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2006 Unit Rankings – Linebackers
Posted Aug 27, 2006

Preview 2006 Unit Rankings Linebackers  

Offenses | Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers | Offensive Lines
Defenses | Def. Lines | Secondaries | Spec. Teams

1. Penn State
This should be one of the nation's best linebacking corps if and when Paul Posluszny comes back healthy from the knee injury suffered in the Orange Bowl. Tim Shaw and Dan Connor don't get the publicity of Posluszny (at least, in Connor's case, positive publicity), but they're almost as effective. These three should come close to cranking out 300 tackles and should clean several mistakes made by the young defensive line. The backups are more than solid with three good prospects looking for time to try and be more in the mix in 2007.

2. USC

A concern going into last season, the linebacking corps might be the best in America if all the parts are intact. This is a very big, very fast group with seven All-America caliber talents not counting the big-time freshmen coming in this summer. The return of Thomas Williams from a knee injury and Dallas Sartz from a shoulder problem gives the corps a big boost, while the progression of Rey Maualuga and Keith Rivers as experienced veteran should mean few mistakes.

3. California
It'll be a major disappointment if this doesn't grow into one of the nation's best linebacking corps. There's a great mix of reliable veterans and rising young stars with last year's fantastic recruiting class about to pay off in a big way. Everyone can run and everyone can hit like a ton of bricks. Desmond Bishop is a strong leader in the middle, while speedy Anthony Felder and the superstar recruit of 2005, Worrell Williams, will wreak havoc on the outside.

4. Nebraska
This is one of the Big 12's deepest and more productive corps with six players all able to start without a problem. Bo Ruud is an All-Big 12 performer who'll have a hard time getting a starting spot with the return of Steve Octavien from a broken leg. Phillip Dillard is a rising star in the middle, but he'll have to battle leading tackler Corey McKeon for time. With Stewart Bradley back after suffering a season-ending knee injury, the coaching staff has envious problem of trying to find time for all the talent.

5. Miami
There aren't any national stars, at least not yet, but the return of Tavares Gooden from a shoulder injury, Darryl Sharpton from an ankle and knee problem will make this a very good, very deep corps. It's not all that big, but everyone can run and there will be big-time competition all season long for playing time. Glenn Cook will have a fight on his hands with Sharpton for the job in the middle, while veteran Jon Beason will have to use his experience to grow into more of a playmaker.

6. Virginia Tech
As long as Brenden Hill and Corey Gordon can combine to replace the 82 tackles and all-around playmaking ability of James Anderson, this should be a fantastic corps. Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi are among the nation's best linebacking tandems and should wreak havoc all season long on the inside and in the backfield. Finding quality depth on the inside will be a big issue early needing smallish Purnell Sturdivant and Brett Warren to be more than just decent special teamers.

7. South Florida
The 1-2 punch of Stephen Nicholas and Ben Moffitt is one of the best in the nation and should combine for close to 200 tackles and over 30 tackles for loss. Pat St. Louis is the unsung third member of the group, but he finished second on the team in tackles. The reserves haven't gotten a lot work since the front three have been so good, and there's a huge drop-off from the first to the second team.

8. Oklahoma
The corps has the potential to be among the best in the country if all the high school superstars come though. Rufus Alexander will be on the short list for most All-America teams on the weakside, while Zach Latimer is a rock-solid tackler in the middle. Demarrio Pleasant is way overdue to breakout, but he'll be pushed for time by last year's four-star recruiting trio of Curtis Lofton, Lamont Robinson and Ryan Reynolds .

9. Florida
Brandon Siler and Earl Everett will be one of the SEC's best 1-2 linebacking punches, and then all bets are off. Brian Crum looks the part, but has yet to show off any of his skills on a regular basis. If he doesn't rock on the strongside and if Jon Demps isn't 100% healthy after seeing his promising true freshman season cut short, there could be trouble.

10. Texas
The potential is there for this to grow into a dominant corps by the end of the season. The big question mark is in the middle trying to replace All-American Aaron Harris. Rashad Bobino will move over from the weakside to give it a shot, but he'll have serious competition from star-in-waiting redshirt freshman Roddrick Muckelroy. Robert Killebrew is a solid outside defender, while Drew Kelson and Jeremy Campbell bring good speed to the weakside.

11 Auburn SEC
12 Michigan Big Ten
13 Georgia Tech ACC
14 Ohio State Big Ten
15 Clemson ACC
16 Florida State  ACC
17 Colorado   Big 12 
18 Mississippi   SEC
19 West Virginia Big East
20 Tulsa CUSA
21 Tennessee SEC
22 Boston College  ACC
23 Missouri Big 12 
24 Georgia SEC
25 Wisconsin Big Ten
26 TCU M-West
27 Pitt Big East
28 Louisville Big East
29 Arizona   Pac 10
30 Alabama SEC
31 Maryland ACC
32 Arkansas   SEC
33 Washington State Pac 10
34 Kansas State Big 12 
35 Wake Forest ACC
37 NC State ACC
38 Mississippi State SEC
39 Connecticut Big East
40 Syracuse Big East
41 Utah   M-West
42 Iowa State Big 12 
43 Virginia ACC
44 Texas A&M Big 12 
45 Michigan State Big Ten
46 Cincinnati Big East
47 Southern Miss  CUSA
48 Texas Tech Big 12 
49 Houston CUSA
50 BYU M-West
51 Iowa   Big Ten
52 North Carolina ACC
53 Notre Dame Ind
54 Boise State WAC
55 Fresno State WAC
57 Toledo MAC
58 Washington Pac 10
59 Purdue Big Ten
60 Kentucky SEC
61 Marshall CUSA
62 Navy Ind
63 Oregon Pac 10
64 Kansas Big 12 
65 Oklahoma State Big 12 
66 Arizona State Pac 10
67 UCLA Pac 10
68 South Carolina SEC
69 Baylor Big 12 
70 Minnesota Big Ten
71 East Carolina CUSA
72 New Mexico   M-West
73 San Diego State M-West
74 Oregon State  Pac 10
75 Rutgers Big East
76 Vanderbilt SEC
77 Illinois Big Ten
79 Ohio MAC
80 Stanford Pac 10
81 Nevada WAC
82 Northwestern Big Ten
83 Wyoming  M-West
84 Colorado State M-West
85 Memphis CUSA
86 Arkansas State Sun Belt
87 Northern Illinois MAC
88 Western Michigan MAC
89 Central Michigan MAC
90 Duke ACC
91 Indiana Big Ten
93 Akron MAC
95 Louisiana Tech WAC
96 Hawaii WAC
97 Army Ind
98 Eastern Michigan MAC
99 FIU Sun Belt
100 Ball State MAC
101 North Texas Sun Belt
102 Troy Sun Belt
103 Bowling Green MAC
104 UNLV M-West
105 Air Force M-West
106 MTSU Sun Belt
107 UL Lafayette Sun Belt
108 Idaho WAC
109 Miami Univ. MAC
110 Buffalo MAC
111 Tulane CUSA
112 Rice CUSA
113 Kent State MAC
114 New Mexico State WAC
115 Utah State WAC
116 UL Monroe Sun Belt
117 Florida Atlantic Sun Belt
118 San Jose State WAC
119 Temple Ind