Time to check in with Houston to see what position group is in the spotlight this spring.
Why: I know quarterback is an area that is in the spotlight, but considering three incoming players will not be joining until the summer, we went in a different direction. Defensive line is an area to watch as the one position group depleted most by graduation. But I am going with linebacker for one main reason. The biggest playmaker on the defense the past several seasons is the biggest player that has to be replaced. Linebacker Phillip Steward started 47 games for the Cougars and was a Conference USA first-team selection in 2012 after racking up a league-high 11 sacks while leading the team with 128 tackles. He was not only an outstanding player but an outstanding leader on that defense, so the Cougars have a tough task ahead to replace him. They also need to find a replacement for starter Everett Daniels as well. The good news is Houston has a solid player on deck to start in the middle -- LSU transfer Trevon Randle. While sitting out last season because of NCAA transfer rules, Randle made himself a leader on the sideline during home games, while also running on the offensive and defensive scout teams. Coaches believe he has a huge amount of potential and are excited about what he can do. On the strong side, early enrollee Caleb Tucker has been impressive during early drills and is competing with senior Austin Wilson, who has only played in 18 career games with no starts. One other bright spot -- Derrick Mathews returns on the weak side. He had 126 tackles, 17 for loss, six sacks, two forced fumbles and five pass breakups a year ago. This group also has a new position coach in Vernon Hargreaves, well respected throughout the industry. So even though there will be two new starters, this group has the potential to be pretty solid in 2013.