|Dak Dillon / USA TODAY Sports|
|The return of LB Jordan Hicks from injury should give the Texas defense a much-needed boost.|
This is the fifth in a series looking at the best position tandems in the Big 12, taking into account college production and pro potential. Today it is the best pair of linebackers in the Big 12.
The best: Texas
The duo: Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond
The reasoning: Oh, Texas, what are we to do with you? Despite an abundance of talent, the defense alternated between mediocre and atrocious last season. West Virginia shredded the Longhorns through the air. Kansas overpowered them on the ground. Oklahoma dominated them in every way imaginable. The absence of weakside linebacker Jordan Hicks, who missed the final 10 games with a hip injury, was only one reason for those struggles.
In 2011, Hicks was a key piece in a defense that ranked in the top 11 nationally in rushing yards allowed, pass efficiency and total yards allowed. He showed good range and instincts that year, also earning first team Academic All-Big 12 recognition. If he can again show that form, Texas should be much improved.
Steve Edmond was adequate in the middle, recording 103 tackles and six tackles for loss in his first go-round as a starter. Edmond has dropped some weight in the offseason, which could result in more impact plays this season. He accounted for only one interception and two forced fumbles in 2012. Texas had only 21 takeaways -- not acceptable for a team with BCS bowl aspirations -- and Edmond will have to lead that turnaround.
In a Big 12 without any obvious big-time linebackers entering this season, consider this a reluctant vote of confidence that Texas will look like Texas again, with Hicks and Edmond out in front.
Next up in this series: Defensive backs.
Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.