Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Senior stars look to leave their legacy in Big 12

Lorianne Willett

Just four Longhorns remain from the final two recruiting classes of the 2010s, but none of them have been part of a Texas team that’s eclipsed nine wins.

With one more season left in the Big 12, and no more remaining years of eligibility, sixth-year senior Christian Jones and fifth-year seniors David Gbenda, Jordan Whittington and T’Vondre Sweat have one more shot to do what they do best: play some commanding football.

Jones is the lone player from former head coach Tom Herman’s 2018 recruiting class, having watched his final fellow classmates DeMarvion Overshown, Keondre Coburn and Moro Ojomo depart for the NFL draft last year. Despite not being nationally ranked and entering college as a three star prospect, Jones enters his sixth year as a Longhorn, his fourth starting. 

“He was probably the cleanest performer on the offensive line,” said head coach Steve Sarkisian after Texas’ game against Rice, where the majority of the offensive line struggled. 

Jones has truly proven himself to be an unselfish leader. After spending the end of his sophomore season and the entirety of his junior season as the starting left tackle, the blindside blocker and most important offensive line position, Jones moved back to the right to allow freshman tackle Kelvin Banks to protect sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers blindside. One year later, Jones has watched as his mentee put together an All-Big 12 second-team season that included an Alabama game in which he held future third-overall pick Will Anderson to zero sacks.

On the other side of the ball, Gbenda and Sweat spearhead one of the scariest front sevens in the Big 12. Sweat, who is the lone player in the group to never redshirt, spent his first football Saturday mauling the Rice offensive line and pressuring quarterback JT Daniels for three quarters. Gbenda, on the other hand, led the team in tackles while also recording half a sack and half of a tackle for loss. 

“That defensive line do what they always do,” Gbenda said about Sweat and the D-line. “It’s nothing new to me.”

Gbenda in particular has a lot to prove in 2023. In the current college football climate, a player who hasn’t been able to start even after just two seasons often will transfer to another school to get a better chance. Gbenda, however, stayed loyal to the Longhorns. The senior enters his fifth season with the Longhorns, his first of which as a starter at the linebacker position. 

Alongside him and senior Jaylan Ford in the linebacker lineup is a new face, freshman Anthony Hill Jr., the number one linebacker in the 2023 class. Despite his youth, Hill and Gbenda play alongside each other, with David able to teach what he knows to the young defender.

“(Anthony) and the young (guys) are really great players,” Gbenda said. “Smart, fundamentally sound players. They bring it to the room and that helps all of them grow.”

As the rest of the offense grows in Austin, adding youngsters and proven stars alike, one continuity remains — Jordan Whittington. After a breakout senior season in 2022, Whittington has solidified himself alongside junior star receivers Xavier Worthy and Adonai Mitchell. One of Ewers’s most reliable targets, Whittington scored the first touchdown of the 2023 season for the Longhorns and looks to blow away his singular touchdown from 2022.

Despite being a team that saw 10 true freshmen taking snaps in the season opener, the backbone of the Texas Longhorns and their hopes of success stem from those who have been there and seen it all.

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About the Contributors
Evan Vieth, Senior Sports Reporter
Evan is a junior journalism major and the sports editor for the Texan. He is originally from Washington DC and has covered UT sports for 4 semesters and counting. He has covered the Men's Tennis, Soccer, Baseball and Football teams and had the opportunity to write about the 2023 Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl.
Lorianne Willett, Photo Editor
Lorianne is a Journalism and Global Sustainability junior from San Antonio, Texas. Currently, she is the Photo Editor. In her free time, she enjoys reading and playing tennis.