David Gbenda, LB
Among the most improved players for the Longhorns in the last 12 or 15 months is super senior linebacker David Gbenda. The fifth-year linebacker has emerged as a consistent contributor on the two-deep since late last season at the will linebacker position for the Longhorns.
Gbenda has started eight games for the Longhorns and played consistent reps on defense in every game this season. He’s played a career-high 347 defensive snaps this fall. Gbenda has continued to progress this fall, as he graded out as the best linebacker in the Power Five in Week 12 following Texas’ win over the Iowa State Cyclones on the road on Nov. 18.
Gbenda’s consistent contributions on defense have helped the Longhorns fill the void left by former senior linebacker DeMarvion Overshown, who left for the NFL last offseason, along with true freshman linebacker Anthony Hill Jr. Gbenda and Hill have split the reps at will linebacker this season as the latter has continued to learn and grow at the position.
Texas loses valuable experience at linebacker this offseason, with Ford expected to enter the 2024 NFL Draft. The rest of the linebacker room is pretty young and inexperienced, outside of Ford and Gbenda. Despite being a true freshman, Hill is a pretty experienced linebacker compared to the rest of that room.
With the way that Gbenda has played for the Longhorns this fall (and really since the second half of last season), it would be valuable for Pete Kwiatkowski and Jeff Choate to get his experience back for one more season.
Gbenda does still have one year of eligibility remaining if you include the COVID year.