Signing Day Targets: Linebacker

Here is the third of many indepth looks of athletes already looking in the Tigers' direction. Today, we present you with an initial glance at all of the possible linebackers that could come into focus come Signing Day 2003.

LB Ryan Brown (6'2,235,4.6) Berkeley HS
Ryan Brown is likely one of the top two linebackers in the state of South Carolina returning in 2002. He registered 48 tackles and 4 sacks last season, but he suffered a season ending ankle injury and only saw action in 4 games. He has since recovered and is expected to be one of top linebackers in the southeast this year.

It is expected that Brown will stay in-state, and this will likely come down to an all out war between Clemson and South Carolina. With his outstanding size, and pure speed, he'll be highly sought after by schools from all over.

There have been varying reports on his favorite between the two, at this point, its probably only safe to say that it's a toss-up.

LB Marcus Howard (6'2,205,4.4) Hanahan HS
One of the top linebackers in the state of South Carolina. Runs a 4.4 40-yard dash and already benches 320 pounds and squats 500. Had 5 interceptions last year and is a standout track and field performer.

Howard, the younger brother of Clemson DL J.J. Howard, has attended several Clemson practices this spring and all indications are the Tigers will be the team to beat before its all said and done.

"He'll be the most highly recruited prospect ever from Hanahan," says Hanahan Head Coach Jeff Cruce.

Howard can also bench 320 and squat 500. Right now, he is being recruited the hardest by Clemson, North Carolina State, South Carolina, Michigan, Michigan State, LSU, Georgia, and Tennessee. Clemson has already moved in with a scholarship offer.

LB Tom Busch (5'11,232,4.6) Cottage Grove, MN
A strong inside linebacker prospect that runs well and gets to the football. Last season he registered 150 tackles and 20 tackles for a loss in nine games.

"I love to fly to the football. I have good speed and play sideline to sideline," says Busch. "Nebraska, Iowa, Northwestern, Iowa State, Stanford, Clemson, Illinois, Louisville and Missouri are all recruiting me pretty hard. Those are the schools I like as well.

Busch will need to come down to Clemson this summer if anything further is going to develop out of this situation. As of right now, he'll be camping at Iowa, Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Nebraska.

LB Brandon Jackson (6-3,225,4.5) Lake Charles, LA
Brandon Jackson of Lake Charles Washington-Marion, Louisiana is one of the top linebackers in the country for the 2002 season. He likes LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Miami, Clemson, Texas, Texas A&M, and UCLA.

Jackson finished his junior season with 105 tackles, 52 of which were solos, 45 assists, four sacks, two interceptions, two fumbles caused and one returned for a touchdown. He, along with Marcus Howard out of Hanahan, has a scholarship on the table from Clemson.

Naturally, LSU will be the team to beat in the recruiting process.

LB Justin Durant (6'1,225,4.7) Wilson HS
Big time defensive playmaker from Wilson High School in Florence. He is the younger brother of North Carolina QB Darian Durant. Justin plays middle linebacker.

"I really want to go to South Carolina and if they offer me a scholarship, I will commit to them," says Durant. If it does not work out with the Gamecocks, Durant also is looking at Clemson, East Carolina and the Auburn Tigers.

South Carolina is the team to beat, and the Tigers are likely on the outside looking in.

LB Curtis Rice (6-3,205,4.6) Union HS
Curtis Rice of Union has all the physical tools in place to become a strong Division I-A football player, but perhaps his strongest asset is his pure speed. Rice has been timed at right under 4.6 in the 4-yard dash. He is hard hitter with excellent athleticism.

Last year, he finished the seasons with 62 tackles (9 for loss), 4 sacks, 3 INTs, and 3 fumble recoveries. He played several positions for Union including a little fullback.

Both Clemson and South Carolina are involved, with more schools soon to follow. The Gamecocks have already offered. Rice is probably the most underrated prospect at linebacker in the state right now.

LB Micah Greene (5'11,220,4.8) Richmond, VA
Hard nosed, physical linebacker, Greene could play fullback or linebacker on the next level. He recorded 98 tackles and 7 sacks in just 9 games as a junior.

"I've heard from Clemson, Wake Forest, and North Carolina. North Carolina is by far my favorite school. I love Chapel Hill; I love the school, the campus, and everything about it," says Greene.

There a couple of guys that should initially strike you from this list.

Your bigtime targets will likely be Ryan Brown, Marcus Howard, and Brandon Jackson. All three possess outstanding pure speed and display that nasty linebacker mentality that you like to see in one of your biggest playmakers on defense.

There are several other prospects out of Louisiana and Texas that we will be adding to this list in the upcoming weeks. Top Stories