Evaluating The 2012 Texas Longhorns Recruiting Class: Linebacker

Three of our LBs were in the fold before Diaz found his recruiting legs and we added Santos late despite having a "full" class. That speaks to how good Santos is, but also to the fact that Diaz wanted to add a difference maker at the position.

Tim Cole


Tim Cole is a linebacker pure enough to make you ask: Do you believe the film or the stopwatch?

The film shows that Cole is an extremely instinctive linebacker with a nose for the ball and a great ability to work through traffic. He closes well in space with bad intentions, plays downhill, and though he's not a big LB, he's a natural striker with good ankle, knee, and hip flexion who brings it when he gets there. He moves well laterally and is fearless taking on blockers and ball carriers. He's a technical LBing clinic with great football IQ.

Except the stopwatch says that Cole is slow. 5.0 40 slow, according to one camp timing. Too slow to be a starter on an elite defense. Too slow to play for Texas. How can he possibly handle a good RB in the flat, a TE downfield, a dual threat QB scrambling? Sight unseen, I'd exclude him on his 40 time alone. Except that I saw his film.

Cole will improve athletically. The 40 and vertical leap are useful guidelines for athletic prowess, but not determinative given that simple coaching from a combine guru can drop a 40 by .2 and add 5 inches to a vertical. And football is most often played over ten yards, not forty. Cole's potential upside is Roddrick Muckelroy. His "downside" is a great young man who contributes on special teams and as a quality backup at MLB and SLB. That's a ceiling and floor I'm comfortable with.

Alex De La Torre


An extremely productive player for a good Denton Ryan defense. DLT is undersized at 6-0, 215, runs OK, and is a sure tackler. He's blessed with good instincts and he has sneaky knack for sliding through, under, and around blocks - a skill he uses to surprisingly good effect as a blitzer in Ryan's 3-4 schemes. He gets ball carriers down, but their heads aren't ringing when they get there. Unless he experiences a major Clay Matthews III chemical physical transformation in college, DLT will provide career depth at LB or FB.

Peter Jinkens

If it were 1988, Peter Jinkens would be playing for The U, jersey tucked up into his pads flashing abs, dark visor on his helmet, watching Bennie Blades pull bazookas on night club owners. Fortunately, it's 2012 and the latest graduate of the Skyline pipeline is a Longhorn.


Jinkens is athletic enough to be a quality high school RB, but he shines on defense. Peter covers the entire field of play and attacks opposing skill players like they stole something from him. He's both fast and quick and doesn't take plays off. The sort of lightning rod a defense feeds off of. He's a turnover creating machine that excels as a blitzer and in coverage - athletic enough to man up on RBs and zone WRs. If Jinkens has a catch, it's that he goes 6-0, 200 and that limits his use to WLB or big nickel. Although his specs may say safety, his strengths are more pronounced the closer he gets to the LOS. Jinkens will probably play his college ball around 215 and given his athleticism, intensity, and the strong likelihood that he'll be flanked by a 260 MLB, that should be just fine. However, his role may be limited or curbed when Texas faces power running opponents.

He'll contribute right away on special teams coverage.

Dalton Santos

One of my favorite recruits from the class and an important late get. Lines in the hair, don't-give-a-damn stare. Santos brings attitude and conveys the general sense that he'd be happy to meet you in the parking lot after the game if the on field action wasn't enough for you. Taking Santos on the heels of Edmond foreshadows what Diaz wants to do on defense - installing more odd fronts and/or running our defense out of a base nickel with one speed LB for blitzing and coverage and one giant LB for destroying the run between the tackles. Guess which one Santos is?


Dalton currently goes 6-2, 250+, runs a sub 4.7 40, and covers a lot of ground for such a big kid. The lazy comparisons between Santos and a succession of other white LBs who bear no resemblance to him is par for the internet course. Those worried about his level of competition were reassured by a head-turning Under Armour week of practice and game.

In his senior film, you can see Santos has a tendency to run high and turn his shoulders to the sideline instead of get a good knee bend and shuffle laterally, but adaptation and evolution are wonderful things - you don't see him doing it much in the Under Armour game. As a general rule - and this goes with the universal "he plays too high" evaluations of 80% of elite high school linemen - players fall into lazy habits when they aren't punished for them. Santos saw upgraded competition and instantly tightened up his game. That's what you want.

Santos is a big-framed kid and if he grows right out of LB, it's nothing to lament. 280 pound DL with high energy who can run are useful. If he can keep his weight under 260 while improving his LBing skill set, we have a load inside who can anchor the defense and allow us to play all sorts of games with outside speedsters.

Overall

Jinkens and Santos are the best athletic gets of this group though Jinkens may be a specialized player and Santos could finish his career with a hand down. Alex DLT seems redundant to the Cole take, but he'll certainly be a solid program kid.

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