Fifth-year senior Dalton Santos won't be able to solve the issues for the Texas Longhorns at middle linebacker, as the Van product announced on Monday that he will transfer to another school for his final season of eligibility. The decision comes after the coaching staff held annual post-spring meetings with players over the last week.
Because Santos received a medical redshirt last season and is set to graduate in May, he will immediately be eligible at the school of his choice, which could be Miami, Mississippi State, or Louisiana Tech, according to Justin Wells of Inside Texas, who broke the news and has deep connections in East Texas.
After suffering an ankle injury last spring, Santos was originally expected back in July of last year, but missed fall camp and then underwent another procedure on his injured ankle. He wasn't able to recover in time for spring practice, either, raising concerns about whether those continued issues will allow him to keep playing football.
A consensus four-star prospect and top-10 inside linebacker in the 2012 class, Santos developed a reputation as a strong special teams player early in his career and started one game as a freshman. In 2013, he moved into the starting lineup for seven games and finished fourth on the team with 74 tackles. However, the 2014 season saw Santos struggle to stay healthy or earn playing time behind Steve Edmond, so he only made 11 tackles and no disruptive plays (tackles for loss, sacks, interceptions, or forced fumbles).
Texas played Malik Jefferson at middle linebacker last season, but after playing outside in high school, it's not his most natural position. And because of Jefferson's pass-rushing ability, defensive coordinator Vance Bedford wants to give Jefferson more opportunities in that role this season, but it would certainly make that easier if someone could step as an effective middle linebacker to free up Jefferson to move around.
However, the 'Horns missed on the one pure inside linebacker taken in the 2015 class when Cecil Cherry transferred after three days of practice and then missed on both key targets in the 2016 class -- Michigan product David Reese, who chose Florida, and in-state star Dontavious Jackson, who is headed to Florida State.