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2012 BCS Champ. Position Breakdown - LBs
Alabama LB Dont'a Hightower
Alabama LB Dont'a Hightower
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 6, 2012


As a primer, check out the position-by-position breakdown of the 2012 BCS Championship.

2012 BCS Champ. Breakdown

Alabama vs. LSU - LBs

- CFN 2009 BCS Championship Breakdown - Florida vs. Oklahoma   
- CFN 2010 BCS Championship Breakdown - Alabama vs. Texas
- CFN 2011 BCS Championship Breakdown - Auburn vs. Oregon|

CFN 2012 BCS CHAMPIONSHIP POSITION BREAKDOWN
- Quarterbacks | Running Backs
- Receivers | Offensive Lines
- Defensive Lines | Linebackers
- Secondaries | Special Teams | Coaches

Alabama: The Tide has become a factory for special linebackers with a corps full of NFL players who can do it all. By design, the Alabama linebackers are supposed to be the stars, roaming free with the front three doing its job holding up against the run. This group has limitless range and doesn’t miss tackles. Ever.

Junior Dont’a Hightower is a First-Team All-SEC performance in the middle, leading the team with 81 tackles with three sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss. At 6-4 and 260 pounds he’s huge, fast, and tough in the middle of the linebacking corps with phenomenal range and peerless leadership ability. Backing him up is one of the nation’s top prospects coming into the season, 6-2, 242-pound Trey DePriest, who made 23 tackles in a reserve role. He’s the next star.

Hightower is the leader and the main man for the group, but Courtney Upshaw is more disruptive. Part outside linebacker and part defensive end in the JACK role, he’s a 6-2, 265-pound pass rusher who led the team with 8.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss and 45 stops. He came up with the team’s lone sack in the first game.

Working on the strongside is 6-3, 242-pound senior Jerrell Harris, who made 22 tackles as a jack-of-all-traded defender doing a little of everything where needed. 6-3, 245-pound junior Nico Johnson is an imposing athlete on the weakside finishing fourth on the team with 43 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss with 11 stops in the first game. He works in combination with sophomore C.J. Mosley, a very fast, very athletic 6-2, 234-pounder who made 36 tackles on the year.

LSU: By far, this was the team’s biggest X factor coming into the season. The quarterback situation was a concern, but linebacker experience was a problem at some spots after losing top tackler and leader Kelvin Sheppard. Helped by a big year from the defensive front, everything turned out to be solid. The line might be the rock, and the secondary might have the stars, but the LSU linebackers did their job.

Senior Ryan Baker earned Second-Team All-SEC honors on the weakside, after there was some talk of moving the 6-0, 236-pounder to the middle to replace Sheppard. A great student of the game with tremendous quickness, he uses it all for a punishing style that led the linebacking corps with 58 tackles.

Baker is the tough-as-nails playmaker on the outside, while 6-1, 223-pound senior Stefoin Francois and 6-2, 205-pound sophomore Tajh Jones will combine on the strongside. Francois has 11 stops on the year, but he brings experience and steadiness to the spot. Jones has been the better option with 24 tackles, but he’s built like an extra safety and is used more for his speed and quickness. Francois is fast, but the defense really moves when Jones is in.

6-2, 242-pound sophomore Kevin Minter is the biggest linebacker option, making 56 tackles in the middle. The Georgia native is one of the physically strongest players on the roster after bulking up over the last year, and now he’s a pure run stuffer who cleans everything up on the inside. Minter has been great, and 6-2, 223-pound backup Kamell Hatcher has been a more-than-solid fill-in, making 23 tackles after moving over from the secondary. Considering his athleticism and quickness, he hasn’t been doing much to get into the backfield, but he can move.

ADVANTAGE: Alabama. LSU has a productive rotation full of elite athletes who can all move and can all swarm around the ball, but Bama’s stars are true difference-makers. The focus of the LSU defense is in the big-tackling, big play secondary, while the Tide gets big plays from Hightower, Upshaw and the rest of a corps that swallows up everything against the run. Both weakside linebackers – Johnson and Baker – were the most productive defenders in the first game, and they should be effective again.

CFN 2012 BCS CHAMPIONSHIP POSITION BREAKDOWN
- Quarterbacks | Running Backs
- Receivers | Offensive Lines
- Defensive Lines | Linebackers
- Secondaries | Special Teams | Coaches