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Bohls: Overshown, Texas' Agent Zero, has backed up his hype in Horns' biggest games

  • DeMarvion Overshown sat out spring drills and has been brought along slowly after shoulder surgery.
  • Head coach Steve Sarkisian raves about the senior linebacker who's bigger and super fast.
  • Overshown could well become only the fourth consensus All-America linebacker in school history.

In truth, Steve Sarkisian has barely had a glimpse of DeMarvion Overshown.

Other than game tape from last season and only two weeks of fall camp, the new Texas head football coach has never even seen Overshown play a down of college football live.

But Sarkisian has seen enough.

Enough to know he wants to see more. A whole lot more.

So does the rest of Longhorn Nation.

So even though Overshown has played only one season at linebacker after initially reluctantly shifting from safety, and even though March surgery to repair a torn labrum sidelined him all spring, and even though this team didn’t even put on the real pads until Thursday of last week to give his new coach a sneak peek at him in action, he has gotten a total endorsement from Sarkisian.

Texas linebacker DeMarvion Overshown produced a solid first season in his new position and could blossom into an All-American. He's now one of the faces of the defense and is very active on the NIL front, too.

Does he look like a bona fide impact player?

“He really does,” Sarkisian said recently. “You know, you don't know what you don't have to tell you actually have it and I didn't know what we had in him.”

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But he thinks he knows now, and he senses he has a legitimate stud in the 6-foot-4, 223-pound Overshown, who’s added 15 pounds of muscle without any drop-off in his speed, and he’d be right. 

“He really looks the part,” Sarkisian said. “But the one thing you sometimes don’t appreciate about him until we get into seven-on-seven is just actually how fast he really is. He can really run. He’s got tremendous instincts, and I think that helps.”

Overshown could very well be the next All-American linebacker at Texas, a place that has had as many ordinary players as over-the-top ones. They haven’t all been Tommy Nobis (1965) or Jeff Leiding (1983) or Derrick Johnson (2003-04), the only three consensus All-Americans out of the 14 who have received that honor.

Linebacking success for Texas has been hit and miss for a while. Other than Joseph Ossai, who made the Football Writers Association of America’s All-America team, Texas hasn’t had the luxury of outstanding play at the position lately, just decent play because a number of talented players like D.D. Lewis and the oft-injured Jordan Hicks had only moments of stardom here before becoming regulars in the NFL.

DeMarvion Overshown takes a water break during Wednesday's open practice at Royal-Memorial Stadium. He and defensive tackle Keondre Coburn are key parts of this year's defense.

Malik Jefferson once was the prize gem of a recruiting class but was underutilized off the line as a middle linebacker instead of a rush linebacker who could chase down quarterbacks and bring a strong pass rush. He made All-Big 12 in 2017 but was never the standout he was expected to be.

Not since Derrick Johnson was a fumble-causing machine as an All-American in 2002-04 has Texas developed a true stud at that position. That, of course, is a role this new staff envisions for Overshown because defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski is all about causing turnovers, punching out balls like only Johnson has done and creating havoc.

The past 20 years at the position, however, have been a decidedly mixed bag. In truth, the DJs have been few and far between.

Overshown might change all that because he’s freakishly athletic, a blur at the position, a player with football smarts and a deep hunger to be great. He’s a small-town kid with big-time goals. He wears the number 0 on his jersey and goes by Agent Zero, but there’s nothing he can’t do on the field.

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“We've been bringing him along slowly because of his shoulder,” Kwiatkowski said, “so when he finally got out there the other day,  the guy's like super fast and super explosive. You can tell by the way he plays, he loves football. He likes contact, And he's a very dynamic, explosive guy.”

And forget the seven armbands he regularly wears — his signature dress code — or at least just ignore it as nothing more than the playfulness of a fashion-conscious young man. He’s as motivated to be great and as eager to excel as any Longhorns player. 

Linebacker DeMarvion Overshown, left, and lineman Moro Ojomo should be two big difference-makers on the Longhorns' defense this season. They're most likely to fill the role of former UT edge rusher Joseph Ossai.

During the height of the turmoil over social justice and the turmoil over what many considered racial underpinnings of “The Eyes of Texas,” Overshown stood out as one of the more outspoken players demanding change. He even penned a poem about it.

That speaks to the serious nature of this senior from tiny Arp, in East Texas. He wants to make an impact on and off the field and has maybe been the most active player benefiting from the new name, image and likeness rules that allow them to profit.

Overshown, along with irrepressibly upbeat defensive lineman Keondre Coburn, is arguably the face of this Longhorns defense.

“Last year I just didn’t get a chance to learn the position,” Overshown said recently. “What people saw last year isn’t even close to what they’re going to see this year.”

Overshown was good enough to play as a freshman in the Sugar Bowl and had enough game at the end of his first season at linebacker that he became the defensive MVP in Texas’ throttling of Colorado in last year’s Alamo Bowl, finishing with six tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception, one of his team-high two.

Of course, he has always saved his best work for the biggest games.

Against Oklahoma, he amassed 11 tackles and a pick. Versus Iowa State, he had eight stops, one tackle for a loss and a pass breakup. Then there was the Alamo Bowl.

He’s made for the big stage.

Story continues below.

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“Coach Kwit keeps us moving around,” Overshown said. “He knows the exact spots to put us in. He puts us in great position to make plays."

Overall, Overshown had 60 tackles, eight of them for losses, plus a sack and a team-high seven passes broken up. That last stat is a striking number for a linebacker. Don’t be surprised if he comes up with seven or eight sacks this season.

On his current pace, Overshown could well emerge as one of the best defensive players in the Big 12 and might even be on track to replace Ossai as the premier rusher on this year’s roster after Jacoby Jones or Moro Ojomo. He knows how to finish. His impact should be seen nearly everywhere because of his speed and explosiveness.

This staff will use him in multiple roles, even on special teams.

“DeMarvion is obviously a really good defensive player,” special teams coach Jeff Banks said Wednesday. “He's probably going to be starting on defense a lot, or playing a ton of snaps. So we only want to probably put him on two special teams. So I'm going to say what are the two most important ones for him and for this team because he's at an impact position.”

He’s likely to be the most disruptive force on the defense at a position that’s had a makeover with the transfer of Juwan Mitchell to USC and the addition of linebackers from Alabama (Ben Davis), Notre Dame (Ovie Oghoufo) and New Mexico State (Devin Richardson) plus an influx from the high school ranks along with returners David Gbenda, Jaylan Ford and Ayodele Adeoye.

While initially undersized for a linebacker, Overshown has transformed his body but remains one of the faster players on the team, especially on a defense with speedy cornerback D’Shawn Jamison. He has tremendous range on the field and is expanding his repertoire at a position riddled with question marks.

Overshown burst on the scene quickly in his first year at the foreign position and has been turning heads a lot since the second half of the season. The best is yet to come.

“Because of his background at safety, he identifies things really well,” Sarkisian said. "And then obviously there's a level of physicality there, and that that shows up, so we're fortunate to have him. He's a really good football player. I’m glad he's back out here with us.”

He's waiting until he sees much more.