With evidence such as two preseason All-ACC selections residing among the group, there's little doubt that the success of the Louisville defense will be determined by the performance of the units collection of linebackers.
Highlighted by a pair of seniors, Keith Kelsey on the inside and Devonte Fields on the edge, the linebackers shouldn't miss a beat from its stellar play in 2015. Kelsey led the Cardinals with a career-high 107 tackles last fall, while Fields registered a team-high 11 sacks.
Junior Stacy Thomas has been impressive when given the opportunity. He has been a standout on special teams during his first two seasons at U of L and last fall saw him emerge as a potential difference-maker. He closed 2015 with a career-high 11 tackles in the Cardinals win over Texas A&M in the Music City Bowl.
Sophomore Isaac Stewart and redshirt freshman Amonte Caban will also get some reps at inside linebacker. True freshmen Tobias Little and Malik Staples will compete for reserve roles, but with the depth both are redshirt possibilities.
James Hearns, a junior, is expected to be opposite Fields on the outside. He'll be pushed by sophomore Henry Famurewa and redshirt freshman Jonathan Greenard. Trevon Young will be miss the entire season as he continues to recover from a broken hip suffered in the Music City Bowl. Newcomers Gary McCrae, a 2015 four-star prospect, and Tabarius Peterson will also push for time.
Linebacker Depth Chart
99 James Hearns (6-3, 248, Jr.)
55 Keith Kelsey (6-1, 236, Sr.)
42 Isaac Stewart (6-2, 245, So.)
32 Stacy Thomas (6-1, 232, Jr.)
53 Amonte Caban (6-1, 248. R-Fr.)
92 Devonte’ Fields (6-4, 242, Sr.)
58 Jonathan Greenard (6-4, 252, R-Fr.)