Season Preview: Linebackers.
Depth Chart: Jordan Richards (OLB), Cory Hogue (MLB), Lawrence Young (OLB), Josh Linam (MLB), Alex Thompson, Loren Robinson, Jack Carter, Chad Alexander, Troy Davis (DE/OLB), D.J. Williams.
Strengths: This group has a ton of experience with two seniors and a junior in the starting lineup…Hogue has been a fixture for the Knights for several years now and is back after suffering from compartmental syndrome last season. He is an intense leader that makes plays in the middle…Richards also comes back from an injury. Richards is as physical as they come; he absolutely loves contact and has a knack for making plays…Speaking of plays, Young made be the best of the bunch as a junior. He roams all over the field and is likely UCF's best athlete at linebacker…Linam has had a fantastic offseason and provides solid depth behind Hogue…The staff is confident with Thompson as a backup OLB…Alexander has made a smooth transition to OLB and he could crack the lineup as early as this season in certain packages…Davis could see the field early on as well.
Weaknesses: The injury of senior Chance Henderson really hurts this group's depth. While he'll likely be redshirted (which is a blessing in disguise,) he will be missed as a guy who comes in off the bench and leads with absolutely no drop off. Now some players like Robinson and Carter must step it up…Hogue is productive but he isn't necessarily effective outside of a phone booth…Richards is oft-injured and that has to scare you.
Overall: UCF's starters are rock solid. Henderson's loss will hurt, but the team has enough athletes to get it done in the second level…If the outside backers play with consistency and discipline, the team should be stout against the run.
Predictions: There will be a lot of pressure amongst this group. Expectations are high and they must be solid not only against the run, but the pass. C-USA teams love spreading things out, so the backers must make a smooth transition into pass protection…With a fantastic front four, UCF's backers, especially Richards and Young, should have career years production wise…Hogue will be in a position to go out on top as a Knight. He hasn't necessarily been an NFL caliber player throughout his career, but if he gains some extra agility this year and makes the plays he's expected to, he can be a late round selection.
Season Preview: Linebackers
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