Texas LB David Gbenda impressing teammates, himself and even the head coach
When Texas coach Steve Sarkisian says every player has a clean slate, it means a clean slate. David Gbenda is using his to reshape his college career.
The sophomore linebacker from Katy has shown flashes of real athleticism the last two seasons.
In 2019, the previous coaching staff asked him to play running back when depth became an issue. Then last season, he went back to defense and had solid impacts against Oklahoma, Kansas State and Colorado in the Alamo Bowl.
The Texas linebackers corps needs more playmakers, especially now that Juwan Mitchell has transferred out. Gbenda (pronounced bend-a) is ready for all the opportunities this new staff will provide.
“David Gbenda has been terrific. Been very, very impressed with him,” Sarkisian said this week. “He is flying around the football field, playing physical. He’s got a real leader’s mentality.”
Other teammates have noticed, too.
“David’s communication skills are very good,” defensive tackle Keondre Coburn said. “He’s going to be a very exciting player coming up this year. So I’m really excited for him.”
Gbenda has been bubbling below the surface his entire time at Texas. Former coach Tom Herman gave him a shout-out after the 2019 season opener against Louisiana Tech. He ended up just playing the maximum four games to protect a redshirt.
Last season, Gbenda was mostly a special teams performer, but he popped up time and again. He had four tackles against Oklahoma, three tackles and an interception at Kansas State and four stops in the Alamo Bowl.
“Every day I come in with the mindset to work,” Gbenda said after Thursday’s practice. “Really I just work every day and be positive. I understand really where my role was, and I understood my talent. I didn’t want to rush things. I just wanted to develop, so when I got my chance, like everyone, that I’m here and ready to play.”
Insight on QBs: Who better to ask which quarterback is playing better than an offensive lineman? Just don’t tell Sarkisian that Denzel Okafor was giving some insight into the Casey Thompson-Hudson Card battle under center.
“As of now, Casey is right now getting the reps with most of the (first team),” Okafor said. “We see Hudson come in rotating every now and then. But you know, whoever’s ready, I can’t even tell you, but whoever’s ready to ball, they’ve adjusted to the offensive line, the running backs, the receivers and it’s going to look good.”