Louisiana Prospect Review: Inside LBs

Many of the top linebackers in Louisiana pull double-duty, logging snaps on defense and then switching over - often to quarterback - on offense. Darian Claiborne (Port Allen) and Melvin Jones (Washington-Marion) are both ironmen who fit the aforementioned mold...

(Prospects listed in alphabetical order by last name)

Darian Claiborne (Port Allen) -- 6-1, 225 -- Claiborne has great instincts. He quickly diagnoses plays and gets to the football in a hurry (and with a nasty disposition). Claiborne accelerates to full speed almost instantaneously and shoots the gap like a man possessed. Last year, his heroics were nothing short of amazing. He played quarterback and middle linebacker for Port Allen, which posted a 10-3 mark and reached the Class 3A quarterfinals. The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder was not only the starting QB, he was also the primary weapon on offense for head coach Guy Blanchard. When Claiborne is on defense, he stops ballcarriers dead in their tracks. On offense, Claiborne can turn a potential five-yard loss into a lengthy touchdown with his running ability. His first step at LB is explosive. He has the strength to shed blockers and immediately get to the ball. Texas A&M and Nebraska are among the schools that have offered. Claiborne racked up an astounding 21 tackles in one game last year. His squad eliminated Loranger (and LSU commit Jeryl Brazil) in the second round of the playoffs.

Melvin Jones (Washington-Marion) -- 6-3, 245 -- Jones has prototype size and impressive bloodlines. His father played college football. Jones, like Darian Claiborne, played inside linebacker and quarterback for his team in 2011. Washington-Marion, a Class 4A school in north Lake Charles, was struggling to find an identity on offense before Jones took charge under center. The Charging Indians won the last four games of the regular season and dominated a good Plaquemine team (35-8) in the first round of the playoffs. There's speculation that Jones could move to DE in college. Last year, he was named "4A Midseason Defensive Player of the Year" by Scout.com. Jones plays with fire and emotion and seems to always be in the right place in pass coverage. On offense, Jones usually took the snap out of the shotgun and chose a hole to run through. When he gets to the outside carrying the football, Jones finds an extra gear and motors past many defensive backs. He ran for 267 yards and 24 carries with a pair of TDs vs. DeRidder. Nebraska, TCU, Texas A&M and Louisiana (Ragin' Cajuns) have reportedly offered.

Preston Winget (Mandeville) -- 6-2, 220 -- The Skippers skated to the Class 5A semis last year before meeting eventual champ West Monroe. Winget collected 19 tackles during a crucial regular season contest vs. Fontainebleau. Winget specializes in stopping the run, and he did a fine job of shutting down Westgate's I-option offense in the first round of the postseason. The hard-nosed junior has also spent time at defensive end and fullback at Mandeville. At middle linebacker, Winget is able to dart past offensive linemen and take the shortest point to the football. He does a textbook job of wrapping up and making the stop. Thanks to Winget's ability, Mandeville was able to rush three linemen and drop extra players into coverage on passing situations. Doesn't have any offers yet.

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