With the returners for this group the front line will be solid, the question will lie in the depth in this unit. If players that didn’t play as much last season step up this could be a pretty solid group as a whole. This unit will have to put on its big boy pants for the defense to turn the corner.
The key losses from last year are Leviticus Payne and Kevin Brown. There were others, but those were the two key cogs from last season. Payne was the team’s swiss army knife as he would play nickel slash outside linebacker at the drop of a dime.
The team’s leading tackler (with 109) senior Eric Wilson is back, he is also on the Butkus Award Watch List and I expect him to be even better this season. His partner in crime is sophomore Bryce Jenkinson who in Spring Ball looked very impressive in much more comfortable making reads so far in his second season. Depending if they play Mike Tyson (safety) at the weak side position a la Payne, will make the other linebacker position shape up, so higher ground will be important for the others on this list.
Another change so far this season is Kevin Mouhon is listed as a linebacker after playing last year as a defensive end. Mouhon played a lot last year as a freshman and I expect him to play a lot at his new position as well.
Junior Jaylyin Minor and senior Antonio Kinard played a lot last year and will be in the mix for important playing time this season as well. Freshman Ty Sponseller has already been on campus so it is possible he could push for some snaps as well. Matthew Draper, Trevor Ginn, Zach Hubbard and Cody Wright round up the rest of the linebackers.
This group will be very vital to the success of the Bearcats.