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Arizona has some depth at linebacker, but it is also a position where numerous players are getting second chances or recovering for injuries.
Cody Ippolito was limited in spring, Jake Matthews was limited because of injury, Derrick Turituri is likely to miss the season, and Michael Barton has yet to arrive to campus.
You could make a solid argument that Arizona went the entire spring without its possible starting linebacker unit healthy.
Ippolito is a better linebacker than he gets credit for and although he was out of shape this spring, it isn’t a real concern.
He should be able to help lead the linebacking unit as a whole and the defensive staff is high on him because you can’t question his effort level.
Matthews is a player we just don’t know about right now because of a foot injury. He is a solid linebacker, but nothing spectacular and it is possible that Marcel Yates looks to someone more athletic.
However, Matthews is one of the smarter linebackers on the roster and if he is able to get healthy, you have to think he will have a nice role.
Turituri will miss the season and we have doubts if he will ever return to the field at Arizona, but we also don’t think it is a major loss.
He definitely had the build of an intimidating player, but there are better and more reliable linebackers on the roster.
Michael Barton is a player that is going to come and play right away. He struggled some in his last season at Cal, but was very good the season before that.
At the very least, Barton will add size and stability to a defense that is lacking both. Our guess is that Barton comes in and starts as long as he is able to pick up the defense, but even if that does not happen right away, the playing time will eventually be there for him.
DeAndre Miller is a guy we think is going to have a breakout season. He has battled injuries since arriving to Arizona, but had a great spring and is in the best shape of his career.
There is plenty of work to be done, but it shouldn’t be a surprise to see him become the best linebacker on the team.
Jamardre Cobb and Marquis Ware may not say it outright, but they were probably happy about the coaching change.
Both players will get a new chance on defense and this is a big season for them moving forward. Cobb needs to get in better shape still and continues to have difficulty picking up schemes, so expectations for him should be kept in check.
We have heard mixed reviews about Ware, but he is a bit ahead of Cobb right now as long as he can stay healthy.
The reality of the situation is that there are plenty of linebackers ahead of both Cobb and Ware, but they will get their opportunities.
Beyond those players, there are more unknowns. Carrington Vaughn is a walk-on that has been praised by the coaches and his teammates.
John Kenny is a transfer from Iowa that Arizona wanted out of high school and he put together a solid spring as well.
Kendal Franklin was good enough to play special teams last season, but the coaching staff felt he would be better off sitting out a season.
Freshman Kahi Neves absolutely has the size to play and if he gets the mental part down, will play sooner than later.
Arizona has talent at linebacker, but it is difficult to be confident in the position until that talent produces results.