2009 CFN All-Americans & Top Players - LBs
Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon
CFN 2009 All-Americans and Top 25 Players - Linebackers
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2009 1st Team All-Americans
Brandon Spikes, Sr., Florida
In a total shocker, he chose to come back for his senior season rather than be a sure-thing top 15 pick in the NFL Draft after making 93 tackles with eight tackles for loss, two sacks, and four interceptions. At 6-3 and 258 pounds he has prototype size, tremendous burst and quickness, and the smarts to always be in the right position. He can play on the outside or could be used as a smallish, pass rushing end, but he's the man in the middle who cleans everything up that the rest of the linebacking corps doesn't get to. Beyond all the tools, he's the ultimate leader. While everyone can't stop writing love letters about how Tim Tebow wills his team to wins and about what kind of a leader he is, Spikes does every bit as much for the defense. Florida might be Tebow's team, but this is sure as shoot Spikes' defense.
Sean Weatherspoon, Sr. Missouri
If Weatherspoon isn't the best linebacker in college football, he's in the discussion. Steady, consistent, and with huge hitting ability, he followed up a 130-tackle season with 155 stops, five sacks, 18.5 tackles for loss and three interceptions. At 6-2 and 245 pounds, the senior is a big weakside defender who's a guided missile when he gets a bead on a ball-carrier and has unlimited range in both pass coverage and against the run. A first-team All-Big 12 star and Bednarik Award semifinalist, he's the unquestioned leader and star of a young but talented defense that will funnel everything his way. Not just a highlight reel playmaker, "Spoon" brings it game in and game out making 20 tackles against Buffalo and 17 against Northwestern in the Alamo Bowl. While he's not needed as a pass rusher, he can get to the quarterback and provide pressure when he has to.
2009 2nd Team
1. Brandon Spikes, Sr. Florida
2. Sean Weatherspoon, Sr. Missouri
3. Navorro Bowman, Jr. Penn State
4. Greg Jones, Jr. Michigan State
5. Rolando McClain, Jr. Alabama
6. Eric Norwood, Sr. South Carolina,
7. Sean Lee, Sr. Penn State
8. Quan Sturdivant, Jr. North Carolina
9. Rennie Curran, Jr. Georgia
10. Joe Pawelek, Sr. Baylor
11. Bruce Carter, Jr. North Carolina
12. Boris Lee, Sr. Troy
13. Reed Williams, Sr. West Virginia
14. Rico McCoy, Sr. Tennessee
15. Stevenson Sylvester, Sr. Utah
16. Reggie Carter, Sr. UCLA
17. Ryan Reynolds, Sr. Oklahoma
18. Micah Johnson, Sr. Kentucky
19. Obi Ezah, Jr. Michigan
20. Travis Lewis, Soph. Oklahoma
21. Alex Wujciak, Jr. Maryland
22. Bear Woods, Sr. Troy
23. Cardia Jackson, Sr. ULM
24. Caleb Bostic, Sr. Miami Univ.
25. Dekoda Watson, Sr, Florida State
Navorro Bowman, Jr., Penn State
All Bowman did after being suspended from spring ball last year was step into the starting lineup in game three and finish with a team-leading 106 tackles with four sacks, five broken up passes, and 16.5 tackles for loss. The fastest of the linebacker options, the 6-1, 230-pounder was a Maryland Defensive Player of the Year in high school, and he has lived up to his potential and then some. He'll be used in a variety of ways working both as a pass rusher and a run stopper as he'll once again get to use his unlimited range to make things happen all over the field.
Greg Jones, Jr., Michigan State
It’s time for Jones to become a bigger star. One of the nation’s best linebackers, the 6-1, 222-pound junior led the team with 127 tackles last year with two sacks and 14 tackles for loss seeing time on the strongside and in the middle. He wasn’t expected to become a terror in the backfield, but that’s what he was as he used his great speed and range to make tackles all over the place. Now he’s in for a huge junior season after being one of the stars on the defense for the last two seasons. While he doesn’t do much against the pass, that won’t be his job in the middle after moving over from the outside. He’ll make every play he can chase down.
Rennie Curran, Jr., Georgia
Forget about a sophomore slump for Curran, a 5-11, 222-pound tackling machine who followed up a 93-tackle first season with a team-leading 115-stop 2008 campaign. While he's not all that big, he's extremely tough and he doesn't miss an open-field stop. One of the team's best pass rushers, with three sacks and ten tackles for loss, he's all over the field and looks like he's shot out of a cannon when sent into the backfield. While he could stand to do more in pass coverage, that's nitpicking for the SEC's leading returning tackler.
Sean Lee, Sr., Penn State
So where will he play and how is his knee? Lee would've been on everyone's All-America list going into last season before he tore up his knee in preseason practices. A superstar on the outside, he made 228 tackles in two years going into last season, and now he'll likely move into the middle where he should be back to form. At 6-2 and 236 pounds he has excellent size and he's back to form. There isn't any major issue considering the injury happened over a year ago and has time to heal, so now he'll get a chance to turn it loose and be on the short list for the Butkus Award.
Rolando McClain, Jr., Alabama
A steadying force in the linebacking corps
in the beginning of last year, the 6-4, 249-pound junior turned out to be a
special all-star leading the team with 95 tackles with three sacks and 12
tackles for loss in the middle. Very tough, very fast, and one of the team's
surest tacklers, he has started to live up to his immense prep hype and now
should be on the short list all All-America linebackers. Not only is he tough
against the run, and with great range, but he's solid when the ball is in the
air with eight broken up passes.
Eric Norwood, Sr., South Carolina
Norwood is about to become a college football household name. Overshadowed by Jasper Brinkley, at least as far as recognition on a national scale, Norwood came up with the better year finishing second on the team with 75 tackles with nine sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. Used as pass rusher to disrupt things in the backfield, and also the team's most consistent run stopper, he can do it all. While his weight has fluctuated, he's a fast 6-1, 252 pounds and should add big numbers to his school-record tackle-for-loss total of 43. He's not going to do anything against the pass, but that's not his job on the weakside.
Joe Pawelek, Sr. Baylor
Pawelek isn't all that fast and he’s not all that athletic, but he’s a tackling machine who eats up everything that comes his way with 313 tackles in three years including a 128-stop junior campaign. There was one major difference in his play in the middle last year; he got better against the pass. While he’s not going to stay with too many backs in pass patterns, he knows where to be and he has the instincts to sniff out plays before they happen, as evidenced by his six interceptions. Extremely smart, he always takes the right angles. At 6-2 and 240 pounds, he has no problems coming up with the big hits and he holds up well against the run. While he’s not going to be used much as a pass rusher, he can get into the backfield when asked.
Quan Sturdivant, Jr., North Carolina
The graduation of steady Mark Paschal has forced the 6-2, 235-pound Sturdivant to shift from
weakside to middle linebacker for the upcoming season. He’s coming off a
breakout year that was highlighted by a team-best 122 tackles, 5.5
tackles for loss, two sacks, and two interceptions. Blessed with
outstanding range and sideline-to-sideline speed, the former star
quarterback is ready to become one of the ACC’s most productive