Bill's Combine Research: Outside Linebackers

In Part 11 of our in-depth series, we introduce you to the on-the-field talents and the off-the-field stories of the 19 players listed as outside linebackers. Take our one-week free trial today and get all of our coverage from the Scouting Combine.

Packer Report's Bill Huber is getting ready for the Scouting Combine, and is sharing some of his research of the 328 players who will be testing for and talking to the Green Bay Packers and the NFL's other 31 teams. In Part 11, we tell you about the 19 players listed at outside linebacker. This list is from National Football Scouting and does not include the defensive ends who will project to outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. All heights and weights are from the schools and, therefore, not official.

Emmanuel Acho, Texas (6-2, 245): The brother of former Texas standout Sam Acho brings some of the same credentials. While Sam was a productive pass-rusher, Acho finished with merely eight sacks in 26 career starts. As a senior, he was a first-team all-conference selection with 131 tackles, 19 tackles for losses, three sacks, 18 pressures and six passes defensed. Plus, like his brother, Acho is a high-character player. He was Academic All-Big 12 and was a finalist for the Lowe's Senior Class Award and the Wuerffel Trophy, plus was a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy (the academic version of the Heisman). He, Sam and their father, Sonny, take a medical mission trip to Nigeria each summer. Sonny and Christie were born in Nigeria.


Combine Preview

Part 1: 19 Quarterbacks.

Part 2: 30 Running backs.

Part 3: 47 Wide receivers.

Part 4: 14 Tight ends.

Part 5: 20 Interior offensive linemen.

Part 6: 35 Offensive tackles.

Part 7: 22 Safeties .

Part 8: 37 Cornerbacks .

Part 9: 31 Defensive tackles .

Part 10: 14 Inside linebackers .

Ryan Baker, LSU (6-0, 236): A two-year starter, Baker's senior season included 58 tackles, 3.5 tackles for losses and 1.5 sacks. He was more impactful as a junior, with seven sacks and 11 tackles for losses. Baker's mom went to Florida and his dad was a Florida State fan. According to his mom, she heard the news from the butcher at the grocery store.

Nigel Bradham, Florida State (6-3, 240): Bradham led the Seminoles in tackles in each of his final three seasons, with 86 tackles, 9.5 tackles for losses, two sacks and two interceptions as a senior. "Beast" is tattooed on one arm and "Mode" on the other. The top-ranked linebacker in the nation out of Crawford HIgh School in Wakulla, Fla., where was a star tight end and linebacker. He stayed close to home by going to FSU and he remained active in the community, as well. This past spring, he was a member of the ACC Top Six for Service for his work with the Capital City Youth Services in Tallahassee.

Zach Brown, North Carolina (6-2, 230): A part-time starter as a sophomore and junior, Brown earned first-team all-ACC honors and was a Butkus Award semifinalist this season after leading the Tar Heels with 105 tackles. He added 13.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and four pass breakups. Brown closed his career with a season-high 14 tackles in North Carolina's bowl game against Missouri. As a senior at Wilde Lake High School, he was the Baltimore Sun's 2007 wrestler of the year after going 29-0 to win the 215-pound state title. He also won Maryland state titles in the 100 and 200 meters.

Miles Burris, San Diego State (6-3, 235): As a senior, Burris was named the Aztecs' defensive player of the year and won the President's Award for High Academic Achievement. Burris picked up his second consecutive first-team all-Mountain West selection, the first San Diego State linebacker to accomplish the feat since All-American Kirk Morrison did so from 2002 through 2004. The senior led the Aztecs in tackles (78), tackles for losses (19.5), sacks (eight) and fumble recoveries (three). As a junior, he had 20 tackles for losses and 9.5 sacks. Burris wore No. 9 in honor of his favorite player, the late Titans quarterback Steve McNair.

Lavonte David, Nebraska (6-1, 225): As a senior, the undersized David piled up 133 tackles, 13 tackles for losses, 4.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. He won the Big Ten's inaugural Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year Award and was Nebraska's first first-team all-American linebacker in 11 years. As a junior, he set a school record with 152 tackles. David started two seasons for the Cornhuskers after playing at Fort Scott Community College. In high school, he played at prep powerhouse Miami Northwestern, which won national titles in 2006 and 2007. Four University of Miami players in this draft — defensive lineman Marcus Forston, quarterback Jacory Harris, linebacker Sean Spence, receiver Tommy Streeter — are from the school.

DeMario Davis, Arkansas State (6-3, 230): Davis was named first-team all-Sun Belt as a junior and senior. In 2011, he tied for the team lead with 70 tackles and finished his career with 230 tackles, 22.5 tackles for losses, seven sacks and four interceptions. He was just the second Arkansas State player in the last 32 years to play in the Senior Bowl. At Brandon (Miss.) High School, Davis was a big-play receiver as a sophomore and junior before playing linebacker and receiver as a senior. Arkansas State won the recruiting battle, and the defensive coaches won Davis' services.

Darius Fleming, Notre Dame (6-2, 255): Fleming has played outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. As a senior, he started all 13 games with 3.5 sacks, seven tackles for losses, one interception, finishing fifth on the team with 55 sacks. He was more impactful as a junior with six sacks and 11 tackles for losses, both team highs. Picking his high school while growing up in Chicago, Fleming considered going to Brother Rice because of its basketball and bowling programs.

Josh Kaddu, Oregon (6-3, 235): Kaddu was a full-time starter in his final two seasons, earning first-team honors in the Pac-12 as a senior. He had 6.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for losses in 2011, giving him season totals of 10 sacks and 20 tackles for losses. His father, Fred, was a native of Uganda and the heavyweight boxing champion of the 1987 All-Africa Games. Fred and Margaret Kaddu and the oldest of their five children moved to the California before Josh and the other kids were born. Josh thought about following his dad's athletic path, but his mom channeled his son's aggressive tendencies toward the football field.

Terrell Manning, North Carolina State (6-3, 244): Manning entered the draft following a junior season in which he tallied team-leading figures of 5.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for losses. He added three interceptions, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries to be named second-team all-ACC, even though he missed the first two games of the season after knee surgery. He redshirted in 2008 following knee surgery stemming from the final game of his senior season at Scotland County High School in Laurindale, N.C. As a senior, he recorded a dizzying 219 tackles.

Brandon Marshall, Nevada (6-1, 245): Marshall started three-and-a-half seasons, capping a productive time with a career-high 102 tackles. With 10 tackles for losses, he finished with 40 for his career, good for fifth in school history. He formed an inseparable friendship with inside linebacker James-Michael Johnson. Both started as redshirt freshmen. Johnson ranks third in school history with 46 tackles for losses.

Tyler Nielsen, Iowa (6-4, 235): Nielsen started all 20 games in which he played over his final two seasons. As a senior, he was an honorable mention on the all-Big Ten team with 73 tackles, four tackles for losses and one sack. His junior season ended with a fractured vertebrae in his neck, an injury that kept him in a neck brace for three months. A high-character player, he was academic all-Big Ten all four seasons, a candidate for the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award and a semifinalist for the academic version of the Heisman Trophy. His younger brother, Nick, just concluded his junior season with Iowa. He didn't catch any passes as a wide receiver after spending his first two years at safety.

Keenan Robinson, Texas (6-3, 240): Robinson started all 39 games over his final three seasons. Before his senior season, he raised his bench press from 405 pounds to 450. With that hard work, he was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, which goes to college football's best linebacker as a senior. He piled up 105 tackles, including one sack and 10 tackles for losses, as well as two forced fumbles. He finished with back-to-back seasons of 100-plus tackles. Robinson is a solid citizen, having earned his degree and mentored middle-school students.


Spence leads out the Canes.
Steve Mitchell/US Presswire
— Sean Spence, Miami (6-0, 224): Even while missing the season-opening game, Spence finished fifth in the ACC with 106 tackles. He wa a finalist for the Butkus Award in each of his final two seasons. For his career, he led all active players with 47 tackles for losses, including 14 as a senior, and added 10.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. His position coach, Michael Barrow — who started 153 games in 11 NFL seasons — called Spence the "best linebacker in college football, bar none." His defensive coordinator, former Packers linebacker Mark D'Onofrio, called Spence a "once-in-a-lifetime" player to coach. As a 205-pound freshman, he was the ACC's Defensive Rookie of the Year.

— Stephen Stupar, Penn State (6-1, 234): The native of State College, Pa., stayed home to play for Penn State and to follow in the footsteps of his father, Stephen, who was a lineman for Penn State from 1976 through 1979. As a senior, he started nine games and was honorable mention all-Big Ten with 80 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Stupar, who graduated in May 2011 with a degree in film-video, was named to the Big Ten's all-academic team all four seasons. A brother, Jonathan, played tight end for Virginia and the Buffalo Bills. One of his uncles is Jeff Hostetler, who quarterbacked Penn State (and West Virginia) and led the Giants to a Super Bowl championship.

Danny Trevathan, Kentucky (6-1, 232): Trevathan made 143 tackles as a senior, leading the Southeastern Conference for the second consecutive season. Trevathan ranked fifth in the nation with 11.92 tackles per game. A true playmaker, he led the nation's linebackers with five forced fumbles and was second among linebackers with four interceptions. He added 11.5 tackles for losses and three sacks. He ranks 10th in school history with 374 tackles. In Kentucky history, no linebacker had earned All-America honors. Trevathan did it as a junior and senior. At Leesburg (Fla.) High School, Trevathan was a running back (he was recruited by Florida to carry the ball) and safety.

Courtney Upshaw, Alabama (6-2, 265): On a defense of playmakers, Upshaw was top dog for the national champions. As a senior, he had team highs of 8.5 sacks, 17 tackles for losses, 11 quarterback hits and two forced fumbles. He was a finalist for the Butkus Award and the Lombardi Award (best linebacker or interior lineman). Even while slowed by a high-ankle sprain, he tallied seven sacks and 14.5 tackles for losses as a junior. The football coach at Eufaula (Ala.) High School, Dan Klages, first saw Upshaw while coaching a youth football camp. Upshaw was in fourth or fifth grade at the time and easily the tallest kid there. Then, during a game of touch football, Upshaw came up crying after getting hit. ""Oh, my God, he's a big softie. He'll never amount to anything," Klages recalled in a superb story by AL.com.

Tahir Whitehead, Temple (6-1, 225): A second-team choice in the MAC, Whitehead was third on the team with 70 tackles, including five sacks, 13.5 tackles for losses, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. At West Side High School in Newark, N.J., Whitehead played safety, wide receiver, tight end and running back for the 2007 state champions. Temple was the only school to offer a scholarship.

Kyle Wilber, Wake Forest 6-5, 240): Wilber, playing in Wake's 3-4 scheme, was second on the team with 70 tackles and had a team-high 3.5 sacks as a senior. He made more impact plays as a junior, finishing with 65 tackles, six sacks and 14.5 tackles for losses. He missed seven games as a sophomore with a broken leg. Wilber, who bounced around from one relative to another as a child, was working toward a double-major in communications and sociology. He arrived at Wake as a 190-pound defensive end.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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