Breaking Down: Linebackers

Our position-by-position breakdown moves on to the linebackers for the Red Wolves.

The Breakdown:
Position Starter Backup
STINGER LINEBACKER Kyle Coleman – 6'2 232 Jr Quanterio Heath – 6'3 210 RFr
MIKE LINEBACKER Qushuan Lee – 5'11 230 RJr LaAngelo Albright – 5'11 220 RSr
WOLF LINEBACKER Frankie Jackson – 5'9 185 RJr Charleston Girley – 6'1 190 RSo

The Numbers:
Qushuan Lee finished 2012 with 100 tackles. He has 149 career stops and while many were memorable, the one that dropped Kent's Spencer Keith clinched the Go Daddy Bowl win. Kyle Coleman moves to linebacker from safety where most of his 27 career tackles were made. Coleman went from 215 pounds to 232 pounds preparing for the move to LB. Albright has 23 career tackles most of which have come on special teams where LaLo has toiled during his time at ASU.

The Analysis:
A-State lost two of the three interior linebackers that were used during the 2012 championship season. However, the one that the Red Wolves return is Q. Lee. Lee has been a beast for ASU in the middle during his two seasons on the gridiron. Just a junior now, Lee has punished opposing running backs enough that he was picked by Athlon Sports, Lindy's, Phil Steele and Sporting News as first team All-SBC going into 2013. Lee moves from the Will linebacker to the Mike.

John Thompson has praised Coleman for his improvement in the last few weeks. ASU fans hope Kyle follows in his father's footsteps and moves from safety to linebacker and plays well enough to get drafted by the NFL. Coleman has good speed and is athletic and if the former HS quarterback shows the physicality needed at the linebacker position he could help pick up some of the production lost from the departure of Nathan Herrold.

John Thompson is looking for someone to replace 2012 star backup Nick Nelms. Nelms rotated at the two interior linebacker positions in 2012.

Heath and Albright will have a shot to provide depth. Albright has been a career backup and may be ready to see more time. Heath has excellent size and speed and could provide some athleticism to the position if he can learn the defense. Freshman Xavier Woodson (6'2 200) has impressed the staff and could also push for a role. Darius Buckley (5'10 225 RJr) will provide depth at the Mike.

The battle on the defense has been between Jackson and Girley for the starting job at the Wolf. Don Jones owned that hybrid position in 2012 and was able to use his athletic ability to help neutralize the opponents quick slot backs while blowing up running backs in run support. Jackson moved from running back and has lots of athletic ability but is new to the position. Girley is a smart defensive player that loves to hit. Those two will both see time and will probably rotate a lot throughout the season regardless of who ultimately wins the starting role.