Texas linebacker coach Brian Jean-Mary inherited one of the most experienced position groups when he was hired, but the experience has been somewhat overshadowed by adversity. The Longhorns return all of the starters from 2013, however, the history of injury from the position should not be overlooked.
Last season, six linebackers either nursed injuries from the previous season or suffered injuries during the year that forced them to miss playing time. Jordan Hicks and Tevin Jackson have also missed spring practice because of last year's injuries.
Hicks has flashed signs of how good he could be, but has missed the majority of the last two years due to somewhat freak injuries and is still recuperating a torn Achilles tendon. Unfortunately for Hicks, and for Texas fans, his injured past makes it difficult to expect much of anything from him in 2014.
"It's the older group, so you expect guys to come out and make more plays with Hicks being down right now. But we have enough there in the backup position where we can rotate guys," head coach Charlie Strong said of the linebackers.
Here are a few of the younger guys to keep an eye on in 2014.
Tim Cole was a reliable backup for Texas when Hicks and countless other linebackers suffered injuries in 2013. The 6'2", 232-pound sophomore saw playing time in 11 games at last season, including one start against Iowa State.
Cole earned All-American, all-state, all-area and three-time first-team all-district honors during his time at Brenham High School, which shows he has a lot of potential for the Longhorns at linebacker.
Redshirt freshman Deoundrei Davis spent the 2013 season sidelined with a knee injury he suffered during his senior year of high school, but Davis is now healthy and has the opportunity to show Strong and his staff what he brings to the table. The 6'3", 228-pound linebacker earned All-American accolades during his time at Cypress Woods High School.
Rivals.com ranked Davis as the No. 5 outside linebacker in the 2013 recruiting class due to his ability to make plays in space. If he can stay healthy, Davis has the chance to be the type of linebacker that can help Texas against the uptempo offenses in the Big 12.
Early enrollee Andrew Beck has been turning heads in spring practice, mainly because of his measurables. The 6'3", 233-pounder was rated the No. 23 inside linebacker by Rivals.com, No. 46 outside linebacker by ESPN.com and No. 36 middle linebacker by Scout.com.
In other words, Beck appears to be a versatile, talented linebacker. Strong said Beck's decision to enroll early has helped him in learning the Longhorns' new system and has helped him become a backup option early in spring practice.
All quotes were obtained firsthand.
Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's featured columnist covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.
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