AUSTIN (AP) -Sergio Kindle's Texas teammates have seen him smash through blocks, crush ball carriers and scare the devil out of quarterbacks.
The problem is, he's done most of it in practice.
The linebacker was one of the top high school recruits in the country coming out of Dallas in 2006, so good he was a Texas all-state player on offense AND defense as a running back and linebacker.
Longhorns fans got excited just watching the 6-foot-4, 240 pound Kindle run through pregame warmups with that powerful body - he looks so good in a uniform he almost looks manufactured - only to see him spend much of the game on the sideline while smaller, slower players made the tackles.
He hasn't started a game at Texas.
Bedeviled by knee and shoulder injuries and a three-game suspension last season after a run-in with the law, Kindle is still trying to live up to the potential that everyone saw coming out of high school.
``I'm trying to put everything behind me, stay healthy and be a leader. This season is about stepping up my game on the field,'' said Kindle, who has 53 tackles in 19 career games as a backup and special teams player.
``Everybody is talking about hype and everything, I don't worry about none of that, I'm just here to play football. I hate watching football from the sideline,'' he said.
Kindle has been good enough in training camp to earn his first career start against Florida Atlantic on Saturday night in the No. 11 Longhorns' season opener.
``I hope it will be a breakout year for him,'' coach Mack Brown said. ``We're really excited about watching him play.''
Brown suggested the coaching staff has been a bit befuddled by Kindle's slow progress even with his injuries and other setbacks.
``We are all sitting here with our opinions, but we have no clue how some of these guys will respond. I watch them every day, and I recruited them, and I still don't know how they will respond in front of 100,000 fans,'' the coach said.
Kindle was expected to compete for a starting job last season but found himself suspended for three games after an arrest for misdemeanor driving while intoxicated. It was the harshest such penalty Brown had ever enforced, most likely because it came on the heels of several players arrests that summer.
When he returned, he was hobbled by shoulder and knee problems and missed two more games. Then he was knocked out of the Holiday Bowl with a knee injury that required surgery.
The surgery also forced Kindle to miss spring practice, putting him further behind when it came to learning new defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Will Muschamp's schemes. Muschamp is the third defensive coordinator Kindle has played for in three years.
``That had to be frustrating, physically and mentally,'' senior defensive tackle Roy Miller said. ``Sergio's a great athlete. He can run you down, he can pass rush you, he can hit you as hard as he wants to. ... When you can't do what you want to do and you have all that talent, it's like looking outside when you're grounded and you can't go out. You're stuck in the room and it sucks.''
Muschamp is looking for ways to use Kindle's size and speed to chase ball carriers and quarterbacks.
``He's got God-given pass rush ability,'' Muschamp said.
Those are words Kindle likes to hear. Words about what he can do, not what he hasn't done.
``Coach Muschamp is bringing the old me back,'' Kindle said. ``The quarterback is going to be my prey. ... I'm a predator.''

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