Positional Preview: Linebackers

Today's installment of our continuing series of previews covers the linebackers. Linebacker coach Bob Diaco talks about the players in that unit and his fiery attitude on the field.

Bob Diaco joined the WMU staff from Eastern Michigan. Diaco is a two-time All-Big Ten linebacker from Iowa, an All-American in high school and the seventh leading tackler in Iowa school history.

Diaco brings a fiery personality to the field everyday. "I don't know that it's a thought out thing for me," said Diaco. "I just try to be true to who I am as a person. I love football and it excites me and I envy these players. I draw energy from [the players] and hopefully they draw some energy from me."

Leading the linebacker corps is sophomore Paul Tithof, a freshman All-American last season, and senior Mike Giorgianni who is in his second season after transferring from West Valley JC in California.

"They're some very intense people, they have some linebacking intangibles, they're not necessarily the biggest guys but they make up for it in impact speed," said Diaco.

Giorgianni had only been with the team a single week before earning the starting job and only missed starting two games last season due to a leg injury. He finished last season with 52 tackles including 11 against Bowling Green.

Tithof finished last season 88 tackles to rank fourth on the team behind Jason Babin, Kevin Ford and Jack Gitler. He started in all but two games; missing the final two due to injury and four times registered more then 10 tackles.

Last season was a trial by fire for the linebackers with the graduations of Bryan Lape and Jason Malloy as well as the injury to Josh Behrens forcing head coach Gary Darnell to throw players in with little division 1 experience. "All those pieces that were gone last year are back now," said Darnell.

Adding depth to the linebackers are Dan Steinau and Josh Behrens as a senior and junior respectively. Steinau, like Giorgianni, is another junior college transfer entering his second season as a backup to Tithof. Behrens is the feel good story of the year coming back from a debilitating back injury after starting four games in 2002 in place of Malloy.

"We've got a good rotation of people that can play football at a high level," said Diaco. "We're not incredibly deep, but we have enough to travel and play winning football. We travel with five guys, we'll go with five unless coach Darnell changes it."

Fighting for the fifth spot on the travel team are Steve Robbins and Joe Gordon, both juniors. Expected to be redshirted is freshman Jonathan Curtis, an all-state player in high school that has walked on with the Broncos. Darryl McFadden, last season's defensive Stallion of the year, is in his second year is practicing with the team despite being academically ineligible for the season.

With the additional depth at linebacker this season and a couple young players waiting in the wings the position should be in much deter shape then last season.

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