Texas defensive coordinator Todd Orlando argues a call with an official during an NCAA college football game against TCU in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Football

Breaking down the defense: A position-by-position look at Texas’ roster, depth

Posted August 23rd, 2019

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Here’s where the Texas defense stands in term of roster and depth, by positions:

Defensive tackles

There are five — redshirt freshman Keondre Coburn, seniors Jamari Chisholm and Gerald Wilbon, junior D’Andre Christmas-Giles and redshirt freshman Moro Ojomo

Defensive line coach Oscar Giles has plenty of athleticism at his disposal. Coburn was one of the prized catches of the Longhohrns’ 2018 recruiting class, and now the 340-pound redshirt freshman is an anchor in the middle. The coaching staff is also high on Wilbon, Ojomo and Christmas-Giles, also tackles.

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Defensive ends

There are nine — senior Malcolm Roach, juniors Ta’Quon Graham and Marqez Bimage, freshman T’Vondre Sweat, sophomore Rob Cummins, junior Jacoby Jones, redshirt freshman Daniel Carson and freshmen Peter Mpagi and Myron Warren

Roach and Graham are the starting defensive ends. In the last two years, preseason expectations were low but nobody would have guessed how important exceptional members of this unit would ultimately become, as in Charles Omenihu in 2018.

Texas linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch (23) runs back an interception during an NCAA college football game against Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, on Friday, Nov. 23, 2018. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Inside linebackers

There are five — senior Jeffrey McCulloch, redshirt freshman Ayodele Adeoye, sophomore Juwan Mitchell, and freshmen DeGabriel Floyd and David Gbenda

McCulloch saw how well the seniors ahead of him always played in their final years, such as last year with Gary Johnson, who led the Longhorns in tackles. Now it’s his turn as the veteran leader. The Houston product has 66 career tackles, 3.5 sacks and one interception. And Adeoye redshirted last fall but logging time in the Sugar Bowl as well as games against Texas Tech, Iowa State and Kansas. Texas was counting on Floyd, but the freshman has been medically sidelined this season. The Horns also signed Mitchell from New Jersey.

Outside linebackers

There are four — sophomore Joseph Ossai, junior transfer Caleb Johnson, redshirt freshman Byron Vaughns and freshman Marcus Tillman

Ossai will be turned loose to cause havoc. Texas signed Johnson, a junior college transfer from Fullerton College, and have two promising freshmen in Vaughns and Tillman. And the Longhorns already have two highly-regarded prospects that are committed for the 2020 and 2021 classes.

Texas safety Brandon Jones (19) teams up with Caden Sterns (7) to tackle TCU receiver Jarrison Stewart (22) during an NCAA college football game in Austin on Sept. 22, 2018. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Cornerbacks

There are seven — sophomores D’Shawn Jamison, Jalen Green, Kobe Boyce and Anthony Cook, junior Donovan Duvernay, and freshmen Kenyatta Watson II and Marques Caldwell

It could be a mix and match of young corners early in the season until the coaches settle on the most consistent players. The four sophomores — Cook, Green, Jamison and Boyce — have all been impressive this spring and summer, and freshman Watson has looked good in August.

Safeties

There are six — senior Brandon Jones, sophomore Caden Sterns, junior Chris Brown, sophomores Montrell Estell and DeMarvion Overshown, and freshman Tyler Owens

Jones and Sterns are the unquestioned leaders of what is the strongest defensive unit. Those two can either play close to the line, blitz or play center field. Estell and Overshown are sophomores with upside and experience, and Owens was a four-star recruit.

Nickel backs

There are three — junior Josh Thompson, sophomore B.J. Foster and freshman Chris Adimora

Foster, a headhunter extraordinaire, could be the breakout player of the year with a full-time move to nickel. He and Thompson will play big roles.

Special teams: Punters

There’s one — sophomore Ryan Bujcevski

Bujcevski, the sophomore from Sydney, averaged 40.3 yards per punt in his first season. He had his ups and downs as a freshman, but then again so did his cousin, Michael Dickson, who showed a big improvement from his first to second year. Texas would certainly take that kind of a jump again.

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