2014 Big 12 Preview: Linebacker Unit Rankings

Posted Aug 15, 2014

Preview 2014 - Big 12 Linebacker Unit Rankings & Breakdowns



- 2014 Big 12 Preview
- 2014 CFN Big 12 Schedules & Picks: Baylor to OU
- 2014 CFN Big 12 Schedules & Picks: OSU to WVU
- CFN All-Big 12 Team & Top 30 Players
- Big 12 Team Looks & Predicted Finish   
Unit Rankings QB | RB | WR | OL
DL | LB | DB | ST | Coaches

- 2014 Baylor Preview
- 2014 Iowa State Preview  
- 2014 Kansas Preview  
- 2014 Kansas State Preview
- 2014 Oklahoma Preview
- 2014 Oklahoma State Preview  
- 2014 TCU Preview 
- 2014 Texas Preview 
- 2014 Texas Tech Preview 
- 2014 West Virginia Preview  
1. Oklahoma
The linebacking corps should benefit from a great defensive line taking away most of the work, but OU has some tremendous players ready to produce. Geneo Grissom is part defensive end and part linebacker, but no matter how he operates, he’ll put up big numbers. Frank Shannon was the team’s leading tackler, but his off-the-field issues led to his suspenstion - the Sooners are still loaded. Dominique Alexander is a terrific inside presence who’ll also early honors, and Eric Striker should be an All-Big 12 performer.
Unit Ranking: 9

2. Texas
It all depends on health. Several options saw time last year, but if the starting trio can stay in one piece – and eligible - it’ll be devastating. Steve Edmond hasn’t had too much luck staying in one piece, but he can be outstanding when he’s right. Jordan Hicks is a big-time producer, and Peter Jinkins has all the tools on the strongside. However, Hicks and Edmond might be in hot water after reportedly having a meal paid for by an agent. At some point this year, though, when all the parts are in place, this should be one of the team’s biggest strengths. There’s good depth if there isn’t.
Unit Ranking: 9

3. TCU
The Big 12’s best run defense welcomes back its top three linebackers for the 4-2-5. Paul Dawson led the team with 91 tackles, and Marcus Mallet came up with 70 stops while Jonathan Anderson made 66 tackles – they’ll all play. Dawson was a JUCO transfer who paid off big-time right away, and now there’s even greater potential from the other options.
Unit Ranking: 8

4. Kansas State
After a great year against the run, the Wildcats have to replace Blake Slaughter and Tre Walker. Fortunately, Jonathan Truman is back after finishing second on the team in tackles and should shine on the weakside. D’Vonta Derricott is in from the JUCO ranks and might start right away in the middle, and Charmeachealle Moore has to become more of a factor on the outside. It’ll require some tweaking, but the production should be better than the talent.
Unit Ranking: 7.5

5. Baylor
The Bears will be great at getting behind the line from all angles, and they’ll get production from the linebackers as long as the young options shine around Bryce Hager in the middle. The D will mostly use five safeties, but it’ll play around with the alignment. Eddie Lackey is gone, and Brody Trahan is done, but there are plenty of athletes. This group won’t be as good, but it’ll come up with big plays.
Unit Ranking: 7

6. Oklahoma State
This could be a problem area without Caleb Lavey and Shaun Lewis around anymore, and with a few new starters and key backups needing to be found. Ryan Simmons is back after starting all of last year in the middle, and Seth Jacobs and Kris Catlin have to prove they’re up to snuff on the outside. There are athletes, but it’s going to take a while to try replacing Lavey and Lewis.
Unit Ranking: 6.5

7. West Virginia
There were plenty of problems last year, but at least there’s a ton of experience returning with leading tackle Nick Kwiatkoski and No. 3 tackler Jared Barber back. After seeing plenty of time, and despite being banged up, Isaiah Bruce is back getting work on the outside – he’ll have a big year. This is a very experienced, very versatile group that should find the right combination if, unlike last year, everyone can stay healthy.
Unit Ranking: 6.5

8. Kansas
Ben Heeney is a good veteran to revolve the defense around, and Jake Love appears ready to do more with a bigger role. The Jayhawks want to use five defensive backs more often than not, but there are lots and lots of options to figure out for the linebacking corps. While there aren’t the athletes or the stars of other Big 12 linebackers, this could be one of the team’s bigger strengths.
Unit Ranking: 6.5

9. Texas Tech
Gone is leading tackler Will Smith, but this could be one of the most interesting areas with running back Kenny Williams moving over to an outside linebacking gig. Sam Eguavoen should be the team’s top hitter – or close – but he can move and he knows what he’s doing. Overall, the experience might not be there, and there’s a lot riding on Williams, but this should grow into a disruptive force as the year goes on.
Unit Ranking: 6

10. Iowa State
Jeremiah George is gone after making 133 tackles, but Luke Knott is destined to put up big numbers and Jared Brackens might be an all-star if he can get into the backfield a bit more. Jevohn Miller can work in a variety of spots, and Jordan Harris is a promising JUCO transfer who should step in right away inside. Losing George hurts, but the Cyclones always find statistical stars.
Unit Ranking: 6