The Line at Linebacker

Starters ... proven starters return at the middle linebacker spot for Kansas State in 2009. John Houlik and Alex Hrebec may not be the most talented athletes in camp, but they play with intelligence and effectiveness.

No one in-house is confirming it, but by name, Kansas State is expected to line up with just two linebackers in what is being rumored to be a 4-2-5 scheme for 2009. vBoth will be of the inside variety in Alex Hrebec (5-11, 238, Soph) and John Houlik (5-11, 219, Sr).

Super size? No.

Sub-4.5 40-guys? No.

But, co-coordinator and linebacker coach Chris Cosh says, "They do the little things well. Fundamentally, they are very sound." And while not the fastest, Cosh says, "We like how they run to the football with a passion and their tackling is fundamentally sound."

Houlik has 29 games of K-State experience with 2007 being his banner season. As a sophomore, he registered 68 tackles with four of those being for negative yards.

Last year in eight games, he had 29 tackles to his credit with a pair of pass deflections.

Speaking for the total defense, Houlik said, "We're out there having fun again and playing football like it is supposed to be played. That was lacking last year. We forgot that the game was supposed to be fun. We lost focus and lost track on what the real goal should be."

A former walk-on, Hrebec became one of the most improved Wildcats last year after the St. Louis, Mo., product redshirted during the 2007 season.

Playing in all 12 games, Hrebec notched 68 tackles with four for negative yards, three pass deflections and a forced fumble. His single-game high was 11 arrests against Iowa State.

"They have similar styles," Cosh said. "Like you want in baseball, it gives us a solid defensive look up the middle with our tackles and safeties, plus these two guys at linebacker.

"We like their willingness to get better and build into the fundamentals that we are teaching," Cosh said. "We have good people who are starting to build a trust and togetherness."

In K-State terminology, Houlik, backed by Ulla Pomele (6-1, 228, Sr), will play the "Will" linebacker, while Hrbec, plus Kevin Rohleder (6-0, 217, Jr) and Hansen Sekona (6-0, 230, Sr), will play the "Mike."

Pomele started eight games and played in all 12 last year after transferring from Santa Rosa Junior college. He had 58 tackles with 7.5 for negative yards, plus demonstrated big-play ability with two pass deflections, two forced fumbles and two fumbles recovered.

Sekona, a transfer from College of San Mateo, also played in every game last year. He had 23 tackles. Sekona has recently received some snaps at defensive tackle.

Rohleder has seen the field in five games in each of the last two years. With that depth, Cosh said, "If we have a 70-play game, we have at least four guys who could play close to 35 plays a game."

Oh, the difference between "Will" and "Mike?" "Just the name," Cosh said. "The positions are basically the same."


John Houlik, 5-11, 219, Sr, Wichita, Kan.
Alex Hrebec, 5-11, 238, Soph, St. Louis, Mo.
Ulla Pomele, 6-1, 228, Sr, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Kevin Rohleder, 6-0, 217, Jr, Wichita, Kan.
Hansen Sekona, 6-0, 230, Sr, San Mateo, Calif.

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