FNL Preview: Linebackers

The best word to describe the linebacker situation at the University of Florida would be optimism. The Gators lost all three starters off last year's National Championship team. Brandon Spikes, Dustin Doe and A.J. Jones are young but very talented. If they stay healthy, they have a chance to equal what last years linebackers accomplished.

As the 2007 recruiting class arrives, three very talented true freshmen arrive with it. Lorenzo Edwards, John Jones and Brandon Hicks will be counted on to provide immediate depth.

Lorenzo Edwards is 6-2, 225-pounds. He is from Orlando (Fla.) Edgewater High School and was ranked as the No. 1 recruit at weak side linebacker by Scout.com. As a senior, he recorded 81 tackles and earned a spot on the East Team for the 2007 U.S. Army All-American game. As a junior, Edwards recorded 120 tackles (97 solo), five interceptions, five sacks and had three fumble recoveries. He made 85 tackles as a sophomore, including 15 tackles for loss.

John Jones is 6-3, 205-pounds. Jones is from Sarasota (Fla.) Booker High School. Like Hicks, Jones was a two-way standout as well. He played as a combination linebacker/end and wide receiver. Jones was chosen as a member of the second-team all-state defense in Florida. On defense, Jones recorded 70 tackles, 23 sacks and five fumble recoveries in his junior year. During that season, he had 33 receptions for 484 yards and scored six touchdowns. Jones the No. 8-ranked middle linebacker according to Scout.com had 23 sacks in 2005.

Brandon Hicks is 6-2, 205-pounds. Hicks, from Jacksonville (Fla.) Nathan Bedford High School was a two-way standout who played both wide receiver and linebacker. As a senior, Hicks collected 40 tackles, nine sacks and three interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown. He also had four receiving touchdowns. During his junior year, he accumulated 220 yards and two touchdowns, while recording 88 tackles and 12 sacks.

As of right now this is who we hear will attend Friday Night Lights at the linebacker position for the class of 2008.

MLB

  • Arthur Brown - Wichita (Kan.) East High School (6-2/225/4.50)
  • Etienne Sabino - Miami Dr. Krop High School (6-3/230/4.60)

    WLB:

  • Ramon Buchanon - Melbourne (Fla.) Palm Bay (6-2/195/4.55)
  • Marcus Robinson - Homestead (Fla.) Senior (6-2/210/4.47)
  • Jerrell Harris - Gadsden (Ala.) Gadsden City (6-3/215/4.50)

    SLB:

  • Marlon Walls - Memphis (Tenn.) Wooddale (6-4/215/4.55)
  • Malcolm Munroe - Miami Coral Reef Senior (6-3/205/4.60)

    We start with the No. 1 linebacker in the country and the No. 1 overall ranked player, Arthur Brown. Some say that he is the top linebacker prospect since Ernie Simms in 2003. Last season as a junior, Brown had 158 tackles, eight sacks and an interception. He claims to bench 315 pounds, squat 455 and power clean 235. He ran a 4.47 forty at an Oklahoma camp. Brown is looking at Florida, Florida State, Kansas State, Miami, Michigan, Oklahoma and Southern Cal. As of right now it looks like Brown will be in Gainesville as a spectator only.

    The No. 6 ranked middle linebacker and checking in at No. 62 on the Scout.com Top 100 for the class of 2008 is Etienne Sabino from Miami (Fla). The strength of his game is his shore tackling ability. He is very physical and is more of a downhill type of a player. Sabino finished his junior season with 132 tackles as a junior. One of the top linebacker prospects in the state of Florida, Sabino benches 370 pounds and has a 32-inch vertical jump. He plays the game with a nasty attitude and is a ferocious hitter when he meets the ball carrier. Sabino is looking at Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Ohio State, Tennessee and Southern Cal. North Carolina could be the sleeper team to watch out for when he pulls the trigger.

    Next up is the weak side linebackers and like the middle linebackers there will be no shortage of talent at the will. One of the top linebackers in the state of Florida is Ramon Buchanon. He had over 100 tackles and three interceptions his junior season. Buchanon is currently ranked No. 1 in the country at his position and sits at No. 44 on the Scout.com Top 100. He is an explosive hitter with tremendous speed sideline to sideline. Buchanon is listed as a soft verbal to Miami at this time. Other schools of interest are Florida, South Carolina and Wake Forest.

    As is the case with so many other top prospects this year look for Miami and Florida to battle it out to the end for his services.

    Marcus Robinson is ranked No. 3 at the weak side linebacker position and sits at No. 67 on the Scout.com Top 100. Robinson is one of if not the fastest linebacker on the board. He plays very physical and his motor never stops running. Robinson is also one of the best pass rushers from the state of Florida as he ended his junior season with 19 sacks. He was looking at Florida, Florida State, Rutgers and Southern Cal before deciding on the Miami Hurricanes.

    Next up is the No. 4 ranked weak side linebacker and a member of the Scout.com Top 100, checking in at No. 74, Jerrell Harris. Harris is 6-3 and 215-pounds and has speed similar to Marcus Robinson. Harris has great balance to his game when playing the run or pass. He recorded 130 tackles last season and excels in pass coverage. Harris had this to say about his game:

    "My versatility, aggressiveness and pass covering skills are my strengths. I love to cover people out of the backfield. The thing that I need to work on the most is getting off blockers and using my hands more."

    Jerrell Harris has the Gators very high on his board right now and this will be his first trip to Gainesville. Harris is also looking at Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia Tech, LSU and Southern Cal. Keep an eye on Jerrell Harris this weekend.

    At strong side linebacker, expect to see Marlon Walls and Malcolm Munroe under the lights in Gainesville this weekend. Marlon Walls is a fantastic looking linebacker prospect from Memphis (Tenn.) Wooddale High School. Walls is 6-4 and 217-pounds and runs in the 4.5 range. He has the ability to play both the run and pass at an extremely high level. Look for Walls to decide the first week in August between Florida and Tennessee.

    From July 9:
    "It is definitely going to be a Florida/Tennessee Battle. I talk to Coach Urban Meyer all the time. I talk to Coach Phil Fulmer all the time. I talk to Coach Charlie Strong all the time. I talk to Coach Trooper Taylor all the time. I am trying to narrow this thing down anyway and make a decision before the season starts. I do not want the pressure of recruiting on me all the time and I want to focus on my senior season and grades. I want to make my decision before the season starts. I have narrowed it down to those two schools. I always have Florida and Tennessee on my mind no matter what is going on around me. I am going to Friday Night Lights and then in the first week in August, I am going to Tennessee and after that, I will sit down with my parents and make the choice."

    Malcolm Munroe is another good looking prospect from the Miami area. Munroe played several different positions last season, seeing time at defensive end, linebacker, cornerback and safety. He projects as a linebacker at the next level. Munroe finished his junior season with 40 tackles. Munroe is looking at Auburn, Central Florida, Clemson, Florida, Georgia Tech, Louisville and South Carolina. He is very interested in the Gamecocks and Head Coach Steve Spurrier.

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