SLB Sergio Kindle, the jewel of Texas’ 2006 recruiting class, insists you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Well, duh. And that bodes ill for opponents as the Five-Star prep All-American is hungry — real hungry — for the kind of breakout season many expected two years ago. At the very least, Sergio Kindle is looking for his first starting assignment as a Longhorn. He suffered nicks and bruises during his first two seasons and saw action in just eight games last year.
“It feels good to be back,” Kindle said Thursday. “I was hurt for eight months. I need to get my football legs back, but I feel like it’s going to get back. It’s just going to take a little bit more time. Coach (Will) Muschamp is bringing the old Sergio back.”
So, what is the ‘old Sergio’? Might this be the Dallas Wilson product who was everybody’s prep All-American (Parade, USA-Today, EA-Sports) in 2005?
The ‘old Sergio’ is a relentless player,” Kindle told Inside Texas. “Y’all haven’t had a chance to see that because of injuries, but you’ll see this year.”
The ‘old Kindle’ is expected to come to fruition through Texas’ first-year defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
“Coach Muschamp is a fiery coach and I’m a fiery player,” Kindle continued. “I like high-intensity. I like to hit. I like to be physical, and that’s exactly what he likes.”
Even without Muschamp, Kindle is so thrilled to finally get back on the field that “I could scream, but I won’t do that. I’m excited. As a matter of fact, I’m ecstatic.” Longhorn fans will be too if Kindle taps into the potential that not only resulted in Texas 4A Defensive Player of the Year honors but also Parade’s choice as its 2005 Ironman winner recognizing the nation’s top two-way player.
“Last year, I backed up some good players. This year, I’m in a position to be a starter so I’ve got to bring my A-game. I’m willing to learn and put my best effort forward to get the job done.”
But first, Kindle underwent off-season surgery to repair cartilage in his right knee and was sidelined during the spring season. There had been speculation that Kindle’s rehab was progressing so slowly that he would be held out of contact during August camp. However, Kindle estimates he was good to go, though not 100 percent, by last April.
“I was gradually trying to make my way back to full speed and then, come summer time, I did everything with the team. I gradually got back into doing squats and leg presses trying to get my quads back. Once all that came, I was fired up. I knew it was a wrap from there.”
Rather than wrapping his knee, Kindle is now eager to test his ‘football legs’ when the Horns don full pads for the first time Friday afternoon.
“We were running without pads (through Thursday), but it’s a lot different with the extra 10 pounds of pads. It’s been a while since I’ve been out there with pads, so I feel kind of rusty. Once I get my legs back, things will be a lot smoother. I haven’t played ball since December, but it’s getting there.”
The junior opened with the Ones at SLB Thursday after working with the Twos on Wednesday. He is also training at DE in a three-point stance, or in a ‘Buck package’, to get more speed at the point of attack.
“They’ve been telling me the whole spring and summer that they wanted to work me off the edge to get more pressure on the quarterback. I’ll be rushing off the edge with Brian Orakpo. Coach is going to prepare me every day. I can get tips from Brian Orakpo and Henry Melton because they both excel at that position. It’s gonna be good.”
Kindle has not played defensive end since the ninth grade but salivates at the prospect of devouring quarterbacks.
“The quarterback is going to be my prey. I’m a predator.”
All told, he expects to be part of vastly-improved, two-deep corps of linebackers. In all probability, RS-freshman and first-team Parade All-American Keenan Robinson will share snaps at SAM while Rashad Bobino (38 career starts) will duke it out with Jared Norton (Holiday Bowl starter) at MIKE. WLB Roddrick Muckelroy (four career starts) may be the best overall ‘backer on the team, coaches have privately mentioned.
“When we (linebackers) come together…whooo!…that’s all I can say. You’ll see. It’s gonna speak for itself.”
Now, Kindle just wants his actions to speak louder than words.