Post Spring Breakdown: LBs

Previously, Sooners Illustrated provided the latest on the depth chart at the defensive line positions, so now it's time for the linebacker breakdown.

Linebackers:

Starting strong side LB—Ronnell LewisExpect this guy to be a real force this year. The team called him the "Hammer" last year for a reason, one that everyone saw in his special teams play last year: He hits hard. Lewis can bulldoze through people, and as No. 3 NFL Draft pick Gerald McCoy said last year, he could break a brick wall with how hard he hits. With all this said, Lewis progressed nicely this spring and looks in prime shape to have a good season.

Backup strong side LB—Austin BoxThere's no lack of talent with a player like Box behind Lewis. Box racked up 33 tackles last year, third among the linebackers a season ago. He's moved from weak side on the depth chart to strong side this year, but he should be poised to make that switch, and he has also improved as anticipated in spring ball.

Starting middle LB—Tom WortAfter suffering a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear during fall practice prior to the start of the season last year, Wort was faced with the task of regaining his health and coming back better than before. By all indications, he has done that, emerging into the starting spot at the MIKE position. Wort had a decent showing in the Spring Game, racking up a couple of tackles, including one tackle in the backfield for a loss of two yards.

Backup middle LB—Daniel FranklinAfter redshirting his first year at OU in 2008, Frankln played in limited action last year. He participated in six games in reserve duty at the linebacker position and also saw action at the special teams position. While he's not breaking into the starting position over Wort any time soon, he has improved.

Starting weak side LB—Travis LewisHere's the clear cut leader of the linebacking corps. Lewis is the only returning starter from the Sooners' three linebackers a year ago, and he has made that obvious with his developing leadership in the offseason. He has become even more vocal, if that was possible. So, with a guy like Lewis in the group, the Sooner linebackers will be set.

Backup weak side LB—Jaydan BirdBird has the reserve position behind Lewis after playing in 12 games last year in special teams duty. He had a pair of tackles throughout the year, one each against Idaho State and Tulsa. And he cemented his improvement when he had 6.5 tackles for the Red Team in the Spring Game. Bird gives the Sooners another good option in the depth chart.

Status:

1. In great shape

2. Probably in good shape

3. Questionable

4. Not in good shape at all

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