Everybody knows what a big blow the departure of David Mayo and Mike Orakpo is for the Texas State defense and linebacking core. Replacing two top-tier talents will not be an easy task for the Bobcats, but it is a crucial one. They don’t have the next David Mayo on their roster, at least not yet, but what they do have is a hungry group ready to make their names known. Probable Starters: (Stinger LB) Stephen Smith 6’3” 221lbs Jr. OR
Teron Fitzgerald 6’4” 227lbs Jr.OR
Jerrid Jeter Gilmon 6'1" 230lbs Sr.
Trey McGowan 6’0” 247lbs Sr.
McGowan was second in tackles last year with 80, 45 solo, while starting seven of the 11 games he appeared in. He's expected to step into the Mike spot and take command of the Bobcats’ defense this year. His experience and production can be the catalyst for the defense in order to help restore the Legion of Doom moniker. He showed that he's fully capable of racking up double digit tackle totals and punishing any ball carrier or receiver that crosses his line of path.
So who lines up next to McGowan? That's a really good question and there isn't a clear cut answer yet, but a trio will be fighting for that spot. Smith and JJG have started and seen meaningful reps at the position. With Mayo and Orakpo both gone, this is the chance for either one of them to assert themselves next to McGowan. Smith can also play inside at the "Mike" and Head Coach Dennis Franchione has gone as far to say that JJG could see time at defensive end and with his athleticism needs to see the field more often.
Mid-year transfer Teron Fitzgerald really impressed during the spring and is looking to carry that momentum going forward into the fall. His size and speed make him a very good candidate to line up on the outside at the "Stinger", and like JJG, could very well be coming off the edge on the d-line. He played sparingly his first year at Copiah-Lincoln CC in Mississippi but he starred at linebacker the next year, helping his team to a conference championship. He has the size and athletic ability to be a factor if he can lock down some of the fundamentals. In high school he played both linebacker and wide receiver for three years, also lettered in track and basketball.
2-Deep and Contributors:
Darnell Dailey 6’1” 230lbs RS Jr.
Kerry Walker 6'3" 225lbs Fr.
Bryan London 6'2" 215lbs Fr.
Bo Anderson 6’1” 220lbs Fr.
Jordan Mittie 6’3” 235lbs Fr.
The competition is thick amongst the reserves and there's a big infusion of young talent. After transferring from Contra Costa CC, then red shirting last year, Daily gained some traction with an impressive outing this spring. It’s not likely he’ll take a starters spot, but is aiming to be a solid contributor for the Bobcats this year.
After attending Navy Prep for one year, then sitting out last season, Mittie will be going into his first year playing for the Bobcats. He has a chance to compete for playing time but his inexperience will keep him off the field more than on it. He also arrived on campus in January and has shown good football smarts. As a freshman, he's rock solid and physically ready to play. I could see him making an impact on special teams this year.
For the true freshman, London, Anderson, and Walker, all have a lot of upside and will get some great experience with their first year in the program, but neither is expected be a huge factor this upcoming season with five upperclassmen in front of them. Because of his size, Walker could also end up as a defensive end, time will tell if he's kept at linebacker or moved down to the line.
This season will be a challenging one for the Texas State linebackers. If McGowan and the eventual starter at the "Stinger" position can cement themselves as the leaders and the main contributors on defense, then the Bobcats won’t have to rely on the inexperienced underclassmen behind them. Ideally it would be nice if the ‘Cats could just lean on the starters to do the heavy lifting this season while the others gain more experience. However, we all know that in the world of college football hardly anything ever goes according to plan. Buckle up BobcatNation, should be one heck of a "Position Battle."
Position Battle: LB's
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