Emerging Players: Defense

Which players are using the spring as a springboard to more playing time in the fall? We take a look at the emerging players on defense.

1) Steve Edmond

You can't ask anyone about the football program without feeling the tangible excitement related to the play of Edmond, Texas's 260-plus pound middle linebacker. Edmond is an elite physical talent, one of those players who can really run despite his plus size. In fact, he may remind a lot of people of the recent Alabama linebackers that tip the scales at more than 260. It speaks volumes that Edmond is just a sophomore, and one who didn't see the field a ton as a freshman, yet the coaches don't seem the least bit worried about his transition to the big stage.

2) Josh Turner

The Texas defense is supposed to force three turnovers per practice, and at one of the pre-Spring Break practices, Turner hit that mark all by himself, hauling in three interceptions. But the player who joined the Longhorns as a smooth cover corner also displayed a surprising trait: the ability to hit. Texas defensive backs coach Duane Akina likes to rotate his DBs between cornerback and safety, and arguably no player this spring showed a blend of his talents as Turner did in showcasing some ability at safety.

3) Reggie Wilson

In the next year or so, somebody will come up with a look back at Wilson's recruiting class and label Wilson as a bust. But as a five star sitting behind fellow five-star (and higher rated recruit) Jackson Jeffcoat, is he really? With Jeffcoat sitting out this spring, Wilson has made the most of his opportunity, showcasing the pass-rush ability that made him a five-star prospect in the first place. He probably won't start when Jeffcoat returns, but at least Wilson has made a case to be included more as a rotational player.

4) Mykkele Thompson

The injury absence of Adrian Phillips and the graduation of Blake Gideon and Christian Scott opened up plenty of repetitions at safety. That has allowed players like Turner and Thompson — who practiced with the first team at the two open practices — to get plenty of time on the practice field. Thompson has big-time speed at safety, but he's also earned rave reviews for his work ethic and his ability to learn quickly.

5) Orlando Thomas

Speaking of learning quickly, Thomas wins the Quandre Diggs award as the fastest defensive learner in his first spring on campus. Thomas's situation parallels Diggs's in that his natural ability at the position shone through so quickly. Thomas didn't even play cornerback as a senior. But he has nice size, outstanding speed, hips and feet. And now that Diggs will miss the spring game with an injury, Thomas has a legitimate shot to earn the first-team repetitions opposite Carrington Byndom.

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