With Kendrick Blackshire in the portal, who will be Texas' No. 1 linebacker?

Sep 7, 2019; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns linebacker and running back David Gbenda (33) takes the field.
Sep 7, 2019; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns linebacker and running back David Gbenda (33) takes the field. / Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Sarkisian has rebuilt the Texas Longhorns into a monster of a football team heading into the SEC and the 2024 season.

With talent at every turn, the Horns’ roster is one of the best in the nation and Texas is expected to be one of the top teams in the country, yet again.

Coming off a loss to the Washington Huskies in the College Football Playoff semifinals, the Longhorns will be out for revenge and it will lead to steep competition on the field, even within the team itself.

As spring practices fade in the distance and summer ball rapidly approaches, one of the positions that Texas will battle over this fall is the No. 1 linebacker on Sarkisian’s defense.

From returning star David Gbenda to second-year Liona Lefau to redshirt freshman Derion Gullette, the Horns are stuffed to the gills with talent at the position.

So, which highly-skilled linebacker should become Sarkisian’s LB1 in 2024?

David Gbenda. 467. . Senior+. 6'0, 225 pounds. gbenda. David Gbenda. LB. player.

Gbenda will be the most experienced linebacker on Texas’ roster. He is a sixth-year returner for the Horns and his stardom came to fruition last season.

In 2023, Gbenda amassed 50 total tackles and 1.5 sacks. He also broke up two pass attempts, doubling his career PDs.

During his sophomore season with the Horns (2020), Gbenda even snagged an interception out of the air.

As Gbenda continues to grow (both literally and figuratively, as he is already 6-foot-0 and 225 pounds), he has just nearly cemented himself as the Longhorns’ top linebacker for 2024.

Liona Lefau and Derion Gullette

Lefau and Gullette are relatively inexperienced linebackers, especially in comparison to teammate Gbenda. However, that doesn’t mean that either of them should be removed from this conversation.

Last season, Lefau saw the field in all 14 games for Texas but only amassed 7 total tackles. As he matures and enters his second season with the Horns, Lefau’s statistics will undoubtedly reflect his growth.

Gullette utilized his redshirt last season so he has yet to see any real playing time for the Longhorns. Now entering his second year but freshman season, he is a whopping 6-foot-3 and 231 pounds. With the perfect frame for a linebacker, he will unquestionably be a star.

Read more: