Spring Preview - Linebackers

Thin on numbers, but not on talent. The Hurricanes will have five linebackers for spring practice and the three new starters starred on special teams last year. They are ready to make the jump to full-time players and become important parts of the Hurricane defense.

Coach: Vernon Hargreaves (7th Year). Hargreaves is in charge of the main ingredient of Miami's 4-3 defense. In his six previous years a linebacker has led the team in tackles each season. This year might be his biggest challenge yet as he replaces two three-year starters in Jonathan Vilma and D.J. Williams.

Returning (5):
JR Leon Williams………(6-4, 235)……13 games-1 start
SO Tavares Gooden……(6-1, 220) ……13-0
JR Roger McIntosh …….(6-3, 235)……12-0
FR Jon Beason………….(6-1, 220) ……2-0 (medical redshirt)
FR Glenn Cook………….(6-1, 220) ……redshirt

Lost (5):
Jonathan Vilma…..127 tackles…1 sack
D.J. Williams………82 tackles…6 sacks
Darrell McClover…..37 tackles…2 sacks
Jarrell Weaver………7 tackles…0 sacks
Carl Walker…………5 tackles…0 sacks

Spring Depth Chart (2003 Stats)

Strongside

1. McIntosh…23 tackles…0 sacks
2. Cook……..redshirt

Middle

1. Williams….23 tackles…0 sacks
2. Beason……..2 tackles…0 sacks

Weakside

1. Gooden….10 tackles…0 sacks

Player to Watch: Tavares Gooden

The Hurricanes lose five linebackers to graduation including three-time starters Vilma and Williams. At Miami, when stars leave new ones step up. This year is no different.

McIntosh is probably the most talented of the group and can flat-out line people up. When you draw up what a linebacker should look like, you end up with McIntosh. He stands 6-3 and weighs 235 pounds and is very athletic. Just ask him to do a back flip if you arent convinced by the way he plays.

Williams takes over for Vilma in the middle after being in the program for three years. The Brooklyn native is another physical specimen, but at times has struggled making proper calls on the field. His teammates have confidence in him to get the job done after having stellar practices throughout the year. Williams just needs to translate that in game situations.

Gooden is another athletic linebacker on the roster. He can run, jump, and works extremely hard. Coach Coker recently recalled a time during two-a-days when the team had a hard workout and Coker went up to him to see how he was doing. Gooden's responded, "thanks coach for recruiting me." Coker just laughed.

Beason is the newcomer to the group after starting out last season as a safety before moving to fullback. He switched to linebacker in late-February, early March and it is a move he feels comfortable with. Beason has developed a good relationship with a lot of his teammates and that will help him on the field as a middle linebacker.

Cook moves to strongside making room for Beason, his high school teammate. Beason asks Cook for advice whenever he needs it and will continue to do so throughout the spring. Cook is another very heady player on the Hurricane defense and has gained weight since arriving to Coral Gables.

Christopher Stock is a Staff Columnist for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@grassy.com.

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