Kevin C. Cox
The Longhorns are now in pursuit of a rangy JUCO outside linebacker.
Looking for instant help at linebacker, the Texas Longhorns have moved on a junior college prospect committed to the Tennessee Volunteers -- Hutchinson (KS) CC's De'Vondre Campbell, a 6-5, 220-pound Florida native who plays outside linebacker.
With the Longhorns now more willing than ever to pursue junior college prospects to fill immediate needs, some wondered during the middle of the season why Texas hadn't reached out to any JUCO linebackers.
Perhaps spurred by the recent firing of Volunteer head coach Derek Dooley, Texas extended an offer to Campbell on Monday.
Jordan Hicks appears injury-prone now with his season is over following his groin injury against Ole Miss, so he can hardly be counted on in the future. Steve Edmond and Kendall Thompson, while improved, lack ideal speed from sideline to sideline, even when they do react as quickly as possible. Of the two linebackers who do have excellent speed, Demarco Cobbs has been benched for the most part because he can't tackle or hold up in the run game and Peter Jinkens is still young and undersized.
As a result, Campbell could prove to be the perfect combination of size and speed. At 6-5, he has the size to disrupt passing lanes and keep offensive linemen out of his body with his length, and as a former 220m track athlete in high school, Campbell ran a 22.03.
There's no question that he's still raw, but he will enroll early at his school of choice to get acclimated and benefit from a whole offseason in a college strength and conditioning program.
Campbell's longtime commitment to Tennessee could have kept other schools from more seriously pursuing him until Dooley was fired, but it's still a bit odd that such an athletic player at one of the premier junior college football factories in the country with a high-profile teammate with defensive tackle Toby Johnson could fly relatively under the radar -- the Longhorns are his only offer other than Tennessee.
In any case, the early word from Campbell's coach is that he's considering Texas and could take a visit ($), which the coaching staff would probably like to take place for the banquet on December 7th, the last major recruiting even for the Longhorns prior to Signing Day.
As happened with the 2012 class, landing a JUCO prospect or two late could provide the prospect or prospects that make some of the greatest differences for the 2013 team.