Dalton Santos: Texas's Answer at Fullback?

Because we really should use this image as frequently as possible.

No player in the Texas recruiting class of 2012 built quite the reputation that middle linebacker and designated hell-bringer Dalton Santos managed to create (obligatory reference to GoBR's post about the Man from Van). And surprisingly, Hellboy has managed to live up to the hellacious expectations he garnered leading up to the season.

He's lead a dominant kick coverage unit through the start of the season as a headhunter and creator of all things fear, evoking reactions I've overhead in section 114 like, "Holy crap, he's Bane." When it comes to special teams dominance, Santos is necessary evil, sent to break the spirits and the bodies of Texas's foes.

With snaps at middle linebacker largely going to sophomore sensation Steve Edmond, folks naturally want to see more of Santos. So when a comment in Scipio Tex's New Mexico offense post-mortem suggests that Texas has a great fullback prospect in Dalton Santos (if you don't read Scipio Tex's Post-Mortems, you should), I couldn't help but think that was a brilliant idea. The fire rises....

I'm no fullback aficionado (apparently, fullback isn't the term used to describe defensive tackles playing offense), but it makes sense to me. At 6'3" 250 lbs, Santos has sufficient mass to displace just about any opposing LB Texas will face in the coming years. He also has the requisite aggression and disregard for the safety of himself and others to stick his nose in a gap and drive a defender into the nearest stadium fixture.

Note: the Santos psych profile has been used in every crime drama as the foundation of the loose-cannon-cop-on-the-edge. And I bet the banter between Santos and Danny Glover would be awesome. Whether or not our Lethal Weapon would take to the position is anybody's guess. Learning the fullback position is more than locate gap > identify victim > destroy, but it's a great starting point. Pros and cons list time.

Reasons this is a brilliant idea

1. No clear-cut answer at fullback right now: I think the Texas struggles at FB this year are well documented. Ryan Roberson, a fifth-year senior, is the current leader of converted linebackers looking to be lead blockers for the Texas offense. Added to the mix are fellow converted linebackers, RS freshman Chet Moss and true freshman Alex De La Torre. The hope is Ryan Roberson dances along the Cody Johnson learning curve and becomes a force by the end of the year. But, after he graduates, you have a pair of freshman that likely won't have taken many snaps at the position. Pretty wide open to me.

2. Middle linebacker depth chart: For every bit of physical awesomeness that is Dalton Santos, Steve Edmond has it. Add in an extra year of experience, starting at the position right now, getting off to a solid start, and Edmond has the leg up as your starting middle linebacker for the next three years. If Edmond holds down the majority of those snaps through graduation, it may be Santos's senior year that he gets his first shot at starter on defense. Absent a position change by either player, defensive snaps may be hard to come by. Why not give Santos a shot at offense?

Reasons this is insane crazy talk

1. You think you can convince Manny Diaz to hand him over? Me neither. Generally, coaches like their shiny new toys. Maybe shiny new toy isn't a good way to describe Santos. Giant sledgehammer is more appropriate. Coaches like giant sledgehammers too. Anyway, try to walk into a room and ask Manny Diaz for his sledgehammer. Given his way with words, you'd probably leave the room wondering how he managed to convince you to pass over your mallet for a bucket of thumbtacks.

2. Would shifting his potential dominance on defense to a non-essential position be a waste? Possibly. Depth charts are funny things. You can't foresee situations where something happens and Santos is immediately manning the middle of the defense. He's an ideal player for the position and could be a difference maker given the opportunity. It may not be worth switching him to other side of the ball where he may not catch on at a position that isn't make-or-break for the team's success.

Caveat: the change wouldn't happen this year. You don't just flip a guy from defense to offense that is contributing right now. And the odds of the switch happening in the offseason are still slim. But still, it's an interesting possibility to consider. It gives the guy an opportunity to knock some more heads around on the football field. Snappin' necks, and cashin' checks. What do you think? Am I nuts, or is this an interesting idea?

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