In the Nest: Today's Group – Linebackers

As the new and improved Ball State Insider takes shape, we start by taking a look back at what has already transpired for the Class of 2013.

For the 2012 Ball State Football team, linebacker is a position group that boasts some of the defenses top playmakers, depth and experience. But with experience comes attrition via graduation, and the 2013 Cardinals will be without three of their top talents in the group in 4-year stalwarts Travis Freeman, Tony Martin and Justin Cruz. Not only do those three account for a chunk of the Cardinal tackles, but also a bulk of the starts from a position that fluctuates from 3 starters to 2 when the team goes to there 4-2-5 package against the Mid-American Conference's spread teams. Luckily, the Cardinals have several young players to rely on moving forward, but also have verbal commitments from two exciting players.

Enter into the group Nick Isaacs and Stu Stanley.

Isaacs is everything you look for in a prototypical Middle Linebacker. At 6-2 230, the Cincinnati Withrow product has the size and strength to handle himself in the trenches and not get caught up in the wash. He is a force in the running game a prep, able to shed blockers and lay some serious wood on opposing Running Backs.

Isaacs is also surprisingly fast for his size. He is able to track sideline-to-sideline to make plays and has the short area speed and quickness to close fast on a RB and get good depth against the passing game.

Just as Isaac fits the mold of what you want on the inside, Stu Stanley is the same in an outside backer.

Stanley comes from one of the top programs in Indiana – Indianapolis Cathedral – a school that produces a handful of FBS level players each and every year. This means Stanley comes from good coaching and mentally has some of the tools you look for in a smart, aggressive LB. The 6-1 215 Stanley also plays in the Irish defense as a hybrid Rover type meaning he is able to mix it up in the running game as well as play as an additional Safety against passing teams.

Stanley is a good, but not great athlete, but what he lacks in sheer athleticism, he more than makes up for in savvy, instincts and football IQ. Stanley has a nose for the ball and seems to always be in position to make a play. Stanley plays downhill against the run and has more than adequate pass vs. run recognition skills. As a pass defender, Stanley has lined up even at DB in his prep career and brings good instincts and ball skills to the secondary. His home though, is certainly going to be at LB in college.

Stay tuned to as we bring you another position group glance tomorrow.

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