s a really good player against the run.”

This unit could be one of Texas’ most improved if Overshown’s health holds up and Ford keeps accelerating. Gbenda could also finally emerge as a key two-deep asset if he’s able to continue the momentum he’s been building over the past six months.

depth chart

Strong linebacker
Ovie Oghoufo
Jet Bush

midfield player
Jaylan Ford
Devin Richardson

Weak linebacker
DeMarvion exaggerated
David GBenda

Previous

May 3: quarterbacks
May 4th: run back
5th of May: wide receiver
8th of May: tight ends
May 11: offensive line
12th of May: line of defense

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