Linebackers provide Longhorns promise for 2013 season


Elisabeth Dillon

Freshman linebacker Peter Jinkens made his first collegiate start against Iowa State and made six tackles in the Longhorns' 33-17 win over the Cyclones.

Christian Corona

For a guy who was in high school this time last year, Peter Jinkens spent a lot of time in the Kansas State backfield over the weekend.

And he should be spending plenty of time as a starting linebacker as part of a unit that could lead a resurgent Longhorns defense in 2013.

He starred at Dallas Skyline, where junior wide receiver Mike Davis also went to high school, before signing with Texas this February. Now, with Jordan Hicks missing the last nine regular season games with a hip injury, Jinkens is seeing significant playing time and making the most of it.

“He is a very emotional player,” head coach Mack Brown said of Jinkens on Signing Day this year. “He is really fast. He could even play some nickel, outside backer. Great blitzer. Loves to play the game. Very bright young man. Really good in space.”

A day after tweeting “guess who’s starting tomorrow … ”, Jinkens made six tackles in his first career start during the Longhorns’ 33-7 win over Iowa State. He made four more stops in a 20-13 loss to TCU before making his presence early in Texas’ regular season finale in Manhattan against Kansas State.

On the Wildcats’ first possession, they had a five-yard run by tailback John Hubert and a four-yard run between the tackles by quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein. That set up a 3rd-and-1. Klein handed off to 6-foot-4, 256-pound fullback Braden Wilson. Jenkins met him behind the line of scrimmage, forcing Kansas State to go three-and-out on its opening drive.

Jinkens made five tackles, one of them a sack of Klein, in the 42-24 defeat. At 8-4, Texas has a lot of work to do before trying to bounce back next year. And Jinkens has proven that he can be a piece of a championship puzzle.

Sophomore Tevin Jackson, like Jenkins, began this season as a backup linebacker before cracking the starting lineup. Juniors Demarco Cobbs and Hicks, along with sophomore Steve Edmond, started at linebacker in Texas’ season opener this year. Because of injury, only Edmond starts now.

Jackson has made 23 tackles this year, seven, including a sack, in his last two games.

“Tevin can make a play,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “That’s kind of what’s shown up over the last couple weeks. He’s been able to make some big plays, sacks, tackles for losses. We’re at a point [where] we’re experiencing injuries throughout the year [and] don’t have a lot of linebackers. We have to have a role for everybody.”

Hicks hasn’t played since September and won’t play again until next August. Depending on whether he’s granted a medical redshirt, he could still have two years of eligibility left. Regardless, he’ll be leading a vastly improved group of linebackers next year and be one of the most experienced members of a defense that will be trying to redeem itself from, statistically, one of its worst years in program history.

The future is bright for Texas linebackers.

Printed on Friday, December 7, 2012 as: Bright future ahead for linebackers