- Scooby Wright – Arizona (6-1, 246) Windsor, California. Jr: Not the best Linebacker in the country as far as overall talent and he will not be the first linebacker picked by the NFL. But, this guy is one of the more productive Linebackers in the history of the game. Wright one nearly every award available last season including the Lombardi, the Bednarik, and the Nagurski. Wright was a one man defense last season while leading the nation in tackles, tackles for loss and fumbles forced. Wright had 163 tackles with an astounding 29 for loss. He also forced an impressive 6 fumbles. Wright was also third in the nation in Quarterback sacks
behind Washington’s Hau’oli Kikaha and Utah’s Nate Orchard with 14.
- Reggie Ragland – Alabama (6-2, 254) Madison, Alabama. Sr: Big, strong, fast, hard hitting Linebacker. Alabama’s top tackler in 2014 was the now departed Landon Collins a super Safety who declared for the NFL. But, Ragland was right behind him with 93 total tackles. I thought Mississippi State’s Bernardrick McKinney was the best Inside Linebacker last season and I think that Ragland is the best this season. Ragland had 10.5 tackles for loss with 1.5 Quarterback sacks. He also broke up 3 passes, hurried the Quarterback and forced a fumble. Ragland is just a tough Linebacker and should be a force this year for the Crimson Tide as the SEC tries to fight back and regain it’s reputation as the best conference in football.
- Joshua Perry – Ohio State (6-4, 252) Galena, Ohio. Sr: Huge Linebacker like the ESPN talking heads love to say is SEC style and he pretty much fits that description. He is big, strong and dominating and led his defense and his team to a national title in 2014. Perry also led the Buckeyes in tackles with 124 total on the year. He was especially tough against Penn State when he had 18 and Indiana with 14. He also had 3 tackles for loss against the Hoosiers. Perry broke up 2 passes and forced a fumble as he was all over the field for the Buckeyes. The Buckeyes Linebacker group will be even tougher next season with the addition of Middle
Linebacker Raekwon McMillan into the starting lineup joining Perry and Darron Lee. I don’t really expect Ohio State to repeat as champions, but they will be very tough to beat.
- Reggie Northrup – Florida State (6-1, 220) Jacksonville, Florida. Sr: Swift Linebacker that led the Seminoles in tackles last season with 122 tackles with 4 tackles for loss and 1 Quarterback sack. Northrup is slightly undersized for a Middle Linebacker, but makes up for the lack of size with speed. 2014 was his first year as a starter and he recorded more tackles than anyone at Florida State since 2002 when Kendyll Pope had 133. Northrup forced a fumble and returned another fumble for a 31 yard Touchdown. He had his best games against Louisville and rival Miami. Northrup tore his ACL against Oregon in the Rose Bowl, so he may not make it back for the 2015 season. But, if he does, expect him to be one of the top Linebackers.
- Lorenzo Carter – Georgia (6-6, 237) Norcross, Georgia. Soph: Tall, rangy, fast Linebacker that the coaching staff brought along slowly which explains his relatively low number of tackles and sacks. Carter was one of the most highly recruited players in the country coming out of Norcross last season and quickly proved he was worthy of that ranking. Carter totaled 41 tackles in 2014 with 7 for loss and 4.5 Quarterback sacks. He also hurried the Quarterback another 11 times. Lorenzo Carter has the size and the speed to be a really high NFL Pick when he decides to come out after the 2016 season. Against the Kentucky Wildcats, he had 9 tackles
with 3.5 for loss and 2.5 Quarterback sacks. Expect more games like that out of Carter over the next couple of seasons.
- Myles Jack – UCLA (6-1, 232) Bellevue, Washington, Jr: Jack is an incredible athlete that was honored as the freshman of the year on both offense and defense. He’s a great Running Back or Linebacker. Jack played less offense in 2014 because his services were more needed on defense. He still got to run the ball for 113 yards and catch a pass for 8 yards. On defense he was second on the team in tackles with 87 total and 8 of those for loss. Because of his athleticism, Jack is great in pass coverage as well as against the run. If Myles Jack wasn’t so valuable at Linebacker for the Bruins, he could be one of the nation’s better power runners. He’s a big athlete with really good speed.
- Kentrell Brothers – Missouri (6-1, 240) Guthrie, Oklahoma. Sr: Top tackler on a very solid defense. Brothers led them with 122 total tackles. He had 5 tackles for loss, a Quarterback sack and 3 fumbles forced. He was named 2nd team All SEC after last season and should easily make 1st team in 2015. His best game came against Alabama in the SEC championship game where he registered 13 total tackles. Missouri’s defense came on strong at the end of last season and Brothers was a leader in that as well Markus Golden and Shane Ray.
- Josh Forrest – Kentucky (6-3, 236) Paducah, Kentucky. Sr: The former Wide Receiver Forrest makes plays in a hurry. He led the Wildcat defense a year ago with 110 total tackles with 8.5 for loss and 1 Quarterback sack. He also had 2 Interceptions with 1 of those being returned for a Touchdown. The Wildcats got blown out by rival Tennessee last year, but Forrest was
incredible in that game with 20 tackles. Forrest is still a bit rough, but I love his potential and size and speed.
- Steve Longa – Rutgers (6-1, 225) Saddle Brook, New Jersey. Jr: Longa played Middle Linebacker in 2013 and was a freshman All American. He was moved to Weakside Linebacker as a sophomore and led the team in tackles. He totaled 102 tackles with 4.5 for loss and a couple of Quarterback sacks. He was a reliable defender in every game for the Scarlet Knights, but played his best against Michigan State, Indiana and Nebraska.
- Blake Martinez – Stanford (6-2, 247) Tuscon, Arizona. Sr: Stanford plays tough, hard nosed defense and I love the guys that play at Linebacker. Martinez is another that is big, strong, tough and can run. Martinez led his team in tackles with 101. He had 7 tackles for loss and 4.5 Quarterback sacks. Martinez picked off 3 passes, broke up 4 passes, hurried the Quarterback and he impressively forced 2 fumbles.
- Darron Lee – Ohio State (6-2, 228) New Albany, Ohio. Soph: Alabama finished at the top of the 2013 recruiting rankings and Florida was 2nd, but there’s no way either of those classes are better than the Ohio State class. Darron Lee was a 3 star recruit in a class that included Eli Apple, Jalin Marshall, Joey Bosa, Vonn Bell, Dontre Wilson, Ezekiel Elliott and JT Barrett. This class was huge in the national title run by the Buckeyes. Lee played 6 plays in 2013 before injured and took a redshirt. As a redshirt freshman Lee had 81 total tackles with 16.5 for loss and 7.5 Quarterback sacks. He also picked off 2 passes and had 2 fumble returns each for Touchdowns. Darron Lee was a play maker for the Buckeyes and a large part of their success in 2014.
- Antonio Morrison – Florida (6-1, 220) Bellwood, Illinois, Sr: The Gators have struggled the last couple of years, but the problems weren’t with the defense. Morrison was the defense’s leading tackler with 101 total and 6 of those for loss and a Quarterback sack. He also had 1
Interception. Morrison played particularly well against South Carolina with 16 tackles and against Georgia when he had 15. Not the biggest Linebacker, but plays on the Weakside, although he could move inside for his senior season with the new coaching staff. A lot of the SEC’s best players come from Big 10 country.
- Paul Davis – Georgia Tech (5-11, 218) Cairo, Georgia. Jr: Slightly undersized Linebacker but Georgia Tech’s leading tackler. Georgia Tech’s defense struggled early last season but did improve as the season wore on. Davis finished with 119 total tackles with 8.5 for loss and 4 Quarterback sacks. Davis also forced 3 fumbles and picked off a pass which he returned 41 yards for a Touchdown. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets were one of the better teams in the nation by the end of last season and they should be good again this season with Davis leading the defense and Quarterback Justin Thomas leading the offense. Player with a lot of heart.
- Eric Striker – Oklahoma (6-0, 221) Seffner, Florida. Sr: Another undersized but very quick Outside Linebacker for the Sooners. Perfectly named for a Linebacker and he will definitely strike an offensive player. Striker had 68 tackles a year ago with 17 tackles for loss and 9 Quarterback sacks. Sometimes, it is not even about the number of sacks but the fact that he is out there and will bring heat on the Quarterback is a challenge for offenses.
- Peter Kalambayi – Stanford (6-3, 245) Matthews, North Carolina. Jr: Kalambayi was a back up last season but very productive and he has enormous potential and is much along the same lines of the Blake Martinez, Shayne Skov type of tough guy coming out of Stanford these days.
Kalambayi played behind veteran James Vaughters or Kevin Anderson, both seniors last season. But, he managed 32 tackles, with 9.5 for loss and 6.5 Quarterback sacks. He is a big Outside Linebacker with tremendous athletic ability and a huge upside. Look for Kalambayi to be one of the best defensive players in the country in 2015 after Stanford bounces back from a somewhat sub par season of 8-5 in 2014. Stanford came on strong at the end of the season and is pushing for a big year in 2015.
Keith Kelsey – Louisville
Jeff Schoertmer – North Carolina
Mason Monheim – Illinois
Jovan Santos-Knox – Massachusetts
Zeek Bigger – East Carolina
Nick Vigil – Utah State
Jared Norris – Utah
Michael Scherer – Missouri
Brandon Chubb – Wake Forest
Dominique Alexander – Oklahoma
Nick Kwiatkoski – West Virginia
Jaylen Reeves-Mayben – Tennessee
Pete Robertson – Texas Tech
Curt Maggitt – Tennessee
Deon Hollins – UCLA
Vince Biegel – Wisconsin
Ed Davis – Michigan State
Leonard Floyd – Georgia