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Position Preview (and updates) - Linebacker 


catdaddyp

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Linebacker turned into the strength of the defense in 2023 and the same should be true in 2024.


 

(LB)

Antavious Fish - [Senior, Returning] - NR - Former JUCO. Fish did not have many options coming out of JUCO, but is a physical linebacker that will hit. Such traits fall in line with what coach Tibesar looks for. Fish played in 10 games as a backup in 2022, collected 16 total tackles, and 2 sacks. In 2023, Fish became a full time starter replacing the departed Bubba Arslanian. He finished the season with 94 total tackles (8th in the MAC) and a sack. Fish participated in the 2024 spring game and looks ready for a big year. JUCO FILM * Star Rating Take: (5.4) 2 ️ 

 

Shammond Cooper - [Redshirt Senior, Returning] - (5.7) 3 ️ HS / NR Portal - Former transfer from Illinois. Cooper was originally recruited to play in Lovie Smith’s 4-3 defense and found himself backing up some elite linebacker talent in Bret Bielema’s 3-4 scheme. Cooper became the most effective blitzing linebacker and started 8 of the 11 games he played. Cooper collected 44 total tackles, 2 sacks, and double digit QB pressures. Cooper participated in the 2024 spring game and will again be a rotational starter. HS FILM * Star Rating Take: (5.4) 2 ️ 

 

Bryan McCoy - [Junior, Returning] - (5.3) 2 ️ - Aggressive and hard hitting linebacker. McCoy was thought to have All-MAC potential and reached it in just his sophomore season, making the 3rd team. In 2022, he saw action in 10 games on defense, starting 2, and played on special teams. McCoy would have likely seen even more playing time had Terry not come on so strongly in the last 4 games of 2022. McCoy took on a larger role in 2023, mostly as a WILL linebacker. He played in 11 games, collected 95 total tackles (7th in the MAC), and a sack. McCoy is primed to be one of the best linebackers in the MAC. HS FILM * Star Rating Take: (5.5) 3

 

Gage Summers - [Redshirt Junior, Returning] - NR - JUCO transfer. Summers was under recruited coming out of high school. He is a hard hitter and was a tackling machine at JUCO. He is the type of player that will lay it all on the line and do anything asked of him. Summers played in 1 game on special teams in 2023. Summers participated in the 2024 spring game. JUCO FILMStar Rating Take: TBD.

 

Melvin Spriggs - [Redshirt Freshman, Returning] - (5.3) 2 ️ - Spriggs was mostly lined up on the edge in high school and was very active rushing the passer. He was a late commitment in the early 2023 signing period and needed to add some mass. Spriggs did not play in 2023 and redshirted. Spriggs did not participate in the 2024 spring game. HS FILMStar Rating Take: TBD.

 

Rich Benenge - [Freshman, New] - (5.3) 2 ️ (HS) - Transfer from West Point Prep. Akron was in on Benenge in the 2023 recruiting cycle before he eventually decided to sign with Army “Prep.” Benenge is an explosive linebacker that reads and reacts quickly. He has the makeup to eventually become an All-MAC player and it would not be a surprise to see him land on the two deep this year. Benenge participated in the 2024 spring game. HS FILM *

 

Dahvon Frazier - [Freshman, New] - (5.4) 2 ️ - Frazier played RB, TE, and LB in HS. He is explosive in short space and runs well. Frazier also has an impressive vertical leap and has a knack for knocking the ball loose from the ball carrier. Frazier enrolled post spring and is listed as a DE on the official roster. HUDL FILM *

 

Jason Hocker - [Freshman, New] - (5.4) 2 ️ - Hocker is built in the same vein as Bryan McCoy. He’s an aggressive down hill player who will hit. The linebacker room is deep, so Hocker will probably redshirt this year. Hocker enrolled post spring. HS FILM *

 

Austin Wondolowski - [Redshirt Freshman, Returning] - NR - Walk-on. Did not play in 2023. HS FILM *

 

Danny Nittoli - [Freshman, New] - NR - Walk-on. HS FILM *

 

 

Linebacker play stood out and an argument could be made this was a top 3 unit in the MAC. Tim Tibesar has flipped the room and collected some physical players. McCoy earned All-MAC honors, while Fish was also deserving. Cooper was a rotational starter that developed into an excellent blitzer. Griffin came on towards the end of the season, played well, and then transferred out. This may be the best linebacking corps in the MAC come 2024.


 

 

Scholarship Players:

Bryan McCoy

Antavious Fish

Melvin Spriggs

Gage Summers

Shammond Cooper

Dahvon Frazier

Jason Hocker

Rich Benenge

 

Added:

Dahvon Frazier

Jason Hocker

Rich Benenge

 

Removed:

(5.4) 2 ️ (TP) - LB Jaharon Griffin - TP = Alcorn State

NR - LB Andrew Behm - TP = Southern Illinois

NR - LB Camari Harris (walk-on) - TP = N/A

 

Removed Before 2023 Season:

(5.6) 3 ️ - Jeslord Boateng = TP Louisiana Tech - Star Rating Take: (5.3) 2 ️ 

(5.4) 2 ️ - Tim Terry = Grad. - Star Rating Take: (5.4) 2 ️ 

(5.4) 2 ️ - Ryan McClain = Retired. - Star Rating Take: (5.3) 2 ️ 

(5.2) 2 ️ - Luke Bauer = TP Morehead State - Star Rating Take: (5.2) 2 ️ 

NR - Bubba Arslanian = Grad. - Star Rating Take: (5.6) 3 ️ 

NR - Emmett Hanna = Retired - Walk-on

 

Before 2022 season:

(5.4) 2 ️ - Juan Jarrett = Retired. - (5.2) 2 ️ 

(5.2) 2 ️ - Reggie Corner = Retired. - (5.2) 2 ️ 

NR - Yveny Petithomme = Retired. - (5.2) 2 ️ 

NR - Connor Francz = TP Walsh (DII) - (5.2) 2 ️ 

NR - Zach DiLauro - Walk-on

NR - Myles Carter - Walk-on

NR - Kyle Bischof - (Walsh) - Walk-on

NR - Nicholas Mayle - Walk-on

NR - Jake Miller - (Slippery Rock) - Walk-on

NR - Brandon Bischof - (Slippery Rock) - Walk-on

Edited by catdaddyp
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12 hours ago, catdaddyp said:

I’m still going off the assumption we’ll be running the 3-4 defense this year. If that’s the case, getting the best players in the right positions is paramount. Last year, we often struggled with outside contain. Our edge players had a difficult time forcing the run back inside, which left us vulnerable to sweeps, outside zones, etc. We also collected the least amount of sacks in the MAC last year. If there is more size, strength, and athleticism on the edge, last year’s issues should be minimized. 

 

 

Bubba Arslanian - (Redshirt Senior, Returning) - Type of physical linebacker that almost every program would like to have on their team. He may not possess elite physical characteristics, but he diagnoses the play quickly, sheds blocks effectively, and is a tackling machine. Arslanian is a perfect fit at inside linebacker.

 

Brandon Bischof - (Senior, Returning) - Inside linebacker with natural football instincts. He isn’t fast, but makes up for that with leaping ability, hand-eye coordination, and strength. Bischof should provide depth and give minutes at inside linebacker.

 

Reggie Corner - (Redshirt Junior, Returning) - Physical, but undersized linebacker. He doesn’t possess the frame to be an outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense. Corner will need to add more mass to hold up a full season and eventually push for playing time at inside linebacker. 

 

Zach DiLauro - (Redshirt Junior, Returning) - Physical inside linebacker. He’s willing to take on lead blocks so teammates can make a play. DiLauro may provide depth and contribute on special teams.

 

Emmett Hanna - (Redshirt Freshman, New) - Transfer from Boston College. Played in the secondary in high school. He has some speed and could be developed into an outside linebacker over time. Hanna would be an excellent special teams addition.

 

Camari Harris - (Redshirt Sophomore, Returning) - Linebacker with some agility and long arms. He could add mass and provide depth at outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense.

 

Jake Miller -  (Sophomore, Returning) - Physical inside linebacker. He’s a sure tackler and has a frame to add more mass. Should provide depth. 

 

 

(ILB)

Luke Bauer - (Sophomore, Returning) - Physical inside linebacker. He doesn’t have great speed but he does have a nose for the ball and is relentless in pursuit. 

 

Andrew Behm - (Sophomore, Returning) - Former JUCO. Physical inside linebacker that diagnoses the play and gets there in a hurry. When he hits, the offensive player feels it. He may see some starter minutes this year as he’ll likely sit as the top backup at the end of spring.

 

Kyle Bischof - (Sophomore, Returning) - Physical inside linebacker. Strong tackler who squares up well. Could contribute to special teams.

 

Jeslord Boateng - (Redshirt Junior, Returning) - Former Michigan State transfer. Boateng is an inside linebacker that has the ability to drop into coverage and rush the passer. He’s a solid tackler and changes directions well enough. He took himself out of some plays last year, but should become better at reading his keys with another year of experience.

 

Myles Carter - (Sophomore, Returning) - Very physical inside linebacker. He’s a load coming downhill and will explode into the ball carrier or take out a lead blocker. Perfect addition for special teams.

 

Bryan McCoy - (Freshman, New) - Aggressive, hard hitting, inside linebacker. McCoy’s strength is in the run game. He quickly diagnoses where the ball is going and gets there in a hurry. When chasing down the play, he’s explosive upon tackling the ball carrier. However, his ability to drop into coverage and defend the pass is questionable and will need improving.

 

 

(OLB)

Conner Francz - (Sophomore, Returning) - Strong linebacker with a good frame. He’d probably be a better fit at defensive end in the 3-4 scheme. Francz has some agility and moves well in a short amount of space.

 

Juan Jarrett - (Sophomore, Returning) - Former high school safety. Jarrett has long arms and moves really well in space for an outside linebacker. He’ll need to bulk up to withstand the run game throughout a full season, but he brings plenty of talent. He should see starting minutes before he graduates.

 

Nicholas Mayle - (Sophomore, Returning) - Physical outside linebacker. He isn’t fast, but he has good feet and readjusts well in space. Mayle could slide down to defensive end if needed. 

 

Ryan McClain - (Senior, Returning) - Former JUCO. McClain may be a better fit at defensive end as his strength is firing off as a down lineman. He quickly bursts out of his stance and has a high motor with relentless pursuit. As an outside linebacker, he has the size and strength to hold the edge in the 3-4 defense.

 

Yveny Petithomme - (Redshirt Junior, Returning) - Most comfortable as a down lineman. He has long arms and can fire off quickly. Not sure if he has the ability to be successful as a linebacker. His best fit would probably be to bulk up and play defensive end or as a quicker nose tackle. 

 

Julian Richardson - Outside linebacker that has some pass rush ability and can play in space. Adding some more mass to his frame would help him hold the edge. Richardson has long arms and can redirect his angles well.

 

Corey Thomas Jr. - (Junior, Returning) - Former high school safety. Thomas has the ideal frame to be an outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. He’s tall, long, and agile. He’ll need to continue to add on mass, but he should see plenty of playing time as he has some pass rush ability, can drop into space, and has natural ball skills.

 

Tim Terry - (Senior, New) - Senior transfer from Buffalo. Terry was a multi-year starter at Buffalo and will look to claim a starting spot at Akron to close out his career.  Having a player with Terry’s experience can only help the LB corp.


 

 

The outside linebackers should be some of the most explosive athletes on the team. They’ll be asked to generate pass rush, hold up against the run, and drop in coverage. From what I’ve seen to date, I think Curtis Fann (currently listed as a DL) would be the best fit at strong side outside linebacker and a combination of Corey Thomas and Julian Richardson at the weak side outside linebacker. 

 

The inside linebackers need to be cerebral players and excellent tacklers. They’ll be asked to signal in the defensive calls, read the blocks/keys, and then make the play. If the defensive line is doing their job, the inside backers should be running free the majority of the time. To this point, I think the best two inside linebackers are Bubba Arslanian and Jeslord Boateng. Andrew Behm is most likely the top backup, but who fills in from there? Perhaps Reggie Corner in situational setups? Tim Terry should also find his way on the field somewhere.

 

There are plenty of non-scholarship linebackers that should provide help on special teams. Our kickoff coverage ought to be one of the better ones in the MAC, just going off the amount of linebackers and defensive backs that will be available.

 

 

Best guess as to who is on scholarship:

Luke Bauer

Jeslord Boateng

Juan Jarrett

Corey Thomas

Julian Richardson 

Reggie Corner

Bubba Arslanian

Bryan McCoy

Tim Terry

Ryan McClain

 

 

Let me know what I may have missed!

This is the first analysis that I think you have missed the boat.  I hope we stay in the 4-3 and not a 3-4 defensive scheme.  For one, I have never been a 3-4 fan, and I do not think we have the linebackers to run a 3-4 defense.  We can always do a hybrid defense and mix up the schemes, which is what all successful teams do.

 

As for the talent, Akron is lacking at this positions.  We have Bubba who is excellent but undersized.  His effort and success is relentless and he makes plays all over the field.  Boateng is another stud linebacker who played great last year.  

Terry is a transfer from Buffalo.  Only made 2 starts last year for Buffalo, so I would not expect much. 

B. Bischof - has played well the last 2 years.  I hope for his success.  I spent my freshman year in the same floor in the same dorm as his dad.  Great guy.  I wish him and his whole family total success.  

Behm played well last year, but he is not listed as a scholarship player.  I do not see a lot of other contributing linebackers.  I think we have the opportunity to shed a bunch of scholarships from these positions who are not legitimate D1 talent..  

In Joe We Trust!!!

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12 hours ago, bigjim said:

This is the first analysis that I think you have missed the boat.  I hope we stay in the 4-3 and not a 3-4 defensive scheme.  For one, I have never been a 3-4 fan, and I do not think we have the linebackers to run a 3-4 defense.  We can always do a hybrid defense and mix up the schemes, which is what all successful teams do.

 

As for the talent, Akron is lacking at this positions.  We have Bubba who is excellent but undersized.  His effort and success is relentless and he makes plays all over the field.  Boateng is another stud linebacker who played great last year.  

Terry is a transfer from Buffalo.  Only made 2 starts last year for Buffalo, so I would not expect much. 

B. Bischof - has played well the last 2 years.  I hope for his success.  I spent my freshman year in the same floor in the same dorm as his dad.  Great guy.  I wish him and his whole family total success.  

Behm played well last year, but he is not listed as a scholarship player.  I do not see a lot of other contributing linebackers.  I think we have the opportunity to shed a bunch of scholarships from these positions who are not legitimate D1 talent..  

In Joe We Trust!!!

Appreciate the feedback. The reasons I think we’ll run the 3-4 defense is due to what our defensive coordinator ran in the past, as well as the types of players we recruited this year. For example, Harper comes from a 3-3-5 defense and D. Robinson is a fit for DE in the 3-4. If Bubba and Jeslord are the strength of our LBs, wouldn’t we want them running free as much as possible? All defenses have to be flexible within their own scheme to match against different offenses. I’m certainly not saying we stay in a base 3-4 (or any other defense) if we can’t matchup. If a team is in spread, different personnel would be used as a front 7 player - or 2 - would be replaced by DB(s).

 

Unfortunately, none of us know for sure what we’ll be running due to the limited spring ball coverage. What we do know is the 2021 defense was last against the run, last in defensive efficiency, and last in sacks in MAC play. Regardless of where the current roster is best suited personnel wise, changes need to be made. I don’t think we’ll see the same scheme ran as last year as the coaching staff will continue to flip this roster and bring in players that they deem fit best within the schemes being run.

 

Like you mentioned, it’s a good time to shed some players and I’m sure we’ll see some of that after spring - maybe even before spring ball ends.There is some talent on this roster, but we are hurting in quality depth compared to our peers. The tricky part is where we stand numbers wise to the 85 scholarship limit. I don’t know what the NCAA will do next year, but if we go back to the 25 scholarship offer limit per class, we don’t want to lose too many scholarship players at once as we’d then have to fill those spots with walk-ones or rely heavily on blue-shirting.

 

On a side note, Terry started 9 games in 2019 before being replaced by a Power 5 transfer. He also started a handful of games thereafter. That’s what I meant by multi-year starter. How much he’ll play here is yet to be determined, but he’ll certainly have an opportunity to prove himself with this new coaching staff.

Edited by catdaddyp
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7 hours ago, catdaddyp said:

Appreciate the feedback. The reasons I think we’ll run the 3-4 defense is due to what our defensive coordinator ran in the past, as well as the types of players we recruited this year. For example, Harper comes from a 3-3-5 defense and D. Robinson is a fit for DE in the 3-4. If Bubba and Jeslord are the strength of our LBs, wouldn’t we want them running free as much as possible? All defenses have to be flexible within their own scheme to match against different offenses. I’m certainly not saying we stay in a base 3-4 (or any other defense) if we can’t matchup. If a team is in spread, different personnel would be used as a front 7 player - or 2 - would be replaced by DB(s).

 

Unfortunately, none of us know for sure what we’ll be running due to the limited spring ball coverage. What we do know is the 2021 defense was last against the run, last in defensive efficiency, and last in sacks in MAC play. Regardless of where the current roster is best suited personnel wise, changes need to be made. I don’t think we’ll see the same scheme ran as last year as the coaching staff will continue to flip this roster and bring in players that they deem fit best within the schemes being run.

 

Like you mentioned, it’s a good time to shed some players and I’m sure we’ll see some of that after spring - maybe even before spring ball ends.There is some talent on this roster, but we are hurting in quality depth compared to our peers. The tricky part is where we stand numbers wise to the 85 scholarship limit. I don’t know what the NCAA will do next year, but if we go back to the 25 scholarship offer limit per class, we don’t want to lose too many scholarship players at once as we’d then have to fill those spots with walk-ones or rely heavily on blue-shirting.

 

On a side note, Terry started 9 games in 2019 before being replaced by a Power 5 transfer. He also started a handful of games thereafter. That’s what I meant by multi-year starter. How much he’ll play here is yet to be determined, but he’ll certainly have an opportunity to prove himself with this new coaching staff.

Good discussion.  I did not research the defensive alignment that our current DC uses, so I will concede.  But I do not think we have the personnel to run a 3-4.  With the DL transfer additions and Murphy recruit, along with the DL returnees of Fann, Hawkins, Proffitt, Sy, Wade, and Wilson, we will have some depth and allow for a 4 man rotation.  Last year, the returnees were all freshmen or sophomores.  Adding time in the weight room and good coaching, the DL should drastically improve.  This along with Bubbas return will help tremendously against the run.  I also believe a 4-3 help free up the linebackers.  

 

Now, back to the Linebackers.  I think the talent is quite weak after Bubba and Boateng, I do not want to have two sub-par linebackers on the field to start, yet alone part of the rotation.  Again, Terry is being touted as a great player, but he did not start at a MAC school.  So, when I look at the talent, we should run a 4-3.  

 

Regarding the number of scholarships, I do not want non-D1 players on the roster.  I would rather have 60 D1 talent on the roster than 85 of which 25 are not D1 talent.  If you do the math, at 25 scholarships per year, that is 100 over a 4 year period, and 125 over 5 years, considering red-shirting.  This staff could make up the difference in a couple of years.  There are 18 seniors on the roster.  I do not know how many are on scholarship, but I would guess that most are on a scholly.  These players completing their eligibility alone with shedding scholarships will allow the current coaching staff to add 25 players per year for the next few seasons.

In Joe We Trust!!!

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2 hours ago, bigjim said:

Good discussion.  I did not research the defensive alignment that our current DC uses, so I will concede.  But I do not think we have the personnel to run a 3-4.  With the DL transfer additions and Murphy recruit, along with the DL returnees of Fann, Hawkins, Proffitt, Sy, Wade, and Wilson, we will have some depth and allow for a 4 man rotation.  Last year, the returnees were all freshmen or sophomores.  Adding time in the weight room and good coaching, the DL should drastically improve.  This along with Bubbas return will help tremendously against the run.  I also believe a 4-3 help free up the linebackers.  

 

Now, back to the Linebackers.  I think the talent is quite weak after Bubba and Boateng, I do not want to have two sub-par linebackers on the field to start, yet alone part of the rotation.  Again, Terry is being touted as a great player, but he did not start at a MAC school.  So, when I look at the talent, we should run a 4-3.  

 

Regarding the number of scholarships, I do not want non-D1 players on the roster.  I would rather have 60 D1 talent on the roster than 85 of which 25 are not D1 talent.  If you do the math, at 25 scholarships per year, that is 100 over a 4 year period, and 125 over 5 years, considering red-shirting.  This staff could make up the difference in a couple of years.  There are 18 seniors on the roster.  I do not know how many are on scholarship, but I would guess that most are on a scholly.  These players completing their eligibility alone with shedding scholarships will allow the current coaching staff to add 25 players per year for the next few seasons.

In Joe We Trust!!!

If we were going with 4 down linemen, I’d prefer we play a 4-2-5 as opposed to a 4-3. I agree our inside linebacker depth isn’t where it should be. If we had the horses to get pressure and stop the run with 4 down linemen, I’d be all about the 4-3, but I don’t think we currently do. In any case, the coaching staff isn’t asking my opinion, so it remains to be seen what we come out in.

 

In my opinion, the 25 scholarship a year rule needs to be done away with. In general, about 1/3 of the 25 signees don’t pan  out - whether that’s due to grades, attitude/effort/immaturity, poor fit, poor evaluation by the coaches, or whatever other reason. So the math doesn’t work out like it should. Instead of having 100 scholarship players in 4 years, its more like 65-70. That’s why many coaches push for more walk-on spots (decided by the school), so those scholarship players that don’t work out can be replaced by a walk-on who can get the job done. You see this happen alot on teams that have depth issues. The best example I’ve seen of this is Jaylen Foster from South Carolina going from walk-on to All-American. That’s an extreme example, but you get my point.
 

I’d rather the NCAA allow any number of scholarships to be given each year that’ll get to the 85 limit. NCAA tried to prevent coaches from running players off with the 25 limit, but now that the transfer portal has changed the landscape, why not do away with the 25 limit too?

Edited by catdaddyp
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  • 3 weeks later...
On 4/7/2022 at 8:52 AM, catdaddyp said:

Last year, we often struggled with outside contain. Our edge players had a difficult time forcing the run back inside, which left us vulnerable to sweeps, outside zones, etc. We also collected the least amount of sacks in the MAC last year. If there is more size, strength, and athleticism on the edge, last year’s issues should be minimized. 


 

(LB)

Bubba Arslanian - (Redshirt Senior, Returning) - Type of physical linebacker that almost every program would like to have on their team. He may not possess elite physical characteristics, but he diagnoses the play quickly, sheds blocks effectively, and is a tackling machine. Arslanian is a perfect fit at inside linebacker.

 

Reggie Corner - (Redshirt Junior, Returning) - Physical, but undersized linebacker. He would be best suited at the “WILL” spot and could also be utilized in a “Nickel” role. His strength is in coverage and he’s not afraid to come down and hit.

 

Zach DiLauro - (Redshirt Junior, Returning) - Physical inside linebacker. He’s willing to take on lead blocks so teammates can make a play. DiLauro may provide depth and contribute on special teams.

 

Emmett Hanna - (Redshirt Freshman, New) - Transfer from Boston College. Played in the secondary in high school. He has some speed and could be developed into an outside linebacker over time. Hanna would be an excellent special teams addition.

 

Camari Harris - (Redshirt Sophomore, Returning) - Linebacker with some agility and long arms. He could add mass and provide depth at outside linebacker.

 

Tim Terry - (Senior, New) - Senior transfer from Buffalo. Terry was a part-time, multi-year starter at Buffalo and will look to claim a starting spot at Akron to close out his career.  Having a player with Terry’s experience can only help the LB corp.

 

Bryan McCoy - (Freshman, New) - Aggressive, hard hitting, inside linebacker. McCoy’s strength is in the run game. He quickly diagnoses where the ball is going and gets there in a hurry. When chasing down the play, he’s explosive upon tackling the ball carrier. However, his ability to drop into coverage and defend the pass is questionable and will need improving.

 

 

(ILB)

Luke Bauer - (Sophomore, Returning) - Physical inside linebacker. He doesn’t have great speed but he does have a nose for the ball and is relentless in pursuit. 

 

Andrew Behm - (Sophomore, Returning) - Former JUCO. Physical inside linebacker that diagnoses the play and gets there in a hurry. When he hits, the offensive player feels it. He may see some starter minutes this year as he’ll likely sit as the top backup at the end of spring.

 

Jeslord Boateng - (Redshirt Junior, Returning) - Former Michigan State transfer. Boateng is an inside linebacker that has the ability to drop into coverage and rush the passer. He’s a solid tackler and changes directions well enough. He took himself out of some plays last year, but should become better at reading his keys with another year of experience.

 

 

(OLB)

Juan Jarrett - (Sophomore, Returning) - Former high school safety. Jarrett has long arms and moves really well in space for an outside linebacker. He’ll need to bulk up to withstand the run game throughout a full season, but he brings plenty of talent. He should see starting minutes before he graduates.

 

Ryan McClain - (Senior, Returning) - Former JUCO. McClain may be a better fit at defensive end as his strength is firing off as a down lineman. He quickly bursts out of his stance and has a high motor with relentless pursuit. As an outside linebacker, he has the size and strength to hold the edge. McClain should be a “SAM” and see starting minutes. He may be the best equipped for what the new staff seems to be requiring of the OLBs when they are brought down as defensive ends.

 

Julian Richardson - (Junior, Returning) - Outside linebacker that has some pass rush ability and can play in space. Adding some more mass to his frame would help him hold the edge. Richardson has long arms and can redirect his angles well.

 

Corey Thomas Jr. - (Junior, Returning) - Former high school safety. Thomas is tall, long, and agile. He’ll need to continue to add on mass, but he should see plenty of playing time as he has some pass rush ability, can drop into space, and has natural ball skills.

 

 

According to the updated roster, this group has been purged of many of the former walk-ons who were not likely to provide more than practice bodies and depth on special teams. There is some talent, but another solid transfer or two would be welcome.

 

 

 

Best guess as to who is on scholarship:

Luke Bauer

Jeslord Boateng

Juan Jarrett

Corey Thomas

Julian Richardson 

Reggie Corner

Bubba Arslanian

Bryan McCoy

Tim Terry

Ryan McClain

 

 

Edit:

Removed Yveny Petithomme

Removed Myles Carter

Removed Kyle Bischof

Removed Nicholas Mayle

Removed Jake Miller

Removed Conner Francz

Removed Brandon Bischof

Bump for updates.

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I'm rather excited about the potential of our linebacking crew.

 

Bubba - best LB in the MAC (I may be just a bit biased)

Tim Terry - brings additional senior leadership from a successful Buffalo program

Jeslord Boateng - a solid MAC 2nd-Team, or Honorable Mention-type of talent

Andrew Behm - who wasn't impressed with how this guy looked as a true freshman filling in for an injured Bubba last season?

Julian Richardson - as was mentioned in another thread, we didn't send this guy to MAC Media Day for nothing

Corey Thomas Jr. - was one of the top HS players in PA his senior season; hope he's physical enough for LB

Ryan McClain - a horse. Is he quick enough for a stand-up LB position?

Bryan McCoy - only going to be a true freshman, but this guy was a heat seeking missile in HS who can already bench something like 400 lbs. 😅

Luke Bauer - always pull for the local products. Built like a brick sh!thouse. Hope he's fast enough for this level.

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28 minutes ago, catdaddyp said:

Senior “OLB” Ryan McClain is no longer listed on the roster. He did not see the field in 2022. Corey Thomas is still listed as “OLB” but I don’t know if that’s accurate.

I thought Ryan McClain looked pretty good two years ago. I was disappointed when he did absolutely nothing last year.

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  • catdaddyp changed the title to Position Preview (and updates) - Linebacker 


Former walk-on Emmett Harris is missing from this graphic. Not sure if that’s because he missed spring ball or if he is no longer with the team.

 

I’ve updated the position and I’m really excited to see them in action. If they are able to build on what was displayed at the spring game, this defense is going to give opposing teams issues in 2023. Tim Tibesar has collected a physical and athletic group of linebackers.

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7 minutes ago, Let'sGoZips94 said:

@catdaddyp Do you think Bubba has a shot at the NFL - even if it's practice squad?

I hope somebody gives him a shot. My fear is he will not test well and that will be frowned upon. His game speed is much faster than what a lot of players would test at because he reads and reacts so quickly. If that makes sense? It’s what separates many incoming freshman and younger players from the veterans. The vets can typically play faster because they are more comfortable and react quicker.

 

I forgot to add his size would be a disadvantage as well. 5’10” 215 isn’t exactly what most pro teams are looking for. Assuming that’s his actual size at this point.

Edited by catdaddyp
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