AUSTIN, Texas -- Linebacker Dalton Santos (Van, Texas/Van) has sent in his letter of intent to Texas.
Santos (6-foot-2, 240 pounds) is a four-star recruit rated as the No. 1 inside linebacker in the nation and No. 14 among in-state prospects by ESPNU.
He committed to Texas on Sunday after backing out of a nearly six-month verbal pledge to Tennessee. Santos also considered Oklahoma State -- he was committed to OSU from June until August -- as well as Arkansas and TCU.
As a senior at Van, the Under Armour All-American recorded 101 tackles (19 for loss), three sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and an interception.
Scouts take: Santos is a dominant run stopper from inside to the edge; his excellent instincts and immediate reactions allow him to create havoc in the backfield. Has the size and athleticism for the inside linebacker position at the major level of competition. This guy is a tough customer; displays very good balance and explosion when tackling; will punish and knock ball carriers back where they came from. This an athlete who brings it all to the field, resulting in momentum changing plays. Santos' size, toughness and intellect could get him early situational playing time on defense as his collegiate career begins.
Importance to class: Texas already had three commits from linebackers when it made a last-second push for Santos. Maybe their interest began when Mario Edwards Jr. said no to UT. More likely, the Longhorns’ need for a top-flight in-state linebacker came from the realization that seniors Keenan Robinson and Emmaunel Acho are gone and leave behind an inexperienced group in much need of playmakers. Either way, flipping Santos was an absolute steal for Texas.
How soon he can make an impact? On Sunday, Santos proudly told HornsNation he’s coming in to take over the starting job at middle linebacker, no matter who stands in his way. Right now, his biggest competitor is sophomore-to-be Steve Edmond. Whether he secures the starting spot in the middle or not, Santos has all the traits of a standout hitman on special teams, a role he could adopt right away this fall.
Quote: “I felt like I had to stay close to home and do what I do right here in the great state of Texas, in front of all my friends and family. … I want to bring a nasty mentality to that Texas defense like it should be. I don’t care who stands in my way, I’m going to do what I have to do.”