Edwin Freeman, a sophomore linebacker out of Arlington Bowie, picked a perfect time to make his first college start.
Freeman turned in a stellar performance with six total tackles, five solo, and two for loss including a sack, when the Longhorns knocked off then-No. 8 Baylor 35-34 Oct. 29.
“It was a big game, in our house,” Freeman said. “Everybody was ready to play. Our mindset was to go out there and everyone do his best to make plays.”
After Texas started 3-4 with losses to Cal, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Kansas State, Freeman noticed a change in the locker room attitude.
“It was just a better energy in practice and better preparation,” Freeman said. “We’ve been focused on Fridays for the walk-through. It’s the same energy with everyone. We all want the best for the team.
“We were just tired of losing.”
That momentum swing carried over to last week, when Texas defeated Texas Tech on the road. The Red Raiders, first in the nation in passing yards and fourth in points scored, sputtered on offense in a 45-37 Longhorns win in Lubbock.
Freeman got his second consecutive start and delivered again. He finished the game with a team-high nine tackles, seven solo and two for loss.
Now, Texas (5-4, 3-3) will have to beat No. 11 West Virginia to stay above .500.
Freeman played in six games as a true freshman a season ago, which helped him gain crucial experience. This year, he’s developing into a defensive standout.
“I’ve learned more, and I know a lot more about the game,” Freeman said. “I love the big games. It’s the emotion. You want to be that guy who is making the plays. The guy who is showing up and playing hard for his brothers on the defense.”
Freeman, who said he wasn’t as focused during practices in 2015, has increased his daily intensity.
“It’s all about working hard in practice,” he said. “Because you are going to play like you practice.”
While Texas coach Charlie Strong’s job security has been making headlines all season, Freeman said the team isn’t concerned about any rumors or what could happen at the end of the year.
“We have to stay strong together,” Freeman said. “We hear the noise, but we don’t really listen to it or pay attention to it. Our coaches want us to just go out and play football and have fun. And that’s what we’re doing.”