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2008 CFN All-Americans & Top Players - LBs
South Carolina LB Jasper Brinkley
South Carolina LB Jasper Brinkley
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 18, 2008


It's a great year for linebackers, helped by the healthy return of South Carolina LB Jasper Brinkley, but it's also a decent year for top defensive players overall. Check out the CFN All-America linebackers, and all the defensive stars as we highlight the CFN 2008 Defensive All-Americans.

2008 CFN All-Americans

Linebackers

CFN 2008 All-Americans and Top 25 Players
2008 Preview | Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers
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Defense Def. Ends | Def. Tackles | Cornerbacks 
Safeties | Punters | Kickers | Kick Returners

2008 CFN Preseason First Team All-Americans

Preseason Top 25 LBs
1. Rey Maualuga, Sr. USC
2. James Laurinaitis, Sr. Ohio State
3. Scott McKillop, Sr. Pitt
4. Gerald McRath, Jr. So Miss
5. Brian Cushing, Sr. USC
6. Brandon Spikes, Jr. Florida
7. Tyrone McKenzie, Sr. USF
8. Jasper Brinkley, Sr. S Carolina
9. Rico McCoy, Jr. Tennessee

10. Zack Follett, Sr. California
11. Aaron Curry, Sr. Wake Forest
12. Joe Mortensen, Sr. Kansas
13. Clayton Mullins, Sr. Miami Univ.
14. Reed Williams, Sr. West Va

15. Sean Weatherspoon, Jr. Mizzou
16. Derek Nicholson, Sr. Florida St
17. Dannell Ellerbe, Sr. Georgia
18. Dave Philistin, Sr. Maryland
19. Marcus Freeman, Sr. Ohio St
20. Brian Toal, Sr. Boston College
21. Reggie Carter, Jr. UCLA
22. Jonathan Casillas, Sr. Wisc.
23. Joe Pawelek, Jr. Baylor
24. Quin Harris, Sr. Louisiana Tech
25. Maurice Crum Jr. Sr. N Dame

LB James Laurinaitis, Ohio State
Could he be on the list of one of the greatest linebackers of all-time? He could submit his name for the list is he has another season like his previous two. He might not be a freak of athletic nature, but he's always around the ball, he's always making plays, and he has the utmost respect from the rest of his team. Don't blame him for the loss to LSU; he had 19 tackles.

LB Rey Maualuga, USC
At 6-3 and 250 pounds, Maualuga is a human wrecking ball at middle linebacker, coming off his second straight First Team All-Pac-10 season. He had a career-high 79 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and six sacks, but numbers tell only part of the story. Maualuga is an intimidator, whose bone-jarring hits make receivers think twice about crossing the middle and backs step out of bounds to avoid being punished.

2008 CFN Preseason Second Team All-Americans

Scott McKillop, Sr. Pitt
In his debut as the starting middle linebacker, McKillop replaced H.B. Blades about as well possible racking up a nation’s-best 151 tackles, nine tackles for loss, three sacks, and seven passes broken up. A no-brainer on the All-Big East First Team, he’s instinctive, fundamentally flawless, and one of the hardest workers on either side of the ball. Almost as good in pass defense as he is at stopping the run, the 6-2, 240-pounder could be targeting an All-American campaign now that he’s not such a well-kept secret.

Gerald McRath, Jr. Southern Miss
McRath is the next in a long line of Southern Miss linebacking assassins.  The reigning Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year, he had a team-high 139 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks.  At 6-3 and 220 pounds, McRath has the quickness and instincts from the inside of a high draft choice whenever he’s ready to come out.

2008 CFN Honorable Mention All-Americans
(in alphabetical order)

Jasper Brinkley, Sr. South Carolina

The bad news was that Brinkley missed almost all of last year with a bad knee injury, making 21 tackles, two interceptions and a tackle for loss in four games. The good news is that he's back after being given a year of eligibility. Listed at 6-2 and 275 pounds, although he's working on getting a bit lighter, he's one of the nation's best middle linebackers with the ability to get into the backfield on a regular basis and the speed to be all over the field. The former star JUCO transfer missed all of spring ball, but he's expected to be back and ready to roll by the start of the season. He might not be quite the same player, but he'll still be one of the SEC's best if he's at 80%.

Brian Cushing, Sr. USC
From the strongside, Cushing is one of those freakish athletes with outstanding upper body strength and the 4.5 speed to make plays all over the field.  A natural pass rusher at 6-4 and 240 pounds, he’s as scary on the blitz as he is defending the run. He had nagging injuries throughout 2007, so don’t put much stock in his modest numbers, 25 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and a sack.

Zack Follett, Sr. California
The senior will line up at strongside, but can play all three positions, and makes his presence known in a multitude of different ways. A high-energy, high-impact athlete at 6-1 and 238 pounds, Follett has had 12.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in each of the last two seasons to go along with eight career forced fumbles.

Rico McCoy, Jr. Tennessee

The star of the defensive front seven is the 6-1, 215-pound McCoy, a tremendous all-around playmaker who finished second on the team with 106 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss with five broken up passes. Overshadowed by Mayo last year, he was able to do a little bit of everything on the weakside and often cleaned up plenty of messes. He's huge hitter with tremendous speed and toughness. Even though he's an All-America caliber linebacker, he'll be a strong safety at the next level.

Tyrone McKenzie, Sr. USF

McKenzie will be back at strongside unless the coaches feel a need to move him inside.  In his first season removed from Iowa State, the 6-2, 235-pound senior rung up 121 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, and two fumble recoveries, en route to a spot on the All-Big East team.  McKenzie is the next in a growing line of star USF linebackers, a complete package looking for his third straight season with more than 100 stops. 

Brandon Spikes, Jr. Florida

It's salary drive time for Spikes, one of the five best pro linebacking prospects in college football and a special all-around leader for the front seven. The 6-3, 245-pound tackling machine cleaned up everything for the SEC's top run defense with 131 stops and a whopping 16.5 tackles for loss. Always around the ball, he recovered three fumbles and broke up seven passes. Quick like an outside linebacker with the strength of a defensive end, he'll do it all.