With two out of three starters returning, the linebacker position figures to be a strength in West Virginia's 2017 defense. David Long, a Will linebacker that had a breakout campaign in his freshman season, said as much when he discussed the attributes of the group.
"Fast and physical," Long said in regard to his skill set "That's how I would describe my game."
"It's pretty much like last year - we''re pretty athletic, we're talkative and we all like to talk out there and we're aggressive. We like to win. (Our size) helps us a lot because we're able to take on bigger guys like (Justin Arndt) did last year."
While there are high expectations around the starting trio, Long is also feeling pretty good about the performances of some of the young linebackers (Brendan Ferns, Adam Hensley, Zach Sandwisch, etc.) as well.
"We have a lot of younger guys who have been stepping up in the spring," said Long. "(Ferns) is doing pretty good and he's coming back from his surgery pretty fast. A lot of the young guys are still learning but they're starting to come together. Hopefully we can all hit it at the same time during fall camp."
Of course now that Long has played in Big 12 games and is entering his third spring practice he will be counted on to be a leader in the linebacker room and that is a role that he is learning to embrace in spring camp.
"I really can sit back and watch the younger guys better themselves. I try to teach them the things that I was taught when I was sitting behind other people."
Another player who will be counted on for leadership is fifth year senior Hodari Christian. Christian, who has provided quality depth for the Mountaineers over the last few seasons, is acclimating to the Sam position after spending most of his career at the Mike. Although it is somewhat new, the McKeesport native says it feels like a more natural fit than the Mike spot.
"I feel like its a comfortable fit for me," said Christian. "Before I was at the Mike position and there's a lot of moving around and a lot of dialect to deal with. At the Sam it's more of a set job that you do. For me it seems like it's more comfortable."