Linebacker Time

Two seasons ago Marshall lost All Everything middle linebacker Mario Harvey. Harvey, currently a member of the Indianapolis Colts was the man who was able to shut down opposing offenses similar to that of departing defensive end Vinny Curry.

The difference was, Harvey, playing off the line, was able to slow down some of the explosively quick passing attacks that is prominent in the Conference USA. Curry, although dominant, was sometimes made obsolete due to the quick style attacks that prevented him from getting any rush. Refer to the Houston and the Tulsa blowouts as examples.

The primary goal this season was to get linebackers who could replace departing seniors Tyson Gale and George Carpenter. Gale and Carpenter were solid, but did not have the speed to run down crossing wide receivers or running backs.

Marshall returns two players who received playing time last season in true sophomore Jermaine Holmes and redshirt junior Billy Mitchell. Mitchell, once touted as the next Cody Slate for the Herd, was moved to linebacker and has really improved his play.

One big addition from within the team is the staff moving former starting linebacker Devin Arrington back to that position after spending last year as the starting safety due to injuries at that position. Arrington is ready to get started with his senior year back at his old position and will be doing so with a new number. Arrington will be wearing the number eleven worn last season by senior wide receiver Wayne Bonner. Arrington provided speed, and a ton of athletic ability, not to mention experience, to a position of need.

Two players made big time jumps in the spring. Freshman Cortez Carter, and sophomore Deon Meadows. Carter really stepped up his play at the middle linebacker position and showed the ability to make big plays from that spot. He shined in the Green and White game and even turned a sack/fumble into a defensive touchdown. Carter received ample first team reps as the 15 practice off season session came to an end.

Meadows saw playing time last season on special teams. It was limited but he showed the speed and athletic ability which did nothing but verify as to why he was so highly touted coming out of high school.

The wild card at the linebacker position is the same individual who is the wild card at the defensive end position. That player is redshirt freshman and extremely talented Armonze Daniel. Daniel is an incredibly gifted football player who could possibly play either linebacker or the defensive end position. He currently has the size to do either, and do it well. It is my personal opinion that he is best served to play the end position.

One thing is certain, play at this particular position simply has to improve. Houston and Tulsa will be coming to Huntington to play this season, less than a year after combining for 122 points, mostly through the air. The Herd also travels to East Carolina who throws the ball nearly 60% of the time as well.

There were a few linebackers in this past seasons recruiting class. Those guys are Ryan Riedel, Deyonte Henderson, Devon Johnson and Gary Thompson.

There are two other questions surrounding this position. Number one surrounds returning players T.J. Ross and Raheem Waiters. Both players are excellent on special teams. Both players are very athletic and fast. If one of the aforementioned players should happen to stumble, either of these guys could step up and possibly even increase the athletic ability of the position.

The second question surrounds former Georgia recruit Kent Turene, and the question is simple. Is he eligible to play this season? If so, all that needs to be said about his ability is the fact he was recruited and signed with the University of Georgia.

Here is my look at what I think the depth chart will look like when August is over:

Outside Linebacker:

1. Devin Arrington 2. Deon Meadows 3. Raheem Waiters

Outside Linebacker:

1. Billy Mitchell 2. TJ Ross

Middle Linebacker:

1. Jermaine Holmes 2. Cortez Carter

These are based on me thinking Daniel will play defensive end, and Turene will not be eligible. If they both play linebacker, and Turene is eligible, then I think both will be in the two deep, and one or both could actually start.

I currently don't believe that any of the incoming freshman will get any playing time, even on special teams. They are athletic, but raw. Riedel could see some special team action early however.

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