Heyman leads Louisville's young linebackers

Louisville senior Dexter Heyman is the leader of a young, but promising group of linebackers for Charlie Strong's Cardinals.

Louisville senior Dexter Heyman is the leader of a young, but promising group of linebackers for Charlie Strong's Cardinals.

After bouncing around from one position to another under Steve Kragthorpe, Heyman moved to middle linebacker during Strong's first season and flourished. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Heyman recorded a career-high 48 tackles and two sacks while playing in all 13 games for the Cardinals.

Now, Heyman must provide leadership to a linebacker corps that is young, but extremely athletic. Sophomore linebackers Preston Brown, Tyon Dixon and Deon Rogers, and freshman Brandon Golson all are expected to play roles this season.

"Being young can be a good thing," Heyman said. "We have a lot of young talent in our linebacker corps. We've just got to harness and hone that and get them going in the right direction."

Though Louisville will miss Brandon Heath and Antwan Canady's experience, Heyman believes the Cardinals young linebackers have the talent and athleticism to succeed.

"We definitely have a lot of young athleticism," Heyman said. "Deon Rogers, a 4.4 guy that can really hit. He's very athletic. Preston Brown, 255, a 4.5 guy. Brandon Golson is going to be a good player for us. When you talk about guys like that…..we've got to teach them to play Cardinal football. The sooner we can teach that the bigger impact they'll have on games for us."

Heyman, who opened spring drills as the starting middle linebacker, initially will line up next to Daniel Brown and Deon Rogers. Golson is battling Brown at SAM, while Preston Brown provides competition for Heyman in the middle. Dixon is listed behind Rogers at weakside linebacker.

"Daniel Brown and Deon Rogers are heck of athletes," Heyman said. "All you need is somebody that can think in the middle and I think I can do that to at least get these guys lined up and in place. After that instincts take over and you're just playing ball. We have a lot of football players. As long as we get everybody in the right position I think we'll be alright."

Heyman said the biggest thing Louisville's young linebackers must do this spring is learning to focus.

"The thing that really needs to happen in the linebacker group is we need to learn to focus for a two-hour practice or game, more importantly, on what we need to do," Heyman said. "If we can do that we'll be pretty good."

In his last go-around at UofL, Heyman believes he must assume the leadership role vacated by Brandon Heath. That's a role Heyman has no problems accepting.

"My role is much like Brandon Heath's role was last year to make all the checks," Heyman said. "I watched Brandon Heath and how he led. He was really knowledgeable about the game of football and I tried to learn that as much as possible. I need to call out formations, down and distance, where the back is at, what plays you could get. Most importantly I've got to make plays because nobody is going to listen to you if you can't make a tackle."

"Having a big senior year is always in the back of your mind, but it's all about the team right now," added Heyman. "We're just focusing on being as good as we can and making as much progress in the spring as we can. We want to be the best defense and team we can be going into camp."

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