Recruiting 2002: Linebackers

Arizona needed defensive help and they have brought in three undersized, but athletic linebackers. All three are under 220 pounds, but all three like to hit. The three are not highly regarded by recruiting analysts, but they have all got it done on the field.

Akin Akinniyi

HT: 6-1
WT: 205
40: 4.56
Rank: NR (*)
Home: Carrollton, TX (Creekview HS)

Akinniyi is a hard-hitting linebacker who caused seven fumbles this year. He had 82 tackles, six for loss and three sacks. Was a bit overlooked due to his small size. Akinnyi is well regarded by many services and is considered one of the better linebackers in Texas. Family immigrated from Nigeria 20 years ago.

"I sort of had a feeling about Arizona even in the beginning when I got the first phone call," said Akinniyi. "I just had an inkling to go to Arizona and then I went down there and it was beautiful. The scenery was beautiful with the palm trees and everything, plus, the campus was really alive even though it was finals week."

2002 Outlook: Akinniyi will have every opportunity to compete for playing time. He will have a chance to compete for the back-up WHIP linebacker spot with Pedro Limon. He could stand to use some more size and if he doesn't make an immediate impact, expect him to sit out a year and bulk up.

Spencer Larsen

HT: 6-2
WT: 210
Rank: NR (*)
Home: Gilbert, AZ (Highland HS)

Larsen was a bit of an unknown, but he is a good athlete who could develop into an impact linebacker. Very athletic, Larsen was also the Highland's quarterback last season. He racked up 124 tackles, 14 of them for losses. He had a pair of sacks and forced fumbles as well. A tall linebacker, the Arizona coaches love his frame and think eventually he'll develop into a middle linebacker.

2002 Outlook: With Lance Briggs entrenched at middle linebacker, Larsen will be able to learn from one of the best at the position. Larsen will be given an opportunity to compete for a job, but he'll most likely redshirt in an effort to get bigger and develop.

John McKinney

HT: 6-0
WT: 195
Rank: NR (*)
Home: Copperas Cove, TX (Copperas Cove HS)

McKinney is one of those players who gets it done on the field, but still slips on recruiting lists. He's undersized, but very active. He is a great tackler who is very aggressive. If he can bulk up he has a great chance to be an excellent player. The Copperas Cove program is a very competitive program and has excellent fundamentals.

2002 Outlook: Wildcat coaches seem to love McKinney. Although he is small, they see him as being similar to Kirk Johnson. Small body, big hitter. He is probably going to redshirt in 2002 and then expect him to make an impact in 2003.

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