Most Important Texas Players

We're counting down the most important Texas players for a successful 2011. Head-hunting safety Kenny Vaccaro comes in at No. 3.

3) Kenny Vaccaro, safety

If Vaccaro's to be believed, he would rather eschew his well-earned reputation as a mashing hitter for one as a balanced player. And so his craziness has, according to defensive end Alex Okafor, become "controlled craziness", a sign that the safety has matured.

But while Vaccaro has largely been defined to this point by his hitting ability, he's arguably the most important player in the Texas secondary because he's a versatile player. In four-defensive-back situations, he's playing safety. In nickel, he moves down to nickel back because of his ability to do it all. Not only is he arguably the most physical player on the team, but fellow safety Blake Gideon says he's also the team's best man-cover guy.

That trait could come in handy as the Longhorns' nickel back when they go up against some of the elite slot receivers in the Big 12. And his ability to play the run will certainly be an asset with Texas trying to improve in that category from a year ago.

Gideon has shown that he can be a strong player when paired with an elite safety. And that's precisely what the Longhorns feel they have in Vaccaro, a multitalented 6-foot-1, 214-pound wrecking ball who will be counted on not only in that position, but also as someone to help ride herd over a young group of cornerbacks.


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