Countdown to signing day: Linebackers

Going into the 2012 season, there may not be another area on the field where the Colorado Buffaloes are more experienced than at linebacker. Get inside for the first look at defense in our series.

Seniors Jon Major and Douglas Rippy and junior Derrick Webb all return after starting all or part of the 2011 season.

Major, the only returning team captain, began the 2011 season as the starter on the strong side, but moved to the middle for the last six games after Rippy tore his ACL. Webb spent most of the year starting on the weakside.

At least going into spring ball, those three should be the starters, though Rippy won't participate because he is still recovering from his injury.

Doug Rippy

After that starting group, experience drops off quite a bit, but there is great promise in the youth the Buffs possess.

Brady Daigh got some experience as a true freshman, making 18 tackles in 82 snaps and sophomore Woodson Greer played 40 snaps. They will push the starters and look to make more significant impacts this season.

Two other players have spent time practicing at linebacker and their future could be in that corps. Vince Ewing moved to inside linebacker last season after spending most of his career at safety. However, Ewing has had chronic problems with knee injuries and his future appears uncertain as far as being able to contribute on Saturdays goes.

KT Tuumalo was asked to play safety as a true freshman in 2011 because of depth and injury problems in the secondary. He is likely better suited to play the outside linebacker position and might end up there going forward now that the secondary has improved depth.

Several other sophomores -- Lowell Williams, Hunter Shaw and walk-on Casey Walker -- give the Buffs some depth in the middle of the field.

CU featured a "Jack" outside linebacker position in its defense in 2011. We will include players at that position in our breakdown of the defensive line.

CU coaches did not emphasize linebacker in this class and pursued only a few elite players there, including Seth Jacobs, from Arroyo Grande, Calif., and Deaysean Rippy, from McKees Rocks, Pa.

Colorado backed off of Rippy in mid-January and it appeared Jacobs had decided to go elsewhere based on the latest information through conversations had with sources on Tuesday.

Derrick Webb

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