Kindle's accident helps him mature as team leader

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

AUSTIN, Texas -- A recent automobile accident while text messaging helped Texas defensive end/linebacker Sergio Kindle learn to put down his phone while driving.

Kindle, an All-Big 12 preseason pick, said the June 24 accident was an enlightening experience that provided a valuable lesson about the perils of text messaging while driving.

"Mistakes happen even in the most innocent situations," Kindle said. "I apologized to my team and addressed and told them the whole deal of what happened. They still have faith in me so that's a good deal. I've got to go on."

His teammates said that Kindle was contrite when he explained what happened.

"It was a sincere and heartfelt apology," Texas senior defensive tackle Lamarr Houston said.

No charges have been filed against Kindle because of the accident. Kindle has said he wasn't drinking at the time of the crash. He sustained a concussion and was treated by team doctors the following day.

The accident has provided a teaching point for Texas coach Mack Brown, who wasted little time after Kindle's incident to implore his team not to text and drive.

"I think in a very unusual way, the texting incident probably helped him with his maturity and his leadership because he had to step up," Brown said. "He had to talk to me about it and then he had to talk to the team about it. Sergio had to admit that he would have done some things differently if he had to do it over."

The Dallas Morning News reported earlier this week that Kindle had been exchanging text messages with Bobby Estes of Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas.

The News said that Kindle had been watching Texas' game against LSU in the College World Series earlier in the evening. He stopped by the home of Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp for a couple of innings before leaving. And he texted Kindle soon after the accident to let him know what had happened.

Kindle said punishment for the incident has been handled internally and will result in no loss of playing time or practice activities.

His emergence is critical for the Longhorns at their biggest question mark along the defensive line as the team's most productive player. Kindle produced 53 tackles and 10 sacks while shuttling between linebacker and defensive end.

The Longhorns need production after the defensive line that led the nation with 47 sacks and lost NFL draft picks Brian Orakpo, Roy Miller and Henry Melton from last season.

Muschamp said that Kindle's instincts in the running game must improve for him to become a dominant player, as well as the honing his assortment of his pass-rushing techniques.

During his time as the defensive coordinator with the NFL's Miami Dolphins, Muschamp worked with All-NFL player Jason Taylor. That association, he believes, can help him teach Kindle.

"Jason didn't have a whole bunch of moves, but he was really good at what he did," Muschamp said. "We've tried to really work on building the things that Sergio does so well. He's got great initial quickness and take-off ability. We need to convert that to power and the work counter from that. Basically, that's what we've tried to do is just hone in on just getting really good at those things."

As much as his production, Kindle also will be counted to provide leadership for the Longhorns.

Orakpo provided a clear role model for Kindle's development as a team leader, although Kindle realizes that he is different from his older teammate.

"I have to develop a leadership style, but I'm not too much of a 'talker,' I'm a 'doer,' " Kindle said. "I will lead by example and not as much vocally. My style is completely different."