Let's start of with this, Jordan Burton, Kirk Tucker, and talented redshirt Kevin Henry made "star" linebacker in the Cowboys defense a solid three-deep spot going into fall camp. Henry really emerged in the spring when Burton sat out following postseason surgery and he gained a lot of reps. He was so good that the move of safety Kenneth Edison-McGruder to that position was reversed during the summer, and now Edison-McGruder is playing a "mini-me" to Jordan Sterns at free safety. Those two play alike.
Back to "star" linebacker, which is in good shape, right? Yes, but there is no denying highly touted freshman Calvin Bundage of Edmond Santa Fe.
Defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Glenn Spencer worked hard in recruiting Bundage, and he finally came on board for good on signing day announcing that he was a Cowboy and signing on the dotted line. He had been recruited and offered by the likes of Oregon, Michigan, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Tennessee, TCU, Arkansas, Baylor, Arizona State, and others. Oklahoma doubled back in the final days before signing day and made another big push. This fall camp we have found out why.
Personally, I thought for sure with the depth and the fact that Bundage reported this summer at 6-2, 193 pounds that he was destined for a redshirt, but his play spoke loudly against anything but a game jersey for Bundage on Saturdays this fall. He showed up aggressive and with good instincts.
"You are right, he has no trouble sticking his nose in there and hitting people," Spencer agreed. "He is going to play. He has a lot to learn, but he is aggressive and he is a good tackler and he will see action on defense and likely be on some special teams."
A safety at Edmond Santa Fe, Spencer saw a player that would grow, fill out some, and become perfect for the hybrid "star" linebacker. This summer on training table and with Rob Glass and his staff in the weight room he added a few pounds, but he is also wiry tough and moving down from the safety position closer to the line of scrimmage at the "star" has been comfortable for him.
He had 90 tackles as a senior at safety and playing for the Wolves, he was pretty far back at safety as the last guardian on their defense. His junior season he had 81 tackles. He likes to rush the quarterback and while he doesn't possess blazing speed he has those instincts and has developed good technique in coverage situations.
On top of that his teammates like him, even those competing with him for playing time.
"I like Calvin, he's a freshman, but I like to get on his good side," Henry said. "I've talked to him and got to know him and what kind of person he is."
What kind of player is he? Well, the kind that comes in and makes a strong early impression because he obviously wants to play right away. With the odds against him (because of depth at his position), he's done just that.