BEVO BEAT

The Texas 22: Starting at inside linebacker — Anthony Wheeler

Posted August 24th, 2017

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We’re breaking down who we think will be Texas’ starting lineup, a combined effort from Mike Craven, Brian Davis and Danny Davis. We’re doing two a day, one offensive and one defensive player.

ANTHONY WHEELER

Junior inside linebacker, 6-4, 250

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High school: Rockwall

Signing class: 2015

Career games: 23

Career starts: 9

Career numbers: 101 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss. .5 sacks, 2 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery

Memorable games:

1. Wheeler’s best overall game came last year against Baylor — nine tackles (six of them solo) and two forced fumbles.

2. Against Baylor in 2015, he had six tackles, one pass breakup and recovered a fumble that led to a Longhorns touchdown drive.

3. He set a freshman season high with eight tackles against Texas Tech.

WHO HE WAS — BEFORE TEXAS

Wheeler was one of five national top 100 players to sign with Texas in 2015. The group ranked No. 10 nationally and No. 1 in the Big 12, per 247Sports’ composite. Wheeler was the second-highest rated member in the class, trailing only Malik Jefferson, a five-star linebacker. Wheeler was an outside linebacker prospect who checked in as the No. 75 overall player in his class and the No. 7 outside linebacker prospect in the entire country. He was ranked No. 12 on the Fabulous 55.

Texas scored an upset Oklahoma to get his signature late in the cycle. Wheeler committed to Texas a month before signing day.

Wheeler finished his senior season with 137 tackles, including 21 behind the line of scrimmage, and seven sacks. He was the defensive MVP of District 9-6A and received an invitation to the Under Armour All-America Game. He was a two-time all-state selection and finished his junior year with 110 tackles and six sacks.

Anthony-Wheeler, Texas-football
Texas linebacker Anthony Wheeler(45) looks to contain Baylor running back Terence Williams(22) in the third quarter at Royal-Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

WHO WHEELER HAS BEEN HERE — SO FAR

Wheeler found snaps immediately and ended his freshman season with 36 tackles and a fumble recovery. He spent most of his time as a substitute linebacker and a contributor on special teams before earning starts against Kansas State and Baylor. His best game as a freshman was an eight-tackle performance against Texas Tech.

He earned more playing time as a sophomore. Wheeler started seven of the 11 games he participated in. Despite missing a game he ended the year as Texas’ leading tackler, with 65. He also recorded 2.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, two pass breakups and half a sack. He set a career high with 11 tackles against UTEP.

WHO TEXAS NEEDS HIM TO BE THIS SEASON

Wheeler led Texas in tackles last year and even missed the 45-37 win at Texas Tech, when plenty of defensive opportunities existed. Still, Texas will be asking for even more from him this year. Todd Orlando has described Wheeler as a physical player, but Texas’ new defensive coordinator has also stated that it’s his job to “to make sure he understands that the middle linebacker spot is the quarterback of the defense.” Wheeler told reporters this month that he has been working daily on his communication and leadership skills.

The Texas 22 — so far:

Offense:

QB Shane Buechele

RB Chris Warren III

WR Armanti Foreman

WR Reggie Hemphill-Mapps

TE Andrew Beck

LG Patrick Vahe

C Zach Shackelford

RG Jake McMillon

RT Tristan Nickelson

Defense:

DE Malcolm Roach

DT Poona Ford

DT Chris Nelson

OLB Malik Jefferson

ILB Anthony Wheeler

OLB Naashon Hughes

CB Kris Boyd

CB Holton Hill

NB P.J. Locke III

S DeShon Elliott

S Brandon Jones

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