Depth chart end of April:
This may be the best set of linebackers in school history as each position carries several seasons of experience. Keith Ellison, Trent Bray and Chaz Scott are the heart and soul of the Beaver defense and will be relied upon for leadership on and off the field.
Ellison had an excellent first year in Corvallis and got better as he settled in with the team. He is quick, smart and has the speed to stick with most receivers. Plus, like his fellow senior teammates he is superb at wrapping up the competition and always seems to be around the ball.
Much has been penned about Bray and I am not going to say anything new. Smart and experienced, Bray is one of the top linebackers in the conference. He took more of a leadership role last season and will take an even larger leadership role this year. The Washington native is a player the whole team can look up to and learn from when he is on the practice field and in the game. He is like having a coach in the game.
Scott is one of the more emotional players on the team. Fiery, aggressive and fast, he is one of the largest linebackers on the team and loves to deliver the big hit. He has been itching to grab a starting spot and slid into the role at the end of 2004 as Jonathan Pollard tussled with injuries. Scott is also a standout special teams man.
Andy Darkins, Alan Darlin, and Derrick Doggett are set to take the linebacking tradition to new heights a year from now. Each played a vital role on special teams a year ago and will serve in similar capacity in addition to giving their mentors rest. The three “D’s” are eager to learn and are taking full advantage of playing alongside Bray, Scott and Ellison.
Darkins is the thickest of the group with excellent lower body strength. He is smart, active and can bring the pain. Darlin is the largest of the sophomores, but he is quick and has good technique. Doggett is long and lanky with excellent range. Think of a cornerback with linebacker skills and instincts. He is one of the top athletes on the squad.
Eric Moala signed with the Beavers two years ago and joined the team for the first time this year after his Mormon mission. As one of the older players on the team is body is more developed. Moala is still learning the system and getting used to playing football again. He will most likely redshirt and then will compete for a staring role next season.
Dennis Christopher finally made it to Corvallis after having academic problems. He is long, in a similar mold to Doggett, but has a long way to go in learning how to play the field. Isiah Cook is yet another lanky ‘backer. Like many of his counterparts he loves to hit and is an excellent athlete. Cook may participate on special teams.
Walk-ons Casey Noack and Eddie Stamm face an extremely difficult task of grabbing playing time and will not see the field in ’05.
Top spring performer:
The three seniors. They commanded the field and seemed to be in almost every play. Confident, and maybe even a little bit cocky, they expect to make a big impact in 2005.
Spring linebackers summary in three sentences or less:
Ellison, Bray, and Scott will anchor the entire defense. Doggett, Darkins and Darlin are waiting for their shot. Bottom line, one of the deepest positions on the team.
Thurston and Cornell will redshirt for certain as the team is already two deep
at every linebacker position