How's Your Unit? - More Linebackers
Connecticut LB Yawin Smallwood
Connecticut LB Yawin Smallwood
Posted Mar 30, 2013

The most interesting linebacker situations this offseason, Part 2

2013 Spring Preview 

Position Watch - More LBs

- Top Ten 2013 key spring linebacker situations

E-mail Pete Fiutak
Follow Us ... @ColFootballNews  

Boise State
The Broncos got run over and hopped over by Le'Veon Bell in the opener against Michigan State, but the run defense was solid throughout the beat and the D ended up finishing eighth in the nation. Unfortunately, J.C. Percy and Tommy Smith are gone after coming up with 179 combined stops. Blake Renaud should be the team's leading tackler in place of Smith. He came up with 46 tackles, while promising sophomore Tyler Gray showed off his athleticism and speed making 27 stops. Depth is going to be at a premium in the 4-2-5, but the Broncos always find productive players who can run through a wall to make a tackle.

The Huskies don't get too much national press, but the run defense was phenomenal finishing seventh in the nation helped by a fearsome pass rush that made play after play behind the line. Unfortunately, future NFL starter Sio Moore and his 72 tackles are gone along with the 95 tackles from Jory Johnson. On the plus side, Yawin Smallwood is back after coming up with 120 stops on the inside. Junior B. J. McBryde only made five tackles and sophomore Marquise Vann came up with four, but they fit the UConn mold. On the way are three excellent interior defenders in Junior Joseph, Matt Walsh and Cory Jasudowich, who all have the talent and size to provide instant depth, while Jalen Stevens is promising on the outside.

The Tigers might have struggled way too much against the run, but Zaviar Gooden and Will Ebner were SEC-caliber linebackers who held up well and were reliably consistent. In the 4-3, the Tigers now need last year's backup on the weakside, Darvin Ruise, to step up and become an all-around factor after making just eight tackles, while senior Andrew Wilson should be terrific in the middle after coming up with a team-leading 80 stops on the strongside. The big question is whether or not sophomore Kentrell Brothers and senior Michael Brennan can become big factors in the rotation to keep everyone fresh.

You don't replace Khaseem Greene. Some scouts might think he's more stats than substance, but he was one of the best all-around linebackers in college football over the last few years and he never received enough credit – other than from CFN. It doesn't help the great Scarlet Knight defense that Greene's running mate, Steve Beauharnais, is also gone after adding 82 tackles last season and 374 in his career. Fortunately, senior Jamal Merrell is a good place to start coming off an 83-tackle season. Steve Longa was listed behind Greene last year, but he didn't get on the field. Senior Nick DePaola made 13 tackles playing behind Beauharnais, but he's undersized for the middle. Junior Kevin Snyder came up with 30 stops in the rotation and can play any of the three spots.

The Cavalier defense might have failed at times, getting ripped up five times for 37 points or more, but the run defense wasn't bad and Steve Greer was fantastic with 122 tackles. LaRoy Reynolds finished second on the team with 90 stops on the weakside. Both of them are gone, making junior Daquan Romero the veteran to build around on the strongside, but he could move to the middle to replace Greer. Zach Bradshaw, Micah Kiser and Connor Wingo-Reeves are terrific recruits, but they'll probably have to wait in line with junior D.J. Hill and sophomores Demieitre Brim and Eli Harold having waited their turn.

- Top Ten 2013 key spring linebacker situations