Quick links:
 Latest Team Rankings
 Free Rivals Alerts
 Member Services
ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports

August 16, 2010

Preseason unit rankings: Linebackers

Here is part five of our national unit rankings.

We are unveiling one unit per day and will end Thursday with overall coaching staffs.

The rankings take into account what the players have accomplished, how we think the players will do this season and sheer talent. But production does trump potential.

Here are the linebacker rankings. Next up: secondaries.

LINEBACKER UNIT RANKINGS

1. NORTH CAROLINA
BUZZ
: Seniors Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant are potential first-round draft picks on a Tar Heels defense loaded with talent. The third returning starter is sophomore Kevin Reddick, and there is good depth. Sturdivant had 11 tackles for loss last season.

2. OHIO STATE
BUZZ
: Ross Homan is the centerpiece. He paced the team with 108 tackles last fall while tying for the team lead in interceptions with five. Etienne Sabino always has possessed the physical tools but has needed to master the schemes. Brian Rolle is on the small side (5-11/218), but he runs well and is a punishing hitter.

3. MICHIGAN STATE
BUZZ
: Is there a better linebacker in America than Greg Jones, who has made 359 tackles in his three seasons? Jones made 154 tackles last season, with nine sacks, 14 tackles for loss and eight quarterback hurries. Eric Gordon is good, too, while Chris Norman teems with potential. That trio heads a deep group.

4. ALABAMA
BUZZ
: The Tide have to replace all four starters, but Dont'a Hightower is making his return from an anterior cruciate ligament injury and could be an All-American. There is a ton of talent here, and it's finally going to get a chance to shine.

5. BOSTON COLLEGE
BUZZ
: If we were certain Mark Herzlich would recapture his 2008 form, the Eagles would rank higher on this list. Luke Kuechly made 158 tackles last season as a true freshman, and coaches already have praised true freshman Kevin Pierre-Louis this season.

6. OKLAHOMA
BUZZ
: The Lewises (Travis and Ronnell, no relation) are beasts. Travis has made 253 tackles in his first two seasons with the Sooners. A lot is expected from redshirt freshman Tom Wort in the middle.

7. USC
BUZZ
: Malcolm Smith, Chris Galippo and Michael Morgan are the Pac-10's best trio of linebackers -- and converted E Devon Kennard may be better than all of them.

8. TEXAS
BUZZ
: Keenan Robinson is an emerging star on the outside, and Emmanuel Acho is solid, too. The middle 'backer will be a new starter, but the leading contenders are seniors. There also are some talented incoming freshmen.

9. FLORIDA
BUZZ
: The Gators lost two starters, but there was excellent depth last season. Senior A.J. Jones has all-league potential, senior Brandon Hicks has been a part-time starter in each of the past two seasons and coaches rave about redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins. Sophomore Jon Bostic also will see a lot of time.

10. CONNECTICUT
BUZZ
: With Scott Lutrus battling injuries last season, Lawrence Wilson -- who went to Paul Bryant High in Tuscaloosa, Ala. -- shouldered a bigger load, leading the Big East with 140 tackles, including 11 for loss. Lutrus, who had 69 tackles in eight games, is healthy, and sophomore Jory Johnson saw ample time as a rookie.

11. SOUTHERN MISS
BUZZ
: Korey Williams, Ronnie Thornton and Martez Smith combined for 317 tackles last season, and all three are back. It wouldn't be a surprise if Williams is the best defensive player in Conference USA this season.

12. OREGON
BUZZ
: The Ducks are strong with Casey Matthews and Spencer Paysinger. They have good depth, too.

Don't overlook these 5: Arizona State, Auburn, Boise State, Central Michigan, Maryland.

(Rankings by Rivals.com staffers Olin Buchanan, Tom Dienhart, David Fox, Mike Huguenin and Steve Megargee.)



Florida State NEWS

[More]

Latest Headlines:


 

Rivals.com is your source for: College Football | Football Recruiting | College Basketball | Basketball Recruiting | College Baseball | High School | College Merchandise
Site-specific editorial/photos Warchant.com. All rights reserved. This website is an officially and independently operated source of news and information not affiliated with any school or team.
About | Advertise with Us | Contact | Privacy Policy | About our Ads | Terms of Service | Copyright/IP policy | Yahoo! Sports - NBC Sports Network

Statistical information 2014 STATS LLC All Rights Reserved.