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 takes 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. 41 Deoundrei Davis
Redshirt freshman linebacker
Recruitment rewind: Davis was a bit of a sleeper when he made his verbal commitment to Texas following the Longhorns' second junior day of 2012. The only big program that was in the mix at that point was Oklahoma. He was ranked No. 151 in the final ESPN 300 and was one of the state's top 20 prospects out of Cypress Woods (Texas) High, near Houston.
Career so far: Davis enrolled early last spring, but he spent the entire year rehabbing and recovering from a torn ACL suffered during his high school senior season. He was still sidelined for the duration of spring practice this year. Considering the knee injury occurred in October of 2012, Davis should presumably be fully recovered by this fall, barring further setbacks.
Best-case scenario for 2014: Davis gets healthy and contributes on special teams and as a second-string linebacker. Considering how long he's been out of the game, getting on the field in any capacity would be a step in the right direction. It's easy to forget what Davis is capable of, but his high school film shows a fast, physical player with ideal size (6-foot-3, 228 pounds) who can make a difference against the run and the pass.
Worst-case scenario for 2014: Considering what little he's been able to do in his first year-and-a-half in the program, Davis is at a disadvantage compared to the rest of Texas' linebackers. Whenever he does get to put on the pads again, he won't have much room for error or rust if he wants a spot on the two-deep this season. Texas coaches and doctors were wise to not rush his recovery, but he can get lost in the mix to some extent if he doesn't show the new staff his capability.
Future expectations: As we said Thursday with Naashon Hughes, Texas has so many veteran linebackers that it's difficult to envision a clear path to major playing time for the younger guys in 2014. The new staff didn't recruit any of these guys, though, so they're not beholden to anybody. The best will play. Davis has a lot of raw talent and a lot to learn, and his opportunity to play a lot of snaps probably isn't coming until 2015.