Five Guys to Watch – Defense

Spring ball is a time for a lot of new faces to shine. With eight true freshmen already on campus (six on the defensive side) and quite a few holes to fill due to graduation, there will be a lot of jockeying for playing time on what should be a national contender. Burnt Orange Beat takes a look at the five guys on defense with the best chance to push for playing time or a starting spot.

The Texas Longhorn defense has a lot more holes to fill this offseason than their offensive counterparts. The stop force loses four of its top five linemen (Orakpo, Miller, Lewis, and Melton), middle linebacker Rashad Bobino (44 starts), and the old man of the secondary, Ryan Palmer (23 starts). The defense did get a boost when OLB/DE Sergio Kindle elected to return for his senior season. This will also be the first offseason when the defensive coordinator is not new to the job since the 2006 season.

Alex Okafor - With the loss of both starting defensive ends including the Nagurski, Hendricks, and Lombardi winner and no proven back-ups, Okafor has a chance to let his five stars shine. Alex Okafor is already enrolled in Austin and possesses a quickly developing frame that will be Big 12 ready buy summers end. The Pflugerville standout has already garnered rave reviews in the weight room in his first six weeks as a collegiate.

Aaron Williams - It seemed like every time Aaron Williams was on the field last season something good happened whether it was a blocked punt (he had 4), a fumble, or an interception. And for a defense that mustered a very paltry 16 turnovers in 13 games, Williams' playmaking ability has a chance to force Coach Muschamp's hand into more playing time and a potential starting role. Ryan Palmer's spot is clearly available for someone to take and Williams might be that guy. Williams could earn a starting spot at corner as well if he gets the reps.

Kheeston Randall - With two of the top three defensive tackles gone off of last year's squad, the 6-5 Beaumont Kelly star will almost certainly be in the rotation by default. Randall has a chance to earn a starting nod too if he can keep his pad level low enough to suit Coach Mike Tolleson. Randall logged a little bit of time as a true freshman last season in mostly mop-up duty. Randall is up to around 285-pounds and has now had ample time to adjust from private school ball to the Big 12. Randall is a player that has a lot of future potential.

Keenan Robinson - Robinson looks like the heir apparent to Sergio Kindle's buck linebacker position since Kindle is sliding over into a fulltime defensive end role. The rangy 6-3, 225 linebacker showed flashes last season of his potential both on special teams and in spot duty at linebacker. This will be Robinson's third season in the program and he has every opportunity to be a star in Muschamp's defense.

Christian Scott - Scott, like Robinson, is in his third year in the program after a redshirt in 2007 and appearing in every game last season on both special teams and defense. Scott stepped in at Kansas after an injury forced starter Blake Gideon out of the line-up and played very well logging three tackles, three pass break-ups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in about a half's worth of work. Scott's ability to force turnovers may be key to his playing time.

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