AUSTIN (KXAN) — Despite being in the transfer portal era of college football, Texas Longhorns fifth-year senior linebacker David Gbenda never thought about trying to find greener pastures elsewhere.
With the ease of the one-time transfer option and how the portal system expedites the free agency-type movement in NCAA athletics, Gbenda would rather learn from others who play his position and grind with fellow Horns in the weight room than try to go somewhere else.
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After a training camp session Tuesday night, Gbenda was candid when talking about how he sees himself now as a player and why he’s still wearing burnt orange.
“I never really was a guy that just quit,” he said. “I believed in this university and I told myself I was going to get a degree here. I 100% committed to the university, regardless of what else was going on.”
He played in 11 games during his redshirt sophomore season in 2021, but then his playing time fell off the following year as he appeared in eight games and James Madison transfer Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey played in every game. Gbenda said he didn’t let that bother him, and when he learned the coaching staff was recruiting Tucker-Dorsey, Gbenda said it was a learning opportunity for him.
“I looked at this addition to the team as someone I could learn from,” he said. “I looked at his film and thought they were bringing him in for a reason. I wanted to take some things here and there from his game, so I was just very eager to learn from him.”
The cerebral approach Gbenda takes to football is what has helped him stick around. He’s always trying to pick up something from another player and always trying to learn. In this training camp specifically, Gbenda said he’s “being more intentional,” with things off the field.
“I’m more intentional with my recovery, film studying and understanding the little details in my work,” he said. “For instance, I’ll go look at [Morice Blackwell Jr.] Mo’s footwork, Anthony’s [Hill] pass rush, Jaylan’s [Ford] zone drop … I’ll take bits and pieces from each of their game and try to implement into mine and improve.”
A high school All-American coming out of Katy Cinco Ranch, Gbenda has spent time on special teams and briefly made a position switch to running back while making two starts in his career at linebacker. While he jokes with his teammates about the cup of coffee he had carrying the ball, he said it’s part of his journey at UT.
“Looking back, I’m thankful for every step because every little thing, every bump in the road and every hardship, I’ve learned and I’ve taken and grown from it to become the man I am today.”
With the winding path he’s taken, Gbenda said he’s ready for the next steps. Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian said, “who plays next to Jaylan Ford,” will be one of the more interesting position battles of training camp and when Gbenda was asked if he felt it was “his time,” this season, his reply was strong and confident.
“Yes, I do.”