Texas defensive end Charles Omenihu and Malcolm Roach celebrate a sack against Baylor Bears during the NCAA college football game, Saturday, October 29, 2016 at Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

BEVO BEAT Football

The Texas 22: Starting at defensive end — Charles Omenihu

Getting to the quarterback has always been what he's done best, and the Longhorns are hoping he continues his rise.

Posted August 31st, 2018

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We’re breaking down Texas’ starting lineup, in alphabetical order on both sides.

Charles Omenihu

Senior defensive lineman, 6-6, 275

High school: Rowlett

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Signing class: 2015

Career games: 37

Career starts: 19

Career numbers: 71 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 7 sacks

Who he was — before Texas

Omenihu was a two-time all-district selection in his varsity career at Rowlett. The three-star recruit participated in the 2015 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl and was a first-team all-district selection as a senior after racking up 61 tackles, including 23 for loss, and 11.5 sacks. He also forced five fumbles. He was a second-team all-district selection as a junior after finishing the year with 50 tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble.

Texas defensive lineman Charles Omenihu (90) tackles Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill (5) in the second half of a Big 12 Conference football game at Royal-Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

Who Omenihu has been here — so far

Omenihu was a reserve defensive end as a freshman, finishing the 2015 season with 17 tackles, a forced fumbled and a recovered fumble. He made his way into the starting lineup as a sophomore, ending the year with 26 tackles and 3.5 sacks. He started seven of 12 games, but his production and time on the field decreased as the season progressed.

The switch to an odd-man front reliant on big, athletic defensive ends under new defensive coordinator Todd Orlando before the 2017 season rejuvenated Omenihu’s career. He started every game except Baylor. He recorded 28 tackles and four sacks, while occupying blocks to allow linebackers like Malik Jefferson and Gary Johnson to run free and make plays.

Who Texas needs him to be this season

Omenihu flirted with the NFL this past offseason. But he elected to return to Texas since “I know how much more I can develop both as a player and as a leader.” A standout senior season could be beneficial for both Texas and Omenihu — Texas hasn’t had a defensive end taken in the NFL draft since Lamarr Houston in 2010.

Last year, Omenihu sacked two of the 2018 draft’s top three picks (Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, USC’s Sam Darnold). He also took down Drew Lock, who passed for 3,900 yards last year, in the Texas Bowl. Longhorns defensive backs haven’t shied away from crediting the linemen with pressuring teams into turnovers, so Omenihu and his fellow linemen will need to continue applying heat in a pass-happy conference that’s suddenly lacking in quarterback star power.

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: Elijah Rodriguez has settled in on the right side of the line

RT: Derek Kerstetter may have arrived as a guard, but he’s a tackle now

THE DEFENSE

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

DT: Chris Nelson, who signed alongside Poona Ford, now has Ford’s old starting spot

DL —

DE: Charles Omenihu has blossomed, thrived in Todd Orlando’s defensive scheme

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

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