We’re breaking down what we think will be Texas’ starting lineup. We’re doing two a day, one offensive and one defensive player, in alphabetical order on both sides.
Senior defensive end, 6-3, 255
High school: Westlake
Signing class: 2015
Career games: 34
Career starts: 9
Career numbers: 105 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks
Who he was — before Texas
The long-haired defensive terror was a three-star recruit out of Westlake High School. He spent his prep career at defensive end and linebacker, even playing some running back as a junior. He earned first-team all-district honors as a senior after registering 34 tackles and five sacks as a defensive end. Fourteen of his tackles that season came behind the line of scrimmage.
Texas was one of just five offers for the No. 74-ranked weakside defensive end in the 2015 class. Some of that lack of interest was due to his early commitment to the Longhorns. Hager was a three-time all-district selection. He was a second-team all-district selection at linebacker as a sophomore. He was a first-team all-district selection as a defensive end as a junior.
Who Hager has been here — so far
Hager made an immediate impact as a freshman, playing nine games on special teams and at linebacker. He finished the year with 18 tackles and one interception. His breakout season was 2016 when he started five games and played in all 12, ending his sophomore year with 64 tackles. He led the team with 13.5 tackles for loss and six sacks.
Hager couldn’t build on those numbers as a junior with a change in defensive philosophy under defensive coordinator Todd Orlando. He was moved to middle linebacker in the spring of 2017 before gravitating back toward the edge of the defense as the season began. He started four of the 13 games he played in and finished with 23 tackles and four sacks.
Who Texas needs him to be this season
Hager is already a favorite among fans and the media. Texas, though, needs him to justify that adoration on the field. Media members placed him on the Big 12’s preseason team, which was a bit of a surprise when you consider that his junior year consisted of 23 tackles and only one game with more than four stops.
He opened last year as a third-down linebacker, but Texas found a better use for his set of skills. Texas has depth on its defensive line, but the defense will benefit with having Hager’s energy on the field as much as possible.
Hager doesn’t need to replicate his statistics from 2016, but the Longhorns will need more than what they got in 2017.
Filling in the lineup
So far …
DE: Texas hopes Breckyn Hager can revert to the 2016 version of himself
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