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

Texas defense is in good hands with Pete Kwiatkowski


When Texas took down the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide, the Longhorns got their well-deserved love on social media. Whether it be an ESPN post or hundreds of tweets circulating on X, it can be argued that no sports team was talked about more that night than the Texas Longhorns. But one narrative circled around discussions more than the iconic “Texas is back.”

Alabama lost the game because of quarterback Jalen Milroe, not because Texas was better on that side of the ball.

But sometimes the fans online don’t think about the why of the situation, with the why being the Texas defensive line and the mind behind it.

Outside of Steve Sarkisian, no man has had more of an impact on Texas’ newfound success than defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski. Kwiatkowski has been a part of Sarkisian’s staff since its inception at Texas, and his impact should be the biggest talking point of the season.

Kwiatkowski is one of the best recruiters in the country, as highlighted by Texas having a top five class in both of the last two seasons as well as recruiting top edge rusher Colin Simmons for the 2024 season. 

Five of the team’s eleven starters predate Kwiatkowski at Texas, and though their play has been decisive in Texas’ success, it’s what Kwiatkowski has done with the other six that has turned Texas into one of the best defenses currently in the Big 12.

Few players shined more than the duo of sophomore edge rusher Ethan Burke and freshman linebacker Anthony Hill Jr. Each one exemplifies two of the biggest strengths in Kwiatkowski’s game: recruiting and development. Hill’s impact is expected, but not so early. 

Hill was the top rated linebacker in the 2023 class according to 247sports and has made swift improvement in just two games, already looking like one of the most promising freshmen in the country. Hill isn’t in Austin if not for Pete Kwiatkowski, someone who has loved Hill’s skill since day one.

“Anthony Hill obviously is a really good linebacker. He’s still a kid, but if you’ve watched him, he’s fast and physical. He loves football,” Kwiatkowski told FanSided eight months ago, long before Hill took over Tuscaloosa.

On the other side of the coin, Burke has turned into a star, mostly from the unknown. Two tackles for loss, a sack against Alabama, all from a three-star with 37 pass rushers ranked ahead of him just two years ago. Burke is where he’s at because of Kwiatkowski, mostly because Burke was set to be a Michigan Wolverine until December of 2021. That same day, Kwiatkowski got a signing by the player from Westlake. 

Burke headlines a defensive line with only three stars on it, a testament to Kwiatkowski’s development. The two highest graded defensive linemen in the Big 12 this season are three-stars Byron Murphy and T’Vondre Sweat, according to PFF. Last year’s Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Jaylan Ford may not have been recruited by Kwiatkowski, but the top linebacker in the country wasn’t what he was before Kwiatkowski.

The biggest concern for any team heading from the Big 12 to the SEC is how will the team adapt to match the intensity of the SEC, but for Texas, Pete Kwiatkowski might just hold all the answers.

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About the Contributor
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.