Position Preview: Linebackers

Mark Herzlich's miraculous recovery and budding superstar Luke Kuechly garner all the headlines and analysis when people talk about BC's linebackers. Yet this is probably the deepest and most talented unit of the 2010 Eagles.

Joining Kuechly and Herzlich as the expected third starter will be Senior Mike Morrissey. The former walk-on came into his own last season and showed good tackling and surprising speed. Nick Clancy's playing time petered out towards the end of last season, but he showed real promise and was a solid tackler. Kevin Pierre-Louis enrolled early and shined in the spring game. If he continues that level of performance in summer practices, he will likely play as a true freshman. Will Thompson has been a solid, but often-injured backup and should provide relief at MLB. Darius Bagan played well in spot duty last season. Alexander DiSanzo started four games last season and could challenge for a starting spot again this season. After redshirting last year, Andre Lawrence and Jake Sinkovec should both see their first playing time this season.

True Freshman Steele Divitto is likely to redshirt.

Big Question: What should BC expect from Herzlich? Even without his prodigious talents coming back, linebacker probably would have been the strength of this team. The thought of the team's emotional leader regaining his 2008 form would mean the sky is the limit for BC. But no one knows how good Herzlich can or will be. In all their public statements, the coaches are hedging and just saying they are glad Herzlich is around. The cancer-survivor is not being nearly as modest. He expects to be better than he was before the cancer. All BC really needs though is his leadership and a few tackles a game. They have enough talent around him that Herzlich doesn't need to carry the squad.

Little Question: Will any other linebackers get moved to another position? The logjam at linebacker allowed the staff to move Dominick LeGrande to Safety and Dan Williams to Defensive End. The depleted BC defensive line might need another body or two. Could Sinkovec move to DE? Or perhaps DiSanzo? It will probably come down to need. If BC has talent sitting on the bench while the defensive line fails to generate pressure, you may see some shuffling.

Style and Scheme: BC plays a traditional 4-3 with plenty of zone coverages. This means that Linebackers have to be very sharp in the passing game and have been the source of many BC INTs.

When he has depth, BC Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers coach Bill McGovern likes to rotate his linebackers on a regular basis. Injuries limited McGovern's ability to rotate in 2008 and 2009. Now with a stacked depth chart, look for the quick substitutions to return.

Factoid: A linebacker has led BC in tackles four out of the last six seasons.

Outlook: BC certainly has issues and questions on defense, but not on Linebacker. Expect these guys to fly around the field and cause all sorts of problems for ACC offenses.


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