Linebackers Look to Anchor Defense in 2006

With the loss of Vince Young to the NFL and, thus, the tremendous transition that must occur on offense, the Texas coaches are looking to the defense to be the leadership and consistent force on the '06 team. One of the most important parts of that defensive force is the depth and experience at the linebacker position.

"The linebackers have taken it upon ourselves to step up and meet the coaches' challenge of being leaders on and off the field," junior linebacker Robert Killebrew told Inside Texas. "Every one of our linebackers have taken huge strides in becoming better players"

The only starter to leave the linebacking corps is Aaron Harris, and last year's starting weakside linebacker Rashad Bobino is filling his spot in the middle. At the vacated weakside spot is junior Drew Kelson. Kelson is a talent on the field, but had struggled to find his place on this team, playing safety, running back, and finally linebacker for the Longhorns.

"It’s been a long process finding my position," said Kelson. "Seeing myself now and looking back on my old tape… it’s embarrassing to look at."

But now that he’s settled in at linebacker, Kelson is happy with his new position and eager to produce.

"Last year I was playing the Spring Game at safety. This year playing at linebacker is going to be a lot of fun."

Kelson said regardless of position, he’s excited about finally getting back onto the field.

"There’s nothing like playing at DKR and running through that tunnel," Kelson said. "I love it."

Getting back onto the football field is intensely important to Killebrew as well.

"We can play in the parking lot," said Killebrew. "I love to play football. All of us on the defense love to play football or we wouldn't be here. I wish we could keep going but we can't. I hate taking my pads off. I hate it."

Along with an experienced set of starters, linebacker is one of the deepest positions on the team, holding a bevy of talented players that Orangebloods haven’t seen yet.

"Jeremy Campbell, Roddrick Muckelroy are great players who’ve really impressed in spring practice," Kelson said.

Adding to the depth and ability at linebacker is prized true freshman Sergio Kindle, who is in spring practice after graduating early from high school and is already drawing comparisons to former Texas linebacker Derrick Johnson. Two other true freshmen, Dustin Earnest and Jared Norton, will get their opportunity when they arrive in Austin for summer workouts.

[Editor's note: For more on the linebacker situation, see this week's Inside Scoop.

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