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Position Preview: Texas Inside Linebackers Must Take a Big Leap in 2022; Will They?

The inside linebackers were arguably the weakest position group on the Texas roster in 2021, but development in spring and an added transfer could allow the group to improve substantially in 2022.

Senior Demarvion Overshown and junior Luke Brockermeyer saw the majority of the action at the two inside linebacker positions for the Texas Longhorns a season ago. 

Overshown has immense potential, yet he looked and played his position like a safety in 2021. He was often out of position when he had to make a tackle. Brockermeyer, while more built like a linebacker than Overshown, lacked the athleticism needed to move sideline-to-sideline. 

This led to the Texas inside linebackers offering little help on defense, especially in run support.

Next up behind Overshown and Brockermeyer were sophomores Jaylan Ford and David Gbenda. Ford was the bright spot of that whole group and will be a major contributor in 2022.

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The Longhorns entered spring with five healthy inside linebackers including Ford, Gbenda, Devin Richardson, Jett Bush, and most notably, Demarvion Overshown, who was healthy for his first spring as a Longhorn. However, this unit lacks depth. Luke Brockermeyer was absent for spring due to a torn ACL he suffered in late November.

With Brockermeyer out, Jaylan Ford manned the inside linebacker position opposite Demarvion Overshown. Ford and Overshown both had strong springs. Their development was well documented in spring practice reports. This is a testament to what Jeff Choate, Texas inside linebackers coach, can do when he has enough time to work with his players.

Steve Sarkisian spoke on Jaylan Ford’s development this spring in a recent press conference.

“It was never about the ability,” Sarkisian said. “It was about the consistency to mentally to go for it every day. And I think that he really embraced the opportunity that was presented to him. He’s a big, physical guy who can run. He's a good tackler and I thought that he kind of took a step this spring to being that inside linebacker and being comfortable and being a good run stopper. We saw multiple times in the run game where he was extremely physical.”

Overshown finally looks and is playing as a linebacker should. He put on "good" weight this offseason. His athleticism and newfound build allowed him to make almost every play on the field in spring scrimmages, according to reports. If Overshown can stay healthy, he could be a star for the Texas defense as he looks to have a statement season ahead of the 2023 NFL draft.

Sarkisian spoke well of the remaining group.

“I think David Gbenda is a versatile guy,” Sarkisian said. “I think Devin Richardson is a very smart guy. And I think Jett Bush, we've really committed him to (middle linebacker) and not trying to juggle him back and forth from edge. And I think his commitment there has shown up, he's a really good player against the run.”

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Sarkisian believes he has good front-end talent with Overshown and Ford, but the depth behind them is unproven at best. The Texas coaching staff has been after linebacker help in the transfer portal all offseason. 

After multiple misses in the portal, they finally found their answer in FCS All-American linebacker Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey from James Madison. Tucker-Dosey had a very productive career as a JMU Duke. As a senior in 2021, he amassed a team-high 116 tackles, 9 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, and four interceptions.

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Tucker-Dorsey spoke with Sports Illustrated on his decision to transfer to Texas.

“The biggest part of the decision is trying to get to that next level by playing on a bigger stage,” Tucker-Dorsey said. “They’ve got a really good schedule this year. It’s the Big 12, and Texas is a football state so it really doesn’t get too much bigger.”

“The facilities stood out to me the most. It’s big-time football; that’s what I dreamed of and that’s what I wanted coming out of high school. That and the big, huge stadium with 100,000 [fans] in the atmosphere—it felt real. It’s what I’ve been missing out on.”

Tucker-Dorsey wants to be a plug-and-play addition to the Texas inside linebacker room. He believes he is good enough to not just be a depth piece on the Texas roster. He will have the opportunity to compete with Jaylan Ford for a starting role this fall.

The development of Overshown and Ford combined with the addition of Tucker-Dorsey should allow for the Longhorns to field a much improved inside linebacker room when they host UL-Monroe on September 3rd.


You can follow Michael Gresser on Twitter @gresser_michael

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