The linebacker position is an area that possesses a trio of very capable starters for Arizona, but there isn't much depth behind them. With the departures of R.J. Young and Trevor Erno, linebacker has become a thin area for the Wildcats.
This won't matter much though if the starting linebackers can manage to stay on the field for the majority of the season.
One starter looking to step his game up to a higher level is Derek Earls.
The soon-to-be senior was one of Arizona's most reliable defensive players in 2010 and he has the talent to develop into one of the Pac-12's best linebackers in 2011.
Arizona has had two scrimmages and Earls was happy with how the linebackers, as well as the rest of the defense, played.
"We came out really good," Earls said. "We were here to play, so it was interesting how we came out."
Earls was one of the stars on defense during the first scrimmage as he came away with two interceptions – one of which he took to back for a touchdown. Earls' athleticism was on display through much of the 2010 campaign and it appears as if he is a step quicker than a year before.
The linebacker attributes his early success in spring with being more comfortable on the field than he was at this time a year ago.
"I'm not really thinking as much," Earls said. "When you first get into something you think a lot and now I finally got used to the system and know where I need to be without thinking and started reacting a lot more."
There isn't much behind Earls and his fellow starters at linebacker, but that doesn't stop him from being enthused about the potential at his position.
He believes that the players that are competing will improve through the natural course of competition. Earls believes that, despite the depth issues at linebacker, everyone will be ready to perform at their best.
"Everyone is out here trying to compete and get better," Earls said. "So no matter whom we have back there you know they are going to be out there playing as hard as they can."
Earls ready to perform
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