Expectations have risen. Effort isn’t good enough this year for Texas but, especially on defense, results need to be made.
Linebacker Steve Edmond has risen with those expectations. The junior has established himself as a starter on this Texas team and has proven himself as a leader on the defensive side of the ball since practice resumed this summer.
“Steve has that sense of urgency now,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “He realizes he’s a junior now and he needs to buckle down on what exactly he needs to do every time he’s supposed to do it.”
Edmond walked into his sophomore season with much hype but he struggled after nonconference play. While finishing second on the team in tackles (103), he was unable to help the Longhorns stop the run game.
During spring practice, head coach Mack Brown and Diaz decided to set their starting lineup based on what the players had done in the offseason. What they did last season wasn’t relevant. Well, sophomore linebacker Dalton Santos came back slimmer and quicker, leaving Edmond behind.
The 245-pound linebacker, however, found that urgency as spring ball came to a close and passed Santos up.
“In April we went back into the weight room and now Steve started realizing these weights are changing him,” Diaz said. “He saw his body change. He saw the way he moved around change and felt all that change his life.”
That work has paid off. Edmond is now a faster, quicker, more aggressive player that is able to run down opponents from across the field. His teammates and coaches through fall camp have all praised Edmond.
“We had a lot of position battles this camp and spring,” senior Carrington Byndom said. “Steve has really come along and progressed. Its good for us.”
In addition to this new fitness, Edmond has gained more experience since his freshman year. After Jordan Hicks was unable to play most of last season with a hip injury, Edmond was given the opportunity to grow in his position.
“When you have more experience, I think that allows you to play faster,” Byndom said. “When you play faster you’re able to go sideline-to-sideline so I think one more year of experience for him [Edmond} is helping him and is helping him to play that much faster.”
Edmond, along with Hicks, has the ability to end the defensive struggles that Texas had last season. New depth and versatility has been added to the Longhorns lineup.
Preparation has been crucial for Edmond and his squad to put up more solid numbers.
“Now you need to find what’s real, tangible,” Diaz said. “What’s different now that makes me feel I have success in areas I didn’t have in the past? I believe that’s in the preparation of our players. I think it’s the way they’ve attacked our offseason program. I think it’s the way they’ve attacked our 15 spring practices, how many we’ve had so far through fall camp.”
Edmond and Hicks will assume the role as leaders on the linebacker crew. The duo has the chance to teach their younger counterparts and the rest of their defense how to be competitive as a Big 12 team.
“I would say the leadership of our team is better than it was a year ago,” Diaz said. “That’s not a knock on those guys. Just the type of people we have. Really you can divide it into corner, safety, linebacker, tackle, you have a great leader in all of those stations, which was not true last year, and almost not the year before.”