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Eyes on Texas: Luke Brockermeyer’s story of football survival is a lesson for all recruits

From walk-on to starter, ‘I always wanted to be here, wanted to stick it out even though at times it wasn’t looking great at some points’

This is an all-points bulletin for anyone thinking about playing major college football, regardless of your size, strength, position or lot in life.

Learn about Luke Brockermeyer.

And in a moment of solitude, ask yourself this: Do you really want to play major college football? Seriously, do you really want this?

Let’s start with the basics. Brockermeyer was born in Fort Worth and grew up wanting to play for Texas. A true orangeblood. He always went to the Oklahoma game and three or four home games every year, by his own estimates. Brockermeyer would’ve killed to wear burnt orange.

“My grandpa played here, my dad played here, my mom went here, my grandparents went here as well,” Brockermeyer said. “And, you know, just a huge fan growing up.”

The only problem is that he’s built like a salesman — 6-3, 225. Great beard, square jaw. That helps close deals, not so much for closing on ball carriers.

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Texas linebacker Luke Brockermeyer celebrates after a defensive stop against Louisiana in the Longhorns' 38-18 win last week. Brockermeyer, a former walk-on, finished second on the team in tackles.

Brockermeyer played at Fort Worth All Saints, a private school, where he had 82 tackles as a senior. Not bad, even good enough for a three-star recruiting ranking. That’s something of a default setting with the recruiting services. He committed to Rice and was offered a scholarship at Oregon State, but Brockermeyer chose to walk on at Texas, his dream school.

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Now, oddsmakers would tell you that’s where Brockermeyer’s story ends. Walk-ons run through the smoke, wave the towels, take all the practice punishment, never get the glory. 

Brockermeyer didn’t play as a freshman in 2018 but got some special teams action early in 2019. The former coaching staff liked his hustle but liked his younger twin brothers’ recruiting potential even more. So Luke was put on scholarship in late September 2019, though he never saw any more game action that season. Funny how that works, huh?

Texas linebacker Luke Brockermeyer carries the U.S. flag as the team runs onto the field at Royal-Memorial Stadium for their 2019 game against Kansas. Two years later, Brockermeyer has moved from a walk-on special teams performer to starting linebacker for the Longhorns.

He hung around as a sophomore in 2020 even though his brothers, Tommy and James Brockermeyer, spurned UT for Alabama. They’re both considered long-term pieces of the Crimson Tide’s future on the offensive line.

Luke? He played in five games, mostly on special teams.

“He was dead-set on staying at Texas and making his mark there,” Luke’s father, former UT lineman Blake Brockermeyer, said. “You’ve got to remember, his ultimate goal wasn’t to run down on kickoffs and play on special teams. But last year, that was one of the happiest moments of his life, just to wear the Texas uniform and actually go on the field and do something.”

Then in January, a new coaching staff arrived. Now, when new coaches get hired, they’ll say “everyone has a clean slate.” But it’s important to understand that’s just coach-speak. Usually, it’s meaningless. Gobbledygook.

Not with Steve Sarkisian and his staff, it appears.

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Brockermeyer went to work during the spring and just kept making plays. Maybe it helped that Texas was thin at linebacker; the depth chart numbers worked in his favor. But who cares? Here’s someone who saw the slightest opening and went charging in.

Texas linebacker Luke Brockermeyer tackles Louisiana running back Emani Bailey during the first half of last Saturday's 38-18 win. Brockermeyer finished with 10 tackles, which was second on the team.

“Luke and I came in together, and I would always think how is that guy not a scholarship guy,” fellow linebacker DeMarvion Overshown said. “The way he worked, the way he practiced when he was running with the scout team, you couldn’t tell if he was a walk-on or not. The way that he’s worked since he’s been here has been amazing. You can’t look at his film right now and tell he was a walk-on.”

Brockermeyer got a shot with the first-time defense in the spring and refused to give it up.

“When he left spring football, he was told this is your job to lose,” Blake Brockermeyer said. “The coaches said, ‘We’re going to bring in some guys to beat you out.’ But that’s just the way college football is.”

Blake Brockermeyer would know. Not only is he in the Texas Men’s Hall of Honor, but he also played nine years in the NFL. He’s one of the best offensive tackles in UT history.

Texas linebacker Luke Brockermeyer was second on the team in tackles against Louisiana. “When he left spring football, he was told this is your job to lose,” said his father, Blake Brockermeyer. “The coaches said, ‘We’re going to bring in some guys to beat you out.’ But that’s just the way college football is.”

“You’re always trying to not get replaced. You’re always competing,” Blake Brockermeyer said. “The second you feel like you’ve made it, it’s over for you. The coaches are right now recruiting players they are hoping can take your job. 

“With the transfer portal, it’s even harder,” he added. “The second you think you have a legit chance to play, that’s when they bring in the backup guy from Alabama or Georgia or LSU. You’ve moved from first string to second string or maybe even third string.”

Luke Brockermeyer spent the summer in the weight room. When training camp began, he picked up where he’d left off. He was still with the first-team defense in mid-August and started at middle linebacker against Louisiana.

Sarkisian couldn’t be happier. “Awesome story, first of all,” the first-year coach said. “In the end, everything he’s done here with us, he’s earned.”

Could Brockermeyer have jumped in the transfer portal and gone elsewhere? You know, fresh start, new coaches, go somewhere he’s appreciated, blah, blah, blah. Sure. He’s darn glad he didn’t.

Luke Brockermeyer spent his first three years at Texas toiling on special teams but made a jump to first-team linebacker this spring and held onto the starting spot into the season. "As the (Louisiana) game got going, you could tell he got more and more relaxed and got comfortable," fellow linebacker DeMarvion Overshown said.

“It was 100% a clean slate in my opinion,” Brockermeyer said. “I like to think I have a high football IQ and, you know, I'm confident out there. I know what I'm doing, and I think that that played a big role in it.”

Overshown, known as Agent Zero, was everywhere in the opener. That was expected. He had a team-high 13 tackles. Brockermeyer was all over the place, too. He had 10 tackles, obviously a career high, 1.5 tackles for loss and he split a sack with guy who fancies himself “The Arm Bandit.”

“As the game got going, you could tell he got more and more relaxed and got comfortable,” Overshown said.

Said Brockermeyer: “Couple teammates call me The Machine. But I don’t know if that’s …” 

Marketable? Eh, we’ll see. “Give me anything, I’ll take it,” he said.

Brockermeyer will be out there with Overshown again Saturday as No. 15 Texas (1-0) faces Arkansas (1-0). 

“I always wanted to be here, wanted to stick it out even though at times it wasn’t looking great at some points,” Brockermeyer said. “But at the end of the day, I’m glad I stayed for sure.”

Playing linebacker is way better than being on the Texas kickoff team. “I told (Cameron) Dicker all you do is kick the damn ball out of bounds anyway,” Blake Brockermeyer said.

Luke would be happy to run downfield for the touchback, if that was required. Chasing running backs is better.

Just how bad do you want to play major college football? In Brockermeyer’s case, pretty damn bad, apparently.

“I definitely wasn’t ready early in my career to be where I am now,” he said, “but just a lot of hard work and perseverance.”

Contact Brian Davis by phone or text at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com or @BDavisAAS.