The top backup is Fletcher Session. Prior to Saldi's return Session was penciled into the starting spot on the weak side. Fletcher has also seen time at middle linebacker in practices. Geremy Woods will probably backup at both the middle and strong side positions. Raymond Pierce and Jason Wesley complete the list of backups. Paul Williams is expected to redshirt, but there is a chance coaches will use him if necessary.
This group should perform solidly this season. The starters bring a nice mix of speed and strength at all three positions. John Saldi showed how good he could be last season. Saldi started the final eight games of the season, and made his presence felt, mostly in the opposing backfield. Mike Smith is the most experienced linebacker among the starters. He has added speed in the off-season, and should do fine on the strong side. Brock Stratton doesn't look like a freshman on the practice field. Stratton has plenty of speed, and may be one of the hardest hitters on the team.
The new defensive scheme will allow the linebackers to showcase their talent, especially their speed. This scheme allows for more blitzing, which will benefit guys like Saldi. It also allows a more physical approach to the passing game, something that Stratton has proved to be particularly adept at doing. The linebackers should be one of the top units on the defensive side of the ball this season.