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Purdue Football: Looking Ahead, Linebackers

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A position group that graduated no one!

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Purdue Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

While Purdue did not lose a linebacker to graduation, they did lose Tobias Larry, as he left the program before the bowl game. Larry would have been a back up Outside Linebacker this coming year, so our depth at Linebacker takes another hit.

We were probably one of the luckiest teams last year. We had very little depth at linebacker and we did not sustain a lengthy injury to any starting linebacker. A few plays may have been missed, but nothing major.

We return our three starting linebackers in Markus Bailey, Derrick Barkes and Cornel Jones.

Jones is the thumper of the group, a linebacker with a mean streak, quite frankly he is a bad ass. Bailey is returning instead of heading to the league, where he would have been picked in the NFL draft, a linebacker with his speed and tackling ability almost never goes undrafted and Barnes, who is going to head our LEO position, where he will rush the pass a ton.

But, we have up and coming linebackers in the program also, Jaylan Alexander played a ton last year. Jack Smith is coming off a redshirt and is a speedy linebacker. You also have Jonah Williams, a walk on from West Lafayette High School who has the body of a division 1 football player.

The incoming class is a bit more raw than the past classes in terms of playing now ability, but I do believe Wahlberg with his speed will see the field in some capacity and Saunders with his athletic ability will also see the field.

We are starting to build more depth there and getting linebackers that fit the mold that is needed in the Holt system, long, athletic guys that can fly all over the field.

Losses:

Tobias Larry - Left Program

Returning:

Markus Bailey - Senior, 6’1”, 240 Pounds, Career Stats - 310 Tackles, 13.5 Sacks, 6 Interceptions, 1 Touchdown

Prediction: Starting Outside Linebacker

Jonah Williams - RS Sophomore, 6’3”, 235 Pounds, Career Stats - N/A

Prediction: Special Teams Contributor

Ja’Qurius Smith - RS Freshman, 6’2”, 215 Pounds, Career Stats - N/A

Prediction: Special Teams Contributor, Back Up Outside Linebacker

Jaylan Alexander - Sophomore, 6’1”, 230 Pounds, Career Stats - 23 Tackles

Prediction: Special Team Contributor, Back Up Middle Linebacker

Cornel Jones - Junior, 6’2”, 240 Pounds, Career Stats - 74 Tackles, 3.5 Sacks

Prediction: Starting Middle Linebacker

Derrick Barnes - Junior, 6’1”, 240 Pounds, Career Stats - 109 Tackles, 3 Sacks

Prediction: Starting LEO (Rush End/Linebacker Hybrid)

Newcomers:

Chase Triplett - Freshman, 6’3”, 210 Pounds, 3*

Prediction: Redshirt

Jacob Wahlberg - Freshman, 6’3”, 215 Pounds, 3*

Prediction: Special Teams Contributor

Crishawn Long - 6’2”, 195 Pounds, 3*

Prediction: Redshirt

Khalil Saunders - Freshman, 6’3”, 220 Pounds, 3*

Prediction: Special Teams Contributor

Depth Chart:

Outside Linebacker:

  1. Markus Bailey
  2. Ja’Qurius Smith
  3. Jacob Wahlberg

Middle Linebacker:

  1. Cornel Jones
  2. Jaylan Alexander
  3. Khalil Saunders

LEO:

  1. Derrick Barnes
  2. Ja’Qurius Smith
  3. Jonah Williams