Senior Highlights: Shayne Hale

If Panther fans have learned anything over the years it is how valuable a quality middle linebacker is anchoring the defense. H.B. Blades did it for a few years and then Scott McKillop earned all sorts of accolades for his play. McKillop is a senior and it's time to groom a replacement.

#45 MLB/DE Shayne Hale Video 1

For the better part of the 2007 recruiting season it appeared as though Pitt had little or no shot at Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway linebacker Shayne Hale. Enter Cameron Saddler and his engaging personality. Hale and Saddler are closer than brothers and the dynamic duo wanted to stay together. Hale spurned offers from the nation's best and Dave Wannstedt landed himself his highest rated defensive recruit of his present tenure.

Several schools recruited Hale, 6-foot-4, 240-pounds, as a defensive end. The talented Gator doesn't want to hear that and at Pitt he should have a chance to stay at linebacker. Had Hale chosen to head to a more prominent program with a lot of linebacker depth he probably would have been playing with his hand on the ground.

Hale should be a sponge in the fall and soak in everything he can from all everything defensive leader Scott McKillop.

Senior Stat Line: Hale recorded 114 tackles, including 25 for loss, nine sacks, three pass breakups and three forced fumbles. Hale was named to the "Fabulous 22" team by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the "Terrific 25" by the Tribune-Review. He was also selected for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

In two seasons, Hale put up some amazing stats including 219 tackles, 38 for loss, 24 sacks, 7 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries.

Hale: "I'm strong and pretty fast. I can overpower most guys and play hard. I'm tough and reckless out on the field. I don't care about anything else but the game when I'm playing.

"I want to improve on everything. I need to improve my leg strength and be more punishing when I drive guys back." Evaluation: Hale has an incredible combination of size, speed and athleticism. He plays the linebacker position with the speed of a safety. Hale shows excellent lateral pursuit, is physical at the point of attack and is a sure tackler. Often times he is a big hitter that will just bury the ball carrier. Hale can take on and defeat blocks and has the natural instincts to find the ball and make the play. One knock on Hale is that he at times doesn't always play with the same intensity, when he does he has the ability to take over a game. Hale is big enough and talented enough that he could play as a true freshman.

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