January 13, 2009

Kindle, Houston have T-rings, title on their minds

It won't show up in the recruiting rankings, but Will Muschamp's best recruiting job this year may have been convincing Sergio Kindle and the other defensive players to remain at the University of Texas for their senior years. Coach Muschamp sat down with Kindle's family and explained that it would be better for him personally and financially to remain a longhorn for one more year.

Muschamp's influence ended up being one of the biggest influences on his decision.

"Probably about a ton," Kindle said about Muschamp's impact on his decision. "Basically, he just laid out the numbers I can make this year compared to next year. He talked about the schemes for next year, and the possibility for our team to get to the Big 12 championship and the national championship with the players that we have coming back."

Kindle finished the season tied for third in the Big 12 conference with 10 sacks, and was named first team All-Big 12 by the other coaches in the conference. Despite all the success that he had last season, Kindle still feels that he has a lot of room to grow as a player in the next year.

"As well as I did this year, I was no where near as good as I can be," Kindle said. "I didn't go through offseason last year because of injuries, so just imagine how good I can be with a full offseason of training to work on my hand placement and flexibility. The sky's the limit."

Defensive Tackle Lamarr Houston also announced Monday that he will be remaining at Texas for his senior season. Houston had six tackles for a loss last season, including 1 � sacks. Having him back next season will be very important for a Texas team that lacks experienced depth at the defensive tackle position.

"Sergio and I talked a lot before and after the bowl game, and we figured that it was good to come back to school. Our senior year we can help this team win the big 12 championship, and be a national championship contender," Houston said.

Both players only have roughly 30 hours left until they can graduate, and the ability to graduate in December was important to each of them when the decided to return.

"My folks always put the decision on me," Kindle said. "It's my decision, and I'm going to have to live with it at the end of the day. My pops told me, 'I think you need to go ahead and stay, graduate, and get that T-ring.' That's the only ring he said I could keep, because he keeps all my bowl rings. I feel like the T ring will be worth more in the end anyways."

"I think the most important thing is that both young men have an opportunity to graduate in December and receive their T-rings," Muschamp said about their decisions. "That was very important to both kids, and we're excited about that more than anything."

The Texas defense will lose great players such as Brian Orakpo, Roy Miller, and Rashad Bobino, but more than their impact on the field, their leadership off the field will be greatly missed.

"The older guys kinda passed the torch down to us to be leaders not only of the defense, but of the team," Kindle said. "I'm not an outspoken person, but I think I can make that happen this year. The guys that played behind Orakpo know that they have big shoes to fill, so they're going to work extra hard to at least maintain the level of play that Orakpo had, if not try to beat it."

Brian Orakpo had to make a similar decision last year when he made the choice to remain at Texas, and he was able to help players like Kindle and Houston as they had to decide for themselves whether or not to leave for the NFL.

"He said that it's a good decision," Kindle said about his decision. "He said I'm going to get more publicity now, and I might even be in place for some awards that he won. That's not really an issue for me, but it would be nice."

The decision not to leave wasn't just one that the players made for themselves. It was one that players like Lamar Houston made for their families as well.

"For me I wanted to give my mom something that she's never had," Houston said.. "She had five boys, but she hasn't had a college degree from one of them

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