The revolving door at linebacker continues for Texas this week.
Tevin Jackson is set to make his first career start for the Longhorns on Saturday, when No. 23 UT (8-3, 5-3 Big 12) visits No. 7 Kansas State (10-1, 7-1) for the regular season finale. The sophomore will be the seventh different starting linebacker for Texas this season.
Jackson began the year backing up Demarco Cobbs at strong side linebacker. Cobbs suffered a season-ending knee injury on Thanksgiving in a 20-13 loss to TCU, which opened the door for Jackson to start this week. The Garland High School product is tied for the team lead with eight tackles on special teams. But Jackson will now be tasked with stopping a potent Kansas State rushing attack.
"Things change and all of a sudden here you are playing massive [numbers of] snaps against really good teams," defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. "We sort of worked him into our third down packages to give him something to do midway through the year and he's made some plays doing that. But now he has to be a dependable guy to play every down on defense."
Jackson responded well to increased playing time against TCU after Cobbs was carted off the field with 11:08 remaining in the second quarter. Jackson finished the game with four tackles (three solo) and two tackles for loss.
"When he's had his chances, he's made plays," strong safety Adrian Phillips said. "He's going to get more chances now, so he has to step up more."
Steve Edmond is the only linebacker to start all 11 games. The sophomore leads Texas with 92 tackles. Junior Jordan Hicks was expected to carry the group, but he suffered a season-ending hip injury at Mississippi on Sept. 15 and was limited to only three games. Sophomore Kendall Thompson has made six starts since, and freshmen Peter Jinkens and Dalton Santos each have a start.
Jackson has a nose for the ball and recovered two fumbles on special teams in 12 games last season. But Saturday's contest will be his biggest challenge yet. Still, the Longhorns trust he can fill the void.
"Tevin is going to be a great player," cornerback Quandre Diggs said. "He's making a lot of strides. He just has to continue to grow and learn concepts. He's going to be angry on the field all the time. We've just got to continue to keep him in the film room and get him right. He can be a great contributor to this defense."
By Austin Laymance/Special to the Star-Telegram