Spring Preview: Linebackers

The early enrollment of freshman Victor Burnett couldn't have come at a better time as the Dawgs try to replace both Donald Butler and E.J. Savannah who have graduated. Today's entry in our continuing spring preview series deals with the linebacking unit and how much work needs to be done during over the next few months before the start of fall camp…

The Players: Sr. Mason Foster; Jr. Cort Dennison; So. Jordan Wallace; Fr. Victor Burnett; RS Fr. Tim Tucker; Jr. Alvin Logan

The Questions: Who replaces Butler in the middle? Besides Foster who else will emerge on the outside? Can Logan be an adequate linebacker after playing receiver and safety the past two years?

Luckily Foster, one of the most productive linebackers in the conference the past two years, returns for his senior season. On a weekly basis, the talented linebacker showed outstanding leadership skills and the desire to improve under the tutelage of linebackers coach Mike Cox and defensive coordinator Nick Holt. He's the top returning tackler on the roster, posting 85, while also forcing six fumbles, notching two sacks and hauling in three interceptions.

He's probably at his best dropping into coverage but this spring, according to Holt, he will move over to the weakside spot to take advantage of his athleticism and Dennison will take over for Butler inside, although he will be challenged by Burnett, an incoming freshman with a ton of talent.

Dennison showed a lot while stepping in for Savannah who struggled to stay healthy. The talented junior-to-be posted 56 tackles as a part-time starter and was very good against the run. He's a bit of a liability in coverage since he's never really played in reverse, but because he picks up things quickly, there's no reason he can't play any of the three linebacker posts.

Burnett's early enrollment bodes well for the team as he was one of the top linebacker recruits on the west coast, choosing Washington over offers from Oklahoma and Tennessee among others. The Culver City prospect is great at stopping the run and he will be given every chance to earn the starting job inside. He'll likely battle Tucker as well as Dennison for the spot, but he's the more natural MIK among the three and if that happens he will push Dennison outside to get the best three linebackers on the field.

Tucker redshirted last fall, so it remains to be seen what he can do, but he was solid as a practice player earning Scout Team MVP honors after the season.

Wallace has a chance to be a special player and will likely battle for one of the outside spots. However, he still needs to add bulk and the hope is he continues to put in the work and shows up ready to compete again for playing time in the fall.

At this point, Logan is a bit of an "X-factor" with the Huskies since we haven't seen much of him at linebacker. He's very athletic and he's got the size (6'3', 230) to be a factor. Apparently, the coaches were pleasantly surprised by his play during practices this past season so spring will be a huge opportunity for him to show them how he's progressed.

Coming in over the summer will be a host of talented athletes the Huskies can use for competition in the depth as well as young men who will be huge contributors on special teams.

Darius Waters, Cooper Pelluer and Princeton Fuimaono all will fill in on the outside while Garrett Gilliland could end up inside or outside as well.

The best of the bunch could prove to be Chris Young, but his iffy status as far as qualifying is concerned can't be overlooked.

Other position previews...

Spring Preview: Quarterbacks
Spring Preview: Offensive Line
Spring Preview: Running Backs
Spring Preview: Wide Receivers
Spring Preview: Tight Ends
Spring Preview: Defensive Line

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