2010 Vanderbilt Preview: Linebackers

Yesterday we discussed the Vanderbilt secondary. Today we'll look at another expected strength of the Commodore football team: linebackers. Chris Marve, John Stokes and Nate Campbell are expected to lead a young but tough unit.

|SEC |LB|DL|RB |WR| OL|QB |ST|

Marve (photo at right) will be starting for his third year for the Commodores after stellar performances in both his freshman and sophomore seasons, where he totaled over 100 tackles each year and finished second in the conference last season in total tackles. Marve's leadership and experience will be essential in leading the young talent of this linebacker group into the tough SEC schedule.

MIDDLE LINEBACKER

Marve will be backed up in the middle by redshirt sophomore Tristan Strong (photo at left) and redshirt freshman Blake Southerland who both appear to be ready to step in for reps in the middle. Strong has been recovering from a season ending knee injury that occurred against Army after he had played in the first six games last season. He possesses all of the tools to step in and contribute heavily this fall. Southerland worked hard last season and contributed on the scout team during his redshirt year. The position is in good hands with Marve. His solid play should continue to be one of the brightest spots for the defense this fall.

STRONGSIDE LINEBACKER

John Stokes returns at the Sam spot after earning three starts and participating in every game last year where he had 44 tackles, 22 solo tackles and 1 fumble recovery. His experience should help solidify the position, but expect Archie Barnes to contribute as well this fall. Barnes participated in every game last season and totaled 15 tackles and 11 solo stops. His playing time increased after the loss of Tristan Strong, but he will be expected to get a lot of valuable playing time this fall. Tristan Strong (photo at right) could also contribute for the Commodores this fall at the Sam spot as well. There is a good possibility that the cycle of moving safeties up to the SAM spot will continue with Micah Powell because his speed could be used to further strengthen the position. It has not yet been determined where incoming freshman Fitz Lassing or Chase Garnham will be playing this fall, but they both appear to be capable of fitting in at the Sam slot.

WEAKSIDE LINEBACKER

There appears to be a battle brewing on the weak side for the starting nod where Nathan Campbell, Dexter Daniels and DeAndre Jones are fighting for the starting spot. Campbell (photo at left) returns to the squad after sitting out last season, but hopes to step in where he left off in 2008. Campbell participated in every game in 2007 and 2008 on special teams and in a reserve role at linebacker. He totaled 8 tackles in each year and his return should further strengthen the position. Jones (photo at right) has the tools to play at either weak side or the middle and could be used at either spot. He contributed on special teams last season and did get some work in the middle late in the season. Daniels (photo at left) contributed on special teams as well last year, but looks to make his presence known this fall with more playing time. All three players are expected to contribute this fall for the Commodores.

Redshirt senior Michael Garcia returns this fall after a season ending injury and hopes to contribute at linebacker along with walk-on redshirt sophomore Dan Sutton. Both are extremely hard workers that hope to make contributions this fall.

While the linebackers are one of the youngest positions on the squad, we look for a very sound year from them despite the inexperience. Their contributions will be essential in helping control opponent's rushing attacks because improvement in this area is needed to ensure the overall success of the 2010 season.

STAN'S PROJECTED STARTERS

SLB John Stokes
MLB Chris Marve
WLB Nate Campbell

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