2011 Stats (Returning)
Willard - 74 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss; 635 snaps
Christian - 34 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss; 411 snaps
Parker - 3 tackles; 33 snaps
Steward - 5 tackles; 36 snaps
Townsend - 3 snaps
Unit Ranking: C+
Willard was the most consistent performer of all the outside linebackers in 2011. His 74 tackles were fifth-best on the team.
As a highly-touted freshman, many believed Steward would eventually overtake Willard for the starting WILL spot. But that never came to fruition. As Willard continued to play at a good enough level, Steward tore his ACL, his second one in just over a year.
After a productive campaign in 2010, Christian followed up middle of the road season in 2011.
Lateek Townsend proved to be a solid special teams performer last season. (Roy Philpott)
Townsend avoided a redshirt last season, but played only three snaps on defense. The majority of his impact was felt on special teams. His classmates, Goodson and Walls, spent last season with redshirts.
The veteransWith the arrival of defensive coordinator Brent Venables, one can assume that all slates have been wiped clean. Can Willard and Christian continue as the starting two outside linebackers in the base defense?
And then there's Parker. This spring is the start of his put up or shut up year. He has to make strides this spring if it's going to be put up.
The young gunsIt's probably a safe assumption that Steward will be a limited participant during spring drills. Because it's his second ACL injury [different knees], he'll have a ways to go when it comes to getting his strength and fitness level caught up to the rest of the group.
With good springs, Townsend and Goodson could line themselves up for serious contention in the two-deep depth chart.
Walls is still around, too. Can he make any strides?
Spring predictions-Willard still at the WILL
-Goodson makes a name for himself