Follett and Williams have been selected to the 2008 Butkus Award Collegiate Player Watch List. This unit is starting to get recognition off the field. Last season, Felder and Williams both had over 100 tackles and Follett led the team with 5.5 sacks.
The Bears move to the 3-4 defense and linebacker Michael Mohamed will see more action. Mohamed had 46 tackles last season. However, he must contend with juniors Eddie Young and Devin Bishop. Both had stellar camps. As well, redshirt freshman D.J. Holt and dynamic true Mychal Kendricks are too good not to see action. This unit will be tested against Michigan State next week. The Spartans will run Javon Ringer, who gained 1,447 yards last season, early and often.
Big Anthony Felder on the practice field.
"The communication and trust level has grown and each guy knows that the person next to him will do his job," said Felder.
This should result in each linebacker taking care of his responsibilities and not trying to do extra things on the field to cover for another player. The feeling of knowing that Williams, Follett and Mohamed will do their jobs will allow Felder to give strict attention to his responsibilities.
With the switch to the 3-4, the Bears' linebackers no longer have an extra defensive tackle on the field to help keep offensive guards off them. Felder spoke about how the defensive change shaped his off-season preparation. "I worked on getting stronger, faster and I put in a lot of film study to help recognize different play sets," said Felder.
The added strength and speed will help against Michigan State guards Brendon Moss and Roland Martin who weigh 292 and 325 pounds, respectively. There will be situations when the Bears' linebackers will be able to run by the Spartans' guards and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. But there will be short yardage situations when they will have to take on the guards, one-on-one, that is when the off-season preparation should pay dividends.
Other than the offensive line, the linebackers are the most experienced position on the team. The Bears have enough talent in their linebacking corps to make a difference in games. They will be put in positions to make a lot of plays. Before the end of the season, if the Bears win as a team, this unit will be recognized as one of the best set of linebackers in the country.
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