Before Texas begins its first season under Charlie Strong, we're taking a deep dive into all the talent he inherits in 2014. Our Burnt Orange Breakdown series will take a closer look at each scholarship player returning this fall and what we can expect from him. We're going down the roster from No. 1 Shiro Davis all the way to No. 99 Desmond Jackson.
No. 35 Kendall Thompson
Recruitment rewind: Thompson, a three-star inside linebacker at Carthage (Texas) High, chose Texas over offers from Arkansas, Missouri and Houston in the spring before his senior year. He won three consecutive state titles at Carthage, finishing with 372 tackles (46 for loss) and 11 interceptions in his prep career. Texas recruited him to develop into an edge-rushing outside linebacker.
Career so far: Thompson played in all 13 games as a freshman, then earned seven starts as a sophomore in 2012. He finished the season with 60 tackles and overcame a concussion late in the year to put up one of his best games in the Alamo Bowl vs. Oregon State, with two TFLs, a sack and a pass breakup. He served as a backup last season and played in 11 games until, for the second straight season, he suffered a concussion against Texas Tech. Thompson did not play in Texas' spring game this year.
Best-case scenario for 2014: Thompson still appears on Texas' 2014 roster, but according to multiple reports this spring, he intends to end his playing career due to concussions. Between high school and college ball, Thompson has reportedly suffered four concussions in his career. Until Texas officials confirm this news, he's still on the team. But it seems likely Thompson's days in burnt orange are over. If he's in fact had four concussions, that's a perfectly reasonable decision. And if Thompson does elect to continue playing in 2014, you hope he can stay healthy and avoid any long-term damage.
Worst-case scenario for 2014: In light of that, the worst-case scenario for the Longhorns this fall will be if there's a revolving door of starters at linebacker. Such was the case for Texas in 2012, when a few key injuries led to nearly every player in the linebacker room having to enter the starting lineup at one point or another. New linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary already had to get by without several recovering players this spring. As the staff designs its new defensive schemes, they're going to need as many linebackers as possible healthy and ready to play.