Gideon looking to close college career on good note

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Most Important Longhorn

Blake Gideon is the elder statesman in a young Texas secondary and has emerged as the leader of the defensive backs in his senior season.

Photo Credit: Jeff Heimsath | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s Note: The Daily Texan will introduce one more important Longhorn in our next issue. Here is No. 2 of the Texan’s 10 Most Important Longhorns.

When it comes to experience, Texas doesn’t have a lot of it. But Blake Gideon does.

Some of his experiences in a Texas uniform have been better than others. As a freshman, Gideon dropped an interception in the fourth quarter against Texas Tech that would have sealed a victory for the Longhorns. Instead, Michael Crabtree scored in the final seconds, and the Red Raiders handed Texas its only loss of the year. The following season, Gideon notched an interception in both the Big 12 and national title games. He’s the epitome of durability, starting all 39 games since he arrived on the 40 Acres, although many of the 12 he made last season, he’ll want to forget.

“People were mad, and nobody was fun to be around, but that’s what it needed to be,” Gideon said. “The main motivation for us was just remembering that feeling we had after the last game this past year and that pit in our stomach that we knew we let each other down. We let our coaches down. We let our fan base down.”

Gideon and his teammates are looking forward to putting last season behind them and making this year a memorable one.

“Any time you come off a subpar performance in a season, then you need to really look in the mirror and look at things you’re doing from top to bottom,” Gideon said.

“Obviously, something wasn’t working so it was important for us to start over and get back to the work ethic that built this program to what it is.”

Over the last three seasons, Gideon has made 194 tackles — 64 in 2008, 62 in 2009 and 68 in 2010. As good a safety as he might be, Gideon will need some help in the secondary to slow down the spectacular class of quarterbacks the Big 12 has to offer.

Texas’ other starting safety, Kenny Vaccaro, is a junior, but the Longhorns’ top three cornerbacks — Carrington Byndom, Adrian Phillips and Quandre Diggs — are all underclassmen. Gideon has done his part to help them along this offseason.

“After that first snap, you’re not a freshman anymore,” Gideon said. “You’re at UT. You’re here for a reason.”

Those underclassmen will get their first test Saturday against Rice. The Owls may not seem like they could present too much of a challenge, but Rice won its last two games last year while Texas won two of its last nine. Rice’s sophomore quarterback Taylor McHargue spent his high school days at Vista Ridge High School playing in District 16-5A, the same district Gideon’s Leander Lions were in. Gideon, however, never faced him.

“McHargue came from a great school district, the best in Texas,” Gideon said. “All those guys compete. They’re all Texas high school football products just like us.

They can be dangerous at any moment if we don’t respect them the way we should and if we don’t focus on every aspect of the game.”

Barring any career-threatening injuries — it takes a lot to keep Gideon off a football field, playing four games in high school with a broken back — the senior safety should make at least another dozen starts this year, which would bring him to more than 50. If Texas improves on its 5-7 record from last season, he’ll save his best ones for last.

Printed on September 1, 2011 as: Young secondary leaning on Gideon