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The Five Biggest Surprises Of 2006: #4 - Derek Lokey

Some may find this an odd choice for this list - especially considering Lokey didn't play in the final five games of the season, but Lokey's breakout junior season, limited as it was to eight games, was a tremendous boost and a nice surprise.

Heading into the '06 season, a lot of folks thought that fellow tackle Roy Miller would be the one breaking out. Miller did have a nice season, and finished especially strong, but it was Lokey who really exploded to start things off, and who further exceeded expectations. I think it's only proper that I note MMHorns' comment from the preseason, picking Lokey as his breakout player.

Playing in three fewer games than his sophomore season, Lokey increased his production. His effect on the defense as a whole, in fact, was impressive: Before Lokey's season-ending injury against Nebraska, the team accumulated 28 sacks. After he left the field for the last time, the team got to the quarterback just 10 more times all year.

Unfortunately, Lokey was truly peaking at the time of his injury. His last three games - Oklahoma, Baylor, and Nebraska - were his three best of the season. The coaches were so enamored of his unparalleled intensity, they lined the big fella up at fullback in goal-to-go situations.

Lokey is expected to be completely healed in time for 2007 football, and assuming a full recovery is imminent, Texas fans have to love the prospects for a dominant interior defensive line. Okam, Miller, and Lokey - if healthy - could provide Texas with a desperately needed push from the middle up front, one that at the very least eats up blockers and frees linebackers to make plays on the ball.

Top 5 Surprises of the 2006 Season
#5 Scott Derry
#4 Derek Lokey