Practice Tour: Ty Linton

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- As Charlotte Christian defends its NCISAA state title this season, it will once again rely heavily on North Carolina commitment Ty Linton.

"I've been doing kickoff and punt returns, and [playing] on both offense and defense the past two and a half years," Linton said. "… For me, it's kind of just going out there and using my ability the best I can [and] just going out there and playing.

"I love being out on the field. I hate being pulled off the field."

Linton, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound athlete, starts at both running back and weak-side linebacker. With his return, expectations are high for Christian to repeat.

"A guy who made huge plays for us throughout the season and into the playoffs, for him to be able to return and give us that experience for our whole team is huge," Christian head football coach Jason Estep said. "It's not like we're trying to run another guy out there to try to get the results that we got last year with Ty.

"Our chances [of repeating] are good if we stay healthy. But our goal is to take one game at a time. But we feel if we stay healthy, then we can compete every Friday night and put ourselves in the position to at least play for [the championship] game."

Linton has already accomplished a lot, including a state championship and two all-state selections.

"I just want to maintain my accomplishments – win another state championship and get another all-state [award]," Linton said. "Maybe get more tackles, more sacks – just improve on my numbers."

In addition to Linton, Christian's linebacking corps includes two Division I-A prospects – Duke commitment Kelby Brown and Ohio State commitment David Durham.

"We're really just looking forward to the season – there's no pressure," Linton said. "We're three really good friends, we support each other, we back each other up, [and] we coach each other up."

Each of the three fits nicely into Christian's 3-4 scheme.

"All three of them are different," Estep said. "David actually is probably more of a five-technique that puts his hand down, whereas Kelby is more of a MIKE, and Ty is more of an outside linebacker that could even be a strong safety."

Heading into the season, Linton's biggest obstacle is getting back into football condition. His entire summer was spent attending baseball events.

"I've lost a little bit of my weight, but I'm getting it back on there," Linton said. "Conditioning-wise, I'm fine. The only thing I feel like I'm lacking, right now, is my weight. I'm usually around 210 [pounds]. I shouldn't have a problem getting there."

Among the baseball events Linton attended included the "East Coast Pro" prospect showcase in Florida and the "Area Code Games" in California.

"It went really well down in California and Florida," Linton said. "A bunch of pro [scouts] were there and they're saying I could be a top round draft pick."

Football is Linton's first love. However, he is intrigued by the potential baseball opportunities.

"I want to see where I get drafted," Linton said. "But it would have to be a pretty good sum of money for me to pass on going to college, where I can play both football and baseball."

Although he'll play both sports at UNC, Linton will be on football scholarship.

"What really drew me to Carolina, among other things, was the baseball coaches came up to me and said ‘You know, if anything happens with football, we'll pick up your baseball scholarship.' That gave me the security to have my school paid for either way."

Linton says he speaks weekly with Everett Withers, as well as UNC's baseball staff.

For football purposes, Linton will arrive on campus as a safety.

"Baseball really doesn't want me to be at a really high weight where I can't move," Linton said.

"[The football staff] has been talking about [playing] rover or bandit - that's like a safety/linebacker. Butch Davis is like ‘You're the kind of athlete where we could even put you on the offensive side of the ball – the sky is the limit.'"

Linton isn't concerned with where he plays.

"As long as I'm on the field, I'm happy," Linton said. "I love playing the game. They can use me on special teams, they can use me on offense, put me at receiver, safety, or wherever it may be – I'm just happy to be on the field."

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