This is a weird position for me because there is depth here, but it’s depth that doesn’t play, at all, like even sniff the field on special teams, so you wonder if there’s going to be more attrition there or if these guys will stick around. Let’s talk linebackers.
|Matthew Anunda||Linebacker||5-9/190||RS Freshman|
The obvious star of the show returning is Jordyn Brooks, the true freshman who was absolutely unbelievable last year, in terms of being a freshman and producing at such a high level. There were times that he looked slightly lost at the beginning of the season, but by the end of the year, he looked like he knew what he was doing. That Baylor game for Brooks was a thing of beauty.
And then Brayden Stringer saw quite a bit of time as the season wore on, while Johnathan Picone I think dressed for each game for the most part, but just didn’t get a lot of playing time. I’m guessing that both Stringer and Picone make pretty big jumps this year in terms of what they do for the team.
The mystery guy is D’Vonta Hinton and whether or not we’ll see him as he was, for all intents and purposes, suspended for the latter half of the year. I think part of this was injury, but I think the other part was suspension along with Gary Moore and Devin Lauderdale. I don’t have a clue as to why these guys are suspended, don’t have a clue if it is grades or something else, but it’s somewhat tough to count on someone that’s been suspended.
I have no idea what to think about Jamile Johnson and Christian Taylor, both are converted safeties that were good athletes as high school players that I thought for sure would make an impact at linebacker this year, but to no avail. I don’t know what’s not clicking with those guys and I’d sure like to know why these guys can’t figure it out because you would think that the team could use their athleticism in a 4-2-5 scheme where you need a linebacker that can support the run but also play safety.
Now, the staff adds Tony Jones in the fall and considering the depth of who plays, I’d guess he gets lots of snaps this spring and a lot more this summer. Jones played the weakside linebacker spot and I thought he looked terrific there. Gibbs will have some puzzle pieces to be able to move around the board this spring with Jones, possibly Hinton, Brooks, Picone, Stringer and maybe some of these other guys start to make a move. And the expectation is that Dakota Allen will arrive in the summer, there were apparently some issues with some of this classes transferring, so that’s the reason for the delay. You don’t ever count on it, but it looks promising.
So, this has gone from a position of not knowing what the heck is going on to a position where there’s some real options and some clarity. Much of that is because Brooks stepped up so well as a true freshman. If Riko Jeffers is anything like Brooks, then I think Gibbs and Spavital have something special going on here.