Previous position breakdowns:
Today we continue the position breakdowns for the 2013 football season and focus on the Linebackers. This unit has talent, but not too much depth as far as game experience is concerned. It could be a strength for the Cards this season if some guys can stay healthy, and a key guy can get healthy. Let’s see who we have…
6’2 260 lbs
One of the biggest leaders on this year’s team will be Preston Brown. The senior linebacker from Cincinnati, OH has played in 39 games as a Card. If you are trying to do the math, that is EVERY game since he has been here. He has started in 24 of those games, all 13 last year and 11 as a sophomore.
Last season he was named 2nd team All-Big East after getting 109 tackles. He had 6 games where he recorded double-digit tackles! Against South Florida, Brown registered 17, yes seventeen, tackles! In the Sugar Bowl against Florida, Brown was dominant as he had 13 tackles. He had a 5 game stretch where he recorded tackle numbers of 17, 13, 10, 12, and 10. Quite impressive.
There is no reason to expect any kind of drop off from Brown this season. He had some ridiculous (in a good way) numbers in some games last season, so maybe he won’t match those, but he should still be as effective. And who knows? Maybe he will match and surpass those numbers this season! He is definitely the centerpiece of the defense for the Cards.
6’0 245 lbs
One guy that is under the radar of some of the fans would be George Durant. The senior came to UofL as a walk-on, and has now worked his way into a starting spot. In his first 2 seasons, he played in only 13 games and had 3 tackles. Then last season was his breakout year as he had 37 tackles and a forced fumble while playing in all 13 games, starting in 8 of them. He set a career-high with 9 tackles against Cincinnati last season in the overtime win for the Cards.
As a fellow senior with Preston Brown, Durant will be counted on to be one of the leaders of the defense. He is primed to have his best season as a Louisville Cardinal in 2013!
6’0 215 lbs
Burgess came to UofL with a lot of hype as he was an All-American at Homestead High School in Homestead, FL. He certainly lived up to the hype as a true freshman. If a true freshman just has any kind of impact, he can call it a good season. Burgess did just that. He played in 10 games, starting in 4 of those. He had 27 tackles and 2 interceptions. His interception at Rutgers led to the game-winning field goal for the Cards. In his first ever college game against Kentucky, he recorded 4 tackles. Against UConn, he had an outstanding 10 tackles.
Burgess should be the 3rd starter at the linebacker position along with Preston Brown and George Durant. If his freshman season is any indication, Burgess could be in for a huge year for the Cards, since now he has had an entire off-season to adjust to the college game and learn his position better.
6’1 235 lbs
Another player who came to UofL with a lot of hype was Keith Brown. He was an Army All-American in high school as he led Miami Norland to a 15-0 record and the 5-A State Championship. So what did he do in his first season with the Cards? He was named a freshman All-American by FoxSports.net! He played in 11 games, starting in 5 of them and recording 48 tackles on the season. He had 13 tackles against Cincinnati.
The bad news is that Brown is out right now with an injury. Charlie Strong would not elaborate too much, but it sounds like it could be a knee injury. He is definitely not expected to be ready when the season starts, as Strong says he expects him to miss some time. But coaches are confident that Brown will play this season. It would be a big loss if he can not return, but it would also give some other guys a chance to step up.
6’2 194 lbs
Rogers brings some experience to the position, as he has played in 37 games in his 3 seasons with the Cards. He had 12 tackles last season and 6 as a sophomore. His experience will help with the younger linebackers on the roster. Anytime a backup comes into the game and he is a senior, you feel good about putting him out there. That will be the case with Rogers this season. He may not start many games, but he is still an important player at this position for the Cards.
6’0 215 lbs
Lee has moved around between linebacker and the secondary in his time at UofL. He has played in 31 games for the Cards, recording 20 tackles. He is another one that will bring depth and experience to the position. He played in 7 games last season and had 11 tackles. An interesting note about Lee is that he is Bilal Powell’s cousin.
6’3 225 lbs
A freshman that can make an impact in his first season is James Hearns. Hearns was a late signee, not signing with the Cards until late June. He is a former Florida Gator commit, and also held offers from Alabama, LSU, Florida State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, USC, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Mississippi State, and many more!
At 6’3 and 225 lbs, he has good size as a freshman. He will surely add some size under strength coach Pat Moorer. But if he can do that and learn his position well enough, he can certainly find himself on the field this season making plays.
Other linebackers on UofL’s roster:
Tyon Dixon RS Junior 5’11 214 lbs
Lyn Clark Freshman 6’2 232 lbs
Keith Kelsey Freshman 6’1 217 lbs
Leroy Kelson RS Sophomore 6’0 223 lbs
Mike Addesa RS Senior 5’11 204 lbs
Blake Ramsey RS Freshman 5’11 185 lbs
Lamar Atkins RS Freshman 5’11 216 lbs
Royce Donovan RS Freshman 6’2 222 lbs
This is a position where I am very confident in our starters, but will have to see how the backups play in games. We are deep as far as numbers go, but not in big game experience. With Keith Brown injured, someone will have to step up and fill that void. Former linebacker Nick Dawson moved to defensive end. Do they move him back to linebacker? Or does someone else step in so Dawson can stay on the defensive line?
Preston Brown, George Durant, and James Burgess can all have outstanding seasons. It’s just after them on the depth chart, what does it look like? Hearns could possibly get a lot of playing time and have a great freshman season. Deon Rogers could end up being more than just a senior leader. He could easily have a career season if called upon.
So for me, there are more questions than answers. Like I said, 100% confident in the starters, but just need to see the backups to see what we have. But let’s be honest…with our coaches, I am sure we will be just fine in developing the younger guys!
Tomorrow I will bring you the breakdown of the Cornerbacks!
*Some info came from GoCards.com