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Purdue Football: Linebacker Breakdown/Analysis/Synopsis

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A position with quite a bit of depth for a change.

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Purdue Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Linebacker is actually a position that we have quite a bit of depth at. Seniors, Ja’Whuan Bentley and Danny Ezechukwu lead a strong group. Along with up and coming sophomore Markus Bailey, who has all B1G potential. This is a position group that was recruited pretty well in the past era, probably because Marcus Freeman was in charge of this group and he was a good coach.

I have high expectations for this group this upcoming season. They will have to mask the deficiencies that our defensive line will have in 2017. You guys saw the depth at DL yesterday, so you know what I am talking about.

These linebackers will be the main line to stopping the run game, Coach Holt has said his linebackers need to make plays, we have the guys to do that.

Starters:

Will (Weakside LB) : Markus Bailey - 6’1”, 230 Pounds, Sophomore

Markus came on the scene last year. He was a redshirt freshman, as the year before he played in the first 3 games and blew his knee out, so, he got a medical. Last year, he has a total of 106 tackles, that is solo and assists combined, as well as having 4 interceptions. We get him 3 more years, enjoy, he is really good.

Mike (Middle LB): Ja’ Whuan Bentler - 6’3”, 250 Pounds, Senior

Bentley has been good since he stepped on campus, he will probably be an NFL draftee next spring barring a injury. He is a physical specimen and has anchored our defense for 3 years when he has been healthy. He is one of the best Linebackers we have had here in a long time.

Sam (Strongside LB): Danny Ezechukwu - 6’2”, 245 Pounds, Senior

Danny E has his ups and his downs, but he is super quick for a Linebacker. See how he hawked down Jackson Anthrop in the spring game. He shows flashes of being great, then he has mental lapses too. I expect a lot from him this season.

Reserves:

Will: Sawyer Dawson - 6’1”, 230 Pounds, Sophomore

He came with the same class as Bailey, he will fill in at Will next year probably and and Bailey will slide into the middle linebacker spot.

Mike: Garrett Hudson - 6’3”, 245 Pounds, Senior

Son of Coach Hudson, has toughed it out through his dad being fired, and multiple coaching changes. He is solid, a really good back up.

Sam: T.J. McCollum - 6’3”, 235 Pounds, Senior, Grad Transfer WKU

5th year guy from WKU, will probably get plenty of playing time with us. Might push Danny E for the starting gig, he is really good, had over 100 tackles at WKU two years ago, injured last year, still was 2nd on the team in tackles.

Hybrid OLB/Edge Rusher: Rob Simmons - 6’6”, Sophomore

I am in love with his potential. He will be great off the edge, hybrid type LB.

Deep Reserves:

Dezwan Polk -Campbell - 6’3”, 215 Pounds, Senior

A senior, we will see what happens here in the coming months with his role on the team.

Semisi Fakasiieiki - 6’3”, 240 Pounds, RS Freshman

Big strong kid from Compton, still needs some work.

Incoming Freshman:

Cornell Jones - 6’2”, 225 Pounds, 2*

Florida kid with a lot of speed. A ton of speed.

Robert McWilliams - 6’4”, 200 Pounds, 2*

Same story as Cornell, Florida kid with a lot of speed, high ceiling, late signee.

Tobias Larry - 6’2”, 190 Pounds, 2*

Probably best talent for incoming frosh, needs some serious work in the weight room.

Derrick Barnes - 6’2”, 230 Pounds, 2*

His rivals page has him as a RB, but I am pretty sure we recruited him for LB.

This is one of our deepest positions, I think Coach probably recruits it hard for 2018, as we don’t have much past the seniors, then it is a couple sophomores then freshman. Might be a spot for a couple of JuCo transfers.

We should expect a lot from this group and get a lot, they are really really good.