Under Mack Brown and Duane Akina, Texas has become known as "DB U", sending defensive backs to the NFL on an almost annual basis.
Senior safety Kenny Vaccaro will be carrying that mantle in 2012, as he was named to the Jim Thorpe Award Watch List, given annually to the nation's top defensive back. He would be the third Longhorn to win that award under Brown and Akina, following Michael Huff in 2005 and Aaron Ross in 2006.
Vaccaro, entering his third year as a starter, is expected to take a leadership role on a Texas defense trying to help return the Longhorns to national prominence after a 13-12 stretch in the last two seasons.
He's also considered one of the top NFL prospects in the country, as Archie Barberio explained in a scouting report for Vaccaro on SB Nation Dallas:
Vaccaro finally earned a full-time starting role at safety as a junior in 2011, starting in all 13 games. He registered 82 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 8 pass breakups and 7 quarterback hits. Vaccaro is a very good strong safety prospect with a physical mentality who loves to hit, but he also has the athleticism and range to be a natural free safety in the NFL. Depending on what team drafts him, Vaccaro could play either safety position at the next level.