Senior Defenders are Quiet Leaders

The Texas Longhorns enter the 2009 season with extremely high expectations as they were recently voted #2 in the preseason coaches' poll. The defense has the unenviable task of replacing some very experienced defenders up front and their leadership void. The four senior starters on defense are still gaining their voice and their role as leaders.

Last season's defense was clearly led by senior defensive tackle Roy Miller, now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, and senior All-American and Nagurski winner Brian Orakpo, now a multimillionaire with the Washington Redskins.

That team knew if anyone stepped out of line, "Rak" and Roy would be there to make sure they got back on track. Those two, in addition to their leadership roles, also combined for 91 tackles, 17 sacks, 30 tackles for loss, and 58 quarterback pressures. This season's defense is still looking to fill that leadership void and that production.

The 2009 defense will still be led by fiery and boisterous defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, but ironically enough, its four senior starters are all on the quiet side. The four senior starters are Lamarr Houston, Sergio Kindle, Roddrick Muckelroy, and Jared Norton. Norton has been slowed by an injury this summer.

Sergio Kindle, the most well known senior defender and likely the highest drafted Longhorn senior defender in the 2010 NFL Draft, is still gaining his voice as a leader.

"I have to develop a leadership style, but I'm not too much of a ‘talker,' I'm a ‘doer.' I will lead by example and not too much vocally," Kindle said on Friday before camp started.

Senior linebacker Roddrick Muckleroy led the team with 112 stops as a junior, but is a quiet guy by nature as well. No one questions his ability to make plays, but can he be a vocal leader? Senior wide out Jordan Shipley offered his perspective on the team's leading tackler.

"He just always seems to make a play…whatever it is, he's got it. He's definitely one of our most intense players. He doesn't say a lot I don't think when he's out there, but he plays as hard as anyone," Shipley said. "He's pretty quiet."

Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp also has a lot of good things to say about Muckelroy and the attitude that he brings to the defense.

"He's got a tremendous work ethic. He's got the lunch pail attitude. He's a tough kid. Football is very important to him. He takes notes in the meetings. He asks questions. He asks the right questions. He watches film the right way. And he does it every single day," Muschamp said of his tackle leader.

Although Muckelroy is admittedly quiet, he thinks he has learned quite a bit along the way while in Austin.

"I just realized I am the oldest linebacker in the room. I've been around for a long time. I think I've been around a long enough time to see a lot of leaders come through and I know the things I need to do to get people to head in the right direction," Muckelroy said.

Colorado native and fifth-year defensive tackle Lamarr Houston is without question the most likely to step up as the on-field vocal leader. He is after all just nine hours away from a Corporate Communications degree with an eye on Jim Rome's job eventually.

"We're expecting a big year out of him and he is expecting one out of himself," Muschamp said of Houston.

Houston is also embracing the challenge of replacing the defensive production of a year ago.

"I think we will do pretty good. (Last season), it was something that we needed to prove once again because they said our defense wasn't going to be any good, so we had to step up to the plate and exceed expectations," Houston commented.

All of the defenders are ready to prove that they are capable of being a top defense due to their faith in the man calling the defensive signals.

"He's intense, very intense," Houston said of defensive signal caller Will Muschamp.

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