With spring practice and Bearcat Bowl II behind us we continue looking at what we know about several positions. Today we look at the linebackers.
With a few questions entering spring the linebackers under a new coach have exceeded what was expected of them. We knew going in the job Corey Smith and Ryan Manalac would do, but the biggest question with the veteran players was on the shoulders of Andre Revels and how he’d adjust to moving outside after sharing time in the middle last season.
As we now know Revels excelled and the Bearcats look solid with their three main backers. But depth is here as Torry Cornett made even more strides this spring forcing the staff to look at keeping all four on the field as much as possible.
It looks as if Delbert Ferguson is saving his best for his senior season and will see increased playing time this fall.
The other surprise came from the play of red shirt sophomore Robby Armstrong who for the first time showed what made him a nice signing a few years ago. Armstrong looked as if the game has slowed down now and with that will come improved play.
Another bright spot is red shirt freshman Alex Delisi who one day will anchor the middle of the Bearcats defense.
Others also performed well as Obadiah Cheatham and Colin McCafferty continue their improvement. McCafferty has become a great player on special teams and is just starting to come into his own as a college defender.
Linebacker is a position that will need to be addressed during the recruiting of the Class of 2009. With only two backers coming into the program (J.K. Schaffer & Mark Nelson) backers will be a position of need in the next class. Depth is good but not great as Smith, Manalac, Cornett and
Staying healthy is a must for the Bearcats to have the type of defense they are capable of having in 2008. Corey Smith is a major concern staying healthy as he’s missed time each of the past couple of seasons. While there is depth the caliber of player Smith is would be a major setback.
I’m very excited about the advances of Armstrong and Delisi this spring. While Delisi heard his name yelled a lot during the spring, he must understand this is more of a sign of what the coaches expect of him at such an early stage of his career. As with Armstrong the game will continue to slow for the
I’ve seen Mark Nelson play at the high school level and feel he’ll have a chance in the years to come but the future is Cincinnati LaSalle product J.K. Schaffer who’ll be looking to enter the program and pick things up quickly. He’ll have to make some adjustments but is capable of seeing time on special teams early if the staff wants to waste a year.
One of the position changes this spring saw Tomaz Hilton move to linebacker. The jury is still out on Hilton at this time.
As the season comes to a close look for Revels to begin to take his place as the leader he’s capable of being. Andre is a vocal player and plays the game the way you want it played. At times he’s gotten too excited but has come to learn how to control his emotions and is just reaching the potential he’s capable of reaching. No one will work harder then the former Colerain product and younger players will feed off of his energy.
What We Know
While the linebacker position looks solid injuries could come into play and make things look different than what is expected. The past couple of seasons the teams tackle leader has come from the secondary and I wouldn’t be surprised if that changes this year and one of the main backers fights for the title.
Keep an eye on the recruiting front to the linebackers the Bearcats are able to sign. They will be the future success of the program.