It's never easy to try and replace an All-Big Ten linebacker such as Damien Wilson, especially with the kind of production he accumulated over the past two season accounting for almost 200 tackles and 16 tackles-for-loss.
Good thing that the Gophers linebacking core has just the right mix of experience and youth heading into the 2015 season to keep fans at bay. Upperclassmen Jack Lynn and De'Vondre Campbell both played significant snaps last season and are going to be counted upon heavily in 2015. Sophomores Jonathan Celestin and Everett Williams also played snaps as true freshmen and took another step forward this spring. Both are going to challenging for starting spots this fall.
Spring surprise: Julian Huff shines
After being overlooked coming into the spring as a two-star recruit, Huff throughout spring proved that ranking was much too low. The true freshman really grasped the Gopher defensive concepts on the fly and became one of Minnesota's hardest hitters.
He's definitely in consideration to be in the two-deeps this fall and one freshman to keep an eye on going forward in his career. At the very least, Huff should be a factor on special teams this fall as the Gophers could use his physicality and explosiveness.
Question that still needs answering: Can Campbell take the next step?
After coming in with high expectations in 2014, Campbell has met those after playing in every game since his career at Minnesota started. Now with the NFL looming, Gophers fans expectations for Campbell are at an all-time high with his season season approaching. With Claeys in nickel a majority of the time on defense, Campbell has to continue to improve on his drops into coverage and shedding blocks, but Minnesota fans know he has the athletic ability to do so. The question still remains though, can Campbell continue to progress for a stellar senior season.
What does the future hold at linebacker?
With only one senior on the roster at linebacker, the future remains very bright for the Gophers heading into the future. With Julian Huff already proving he's going to have a place on this team in the near future, the staff will be gaining Texas linebacker Jaylen Waters who they hope will be someone to take over the Mike linebacker spot in a few years. A lot of optimism remains about the Minnesota linebackers heading into the next few years.
Projected depth chart:
1 - Jack Lynn (6-3, 238) RJr.
2 - Julian Huff (5-11, 220) Fr.
Nick Rallis (5-11, 228) RJr.
1 - Cody Poock (6-2, 230) RSo.
2 - Everett Williams (6-1, 231) So.
3 - Chris Wipson (6-2, 216) RSo.
1 - De'Vondre Campbell (6-5, 239) RSr.
2 - Jonathan Celestin (6-1, 224) So.
3 - Rayfield Dixon (6-3, 225) RSo.
Fall Camp Primer: Linebackers
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