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DBU no more? Texas tradition through the years

Part 1 of the seven-part series looks at the overview of the current defensive back landscape at Texas and LSU.

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Former defensive backs coach Duane Akina was the architect of modern-day DBU at Texas
Former defensive backs coach Duane Akina was the architect of modern-day DBU at Texas
Brett Davis (USA TODAY Sports)

Just a few short years ago, the race between the Texas Longhorns and the LSU Tigers for the title of the real DBU was a close one.

Not so much any more, as Tiger defensive backs took home Thorpe Award wins in 2010 and 2011 and six products of Les Miles' program from the defensive secondary were taken in the 2011, 2012, and 2013 drafts combined. In those same years, the Horns had four defensive backs drafted, aided mightily by the three-man 2011 draft class that included Aaron Williams, Curtis Brown, and Chykie Brown.

As the group that contributed to the 2005 national championship continues to age and fall out of the league, the gap between the active players in the NFL for both schools has widened -- there are currently 12 LSU defensive backs in the league, compared to eight for Texas, with Carrington Byndom and Michael Huff two players on that list of Horns who may have serious trouble making rosters this fall.

Suffice it to say, the trend is headed in the wrong direction for Texas, seemingly a truth across the board for a program that hasn't had a truly successful season in this decade.

Moving forward, the Tigers may be without their top defensive back from 2013, as DeSoto product Jalen Mills was recently arrested and suspended following a battery charge that could potentially impact his career in Baton Rouge. Of course, LSU now has star 2014 signees from Texas like Edward Paris and Jamal Adams on campus, two players who were important targets for the Horns in that cycle.

The potential for the Horns to regain that title rests of course on the players currently on campus, the members of the 2014 recruiting class, and the prospects that will sign with the 2015 group next February.

However, as much as the current environment suggests that it is LSU that truly bears the title at the moment of the real DBU, the roots of strong defensive back play at Texas goes back beyond the Duane Akina era to the early 1980s, when the talented Texas secondaries featured stalwarts like Johnnie Johnson, Jerry Gray, and Vance Bedford.

And Texas should also benefit from the presence of head coach Charlie Strong, defensive coordinator Vance Bedford, and defensive backs coach Chris Vaughn, all of whom are tremendously qualified and have a history of success.

The appeal of the SEC may have never been higher, but there's plenty to sell to defensive backs about Texas, including the rich history of success and the current stable of coaches. As the new staff seeks to return the program to a place of prominence nationally, restoring the fading luster of DBU will be a major part of that equation.