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Texas LB Jaylan Ford announces return for the 2023 season

A massive offseason decision fell in favor of the Longhorns two days before the start of winter conditioning.

NCAA Football: Baylor at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Longhorns rising senior linebacker Jaylan Ford announced his return for the 2023 season on Saturday following a breakout campaign that fell just short of earning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors.

“Dear Longhorn Nation, first, I want to thank everyone who has supported me along this journey. Becoming a part of the Longhorn family has been nothing short of amazing,” Ford wrote.

“Being able to put on the burnt orange and play for those who love the game just as much as I do has been a true blessing. I have created so many memories that will last a lifetime.

“To my Longhorn family, I want you all to know that I strive every day to represent everything this school is about, both on and off the field, and I feel that there is still a lot I have yet to accomplish, as a player and a student.

“With that being said, I will continue to build my legacy and help this team create something special and return for my senior season.”

A consensus three-star prospect ranked as the No. 1,221 player nationally and the No. 81 inside linebacker in the 2020 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Ford was a late addition for Texas, flipping from Utah during the early signing period.

Ford in all 10 games as a freshman, playing primarily on special teams and logging 14 tackles with one tackle for loss, including seven tackles and one tackle for loss in the regular-season finale against Kansas State. In 2021, Ford started two of the 12 games in which he appeared with 53 tackles and a team-leading six tackles for loss.

During the 2022 offseason, Ford began to establish himself as one of the most buzz-worthy players in the program and fulfilled that promise by emerging not only as a full-time starter, but the team’s best defensive player and one of the best defenders in the conference. Ford’s 119 total tackles were the most for a Texas player since 2014 while adding 10 tackles for loss, two sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, four interceptions, two quarterback hurries, and two pass breakups. The four interceptions tied the school’s season high for a linebacker and all four set up touchdowns for the Longhorns.

Even though Ford was snubbed for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors, he made more game-changing plays than any other defender in the conference, setting up his decision to stay for his senior season or depart for the 2023 NFL Draft as one of the most consequential of the offseason for Texas.

Ford’s return will anchor the Longhorns defense as coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski works to replace starting Will linebacker DeMarvion Overshown and a handful of other departures from a group that improved significantly from 2021 to 2022.