Texas linebacker Sergio Kindle gives hope to every program with a former high school all-American struggling for playing time early on in their career (slightly looking your way, Connor Smith).
After arriving in Austin accompanied by considerable (earned) hype, he was unable to crack the starting lineup his first two years and was officially in the "fighting for a starting spot" category heading into this season. Just a few short months after making life hell on opposing offenses, he's an all-Big 12 selection and one of the Longhorns the Buckeyes must account for on every snap Monday night.
Kindle matriculated to Texas after a standout career at Woodrow Wilson high school in Dallas2. There, he was nothing short of dominant. Rivals thought enough of him to name him the nation's top linebacker prospect in 2005, while Texas football recruitniks considered him to be the best recruit out of the Dallas area this decade. He toted the rock on offense as well, accumulating 5,000+ yards and 86 TDs in three seasons. His senior season he earned Parade All-American, USA Today All-American, several national "ironman" awards and just for good measure, he was the only player in the state of Texas to earn all-state honors on both sides of the ball.
So, you can imagine why Longhorn fans felt some frustration when Kindle failed to make a splash on his arrival. An injury kept him out of the first couple of games of his freshman season and then he had one huge game followed by several middling efforts. Burnt Orange Nation went so far as to name him the 4th biggest disappointment of 2006 season:
Normally, disappointment is reserved for kids who've been in the program for more than one season, but the expectations surrounding Kindle were far from normal, and by all accounts, appropriately so.
Kindle was arrested for DWI the following summer and as a result, was held out of the first three games of his sophomore season. He didn't really do much to distinguish himself the rest of the season and many Horns fans were wondering if he'd exit town a bust.
Thankfully for Kindle, there's always a next year in sports and he used his next year to put on an audition for the first round of the NFL draft3. Though not quite the pure tackler that fellow linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy is, Kindle typically lined up at end and created havoc. He finished with 9 sacks and 13 TFLs on the season. The sack number is good enough for 22nd nationally and 3rd-best among listed linebackers. That, in and of itself is great, but when you consider that offenses must often first worry about Orakpo, Kindle gets scary quick.
Kindle is often substituted for on likely running downs and his run-stopping skill may be the one weakness he has right now. As a result, he's lined up more and more on the edge as the season progressed. Against the pass-happy Big 12, however, he did just fine.
Despite any perceived run-stopping weaknesses, Kindle will be a part of the group of Longhorns tasked with stopping Beanie Wells. Though he didn't see the field when the teams met in 2006, he does have experience tackling Wells. In 2006, Kindle was part of the West defense in the Army All-American Bowl that ultimately yielded three TDs to Beanie on his way to game MVP honors.
1Designated Pass Rusher
2 Woodrow as it is known in Dallas, is considered one of the best high schools in the city and notable alumni include two former Heisman winners in Davey O'Brien and Tim Brown. The dude that coined the term Gangster of Love also attended.
3 Kindle is most certainly and edge rusher at the next level and thought to be a first round selection. In mid-September, the word was that he was leaning towards leaving, so this very well could be his last game as a Longhorn.