Texas defensive back P.J. Locke III celebrates a safety late in the fourth quarter against Missouri in the NCAA college football Texas Bowl game, at NRG Stadium Houston Texas. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

BEVO BEAT Football

The Texas 22: Starting at nickel back — P.J. Locke III

In a defensive secondary filled with experience, Locke's 19 career starts are second only to Kris Boyd's 20.

Posted August 27th, 2018

Advertisement

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.

P.J. Locke III

Senior nickel back, 5-11, 210

High school: Beaumont Central

Advertisement

Signing class: 2015

Career games: 33

Career starts: 19

Career numbers: 86 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions

Who he was — before Texas

Locke was an unheralded signee in the 2015 class. The Beaumont Central product was the No. 598-ranked prospect in the nation and the No. 39-ranked safety in his class, per 247Sports’ composite. He was the No. 34-ranked player on the Fabulous 55.

Locke held 35 offers, choosing UT over programs like Oregon and Baylor. He didn’t receive a Texas offer until Feb. 1 of the cycle, committed to Texas two days later and signed with the Longhorns on Feb. 4.

Locke was a three-year starter in high school, playing multiple spots on defense. As a senior he recorded 62 tackles, seven interceptions and 10 pass breakups. He returned one of those interceptions for a touchdown.

Texas defensive back P.J. Locke III (11) tackles Oklahoma State wide receiver Jalen McCleskey (1) in the first half of a Big 12 Conference football game at Royal-Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

Who Locke has been here — so far

Locke enters his senior season with 19 starts in 33 career games. With modern offenses, especially in the Big 12, playing multiple receivers nearly every snap, more than two corners are needed. The nickel corner is becoming an every-down position for the Texas defense and Locke was built for the duties of covering smaller, quicker slot receivers. He was selected a team captain before the 2017 season and started eight of the nine games he played in before injury cost him the final third of the campaign. He finished with 39 tackles.

He played in all 12 games as a freshman, primarily in spot duty on defense or on special teams. He finished the year with 14 tackles, a pass breakup and a forced fumble. He found his place as a nickel back during his sophomore season. He started nine games at the position. Locke recorded his first sack in the opener against Notre Dame and his first career interception later in the year in a win over Baylor.

Who Texas needs him to be this season

Elected a captain in 2017, Locke will be asked once again to provide leadership for a defense that ranked 29th nationally in scoring defense. Locke also can lean on his 19 starts, which are second only to cornerback Kris Boyd’s 20 on the defense.

Locke found himself on the wrong end of highlights against Maryland and Oklahoma State, but good things happen when he keeps his man in front of him. According to Pro Football Focus, no returning cornerback in the Big 12 allowed fewer first downs in coverage than Locke.

Filling in the lineup

So far …

THE OFFENSE

QB: Former Westlake star Sam Ehlinger was born to lead the Longhorns

RB —

WR: Legacy Longhorn Collin Johnson wants to put it all together

WR: He catches, he runs; Lil’Jordan Humphrey gives UT versatility

WR: Jerrod Heard’s journey to wide receiver has been a winding one

TE: Andrew Beck is eager to return from last year’s injury

LT: Calvin Anderson is back where he started (playing football in Austin)

LG —

C —

RG —

RT —

THE DEFENSE

DE: Texas hopes Breckyn Hager can revert to the 2016 version of himself

DT —

DL —

DE —

LB —

LB: Gary Johnson’s favorite destination spot? Wherever the ball is.

LB —

CB: Kris Boyd: Is the former Gilmer star ready to be UT’s alpha corner?

CB: Davante Davis gives Texas experience at the corner spot

NB: P.J. Locke III provides the Texas D with valuable experience

S: Brandon Jones enters Year 2 as a starter with defensive momentum

 

 

News on Bevo Beat is free and unlimited. Access to the rest of Hookem.com is included with an Austin American-Statesman subscription in addition to myStatesman.com and the ePaper edition. Subscribe today at statesman.com/subscribe.

Comments