Apologies for this post coming up later than some of the other ones have. It was a bit of a long day for me, but I'm back, so let's talk about some linebackers! The main difference from our linebackers last season to our linebackers this season is that with the base scheme switching from a 4-3 to a 4-2-5, we will typically play with one less linebacker on the field. With everything that happened in the offseason, I fully support this shift and believe that it fits our personnel better.
There were two major losses at the linebacker position from last season: Brandon Watts and Jabari Hunt-Days. After switching from linebacker to DE, Hunt-Days was declared academically ineligible (which I talked about more in my post yesterday).'
The other major loss, Brandon Watts, was lost to the NFL Draft. Watts was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the seventh round of this year's NFL Draft, so he deserves a huge congratulations.
To replace our two losses, the coaching staff brought in two linebackers in this season's recruiting class: Terrell Lewis and Tre' Jackson. Coming in at 6-2, 215, Terrell Lewis comes to Georgia Tech from Ocoee High School in Florida. Like Brandon Watts, Lewis played quite a bit of safety in high school before beginning the transition to college. Our fearless leader (Joey) did some great analysis on him earlier in the year, and you can check that out here.
Tre' Jackson was the other linebacker recruit that Tech brought in last season. Due to his size and the ability/potential shown on his film, Tre' (whose nickname in high school was Stonewall) has drawn comparisons to former Georgia Tech linebacker Julian Burnett. Those are some huge shoes to fill, but Tre' has done pretty well thus far. He was an early enrollee and even got plenty of playing time during the Spring game. You can check out his film and Joey's analysis of him here.
Projected Depth Chart
|Position||First String||Second String|
|Strongside Linebacker||Tyler Marcordes (R-So)||
Anthony Harrell (R-Jr)
Tremayne McNair (Sr)
|Weakside Linebacker||Quayshawn Nealy (R-Sr)||
Paul (PJ) Davis (So)
Beau Hankins (R-So)
There's quite a few options here to start at linebacker for us this season. The obvious starter is WLB Quayshawn Nealy. He's been a starter for the last few years and has gotten better each season. Backing him up is sophomore PJ Davis and redshirt-sophomore Beau Hankins. Davis was a nearly last-second commit two years ago who came in and started tearing it up. Hankins is a guy that the coaching staff has been excited about for a while now. I think we'll see plenty of both of them this season.
Opposite of Nealy is Tyler Marcordes. To me, Marcordes' most memorable play was last year against Elon where he caught an interception and ran it back over 90 yards (if I remember correctly) for a touchdown. He should do a good job replacing Brandon Watts. He's not quite as fast, but I think he'll still do well. I'm not sure what it is; it's just a gut-feeling. Backing him up is Anthony Harrell and Tremayne McNair. Anthony Harrell thrust his way into the starting lineup last season after some early struggles for Jabari Hunt-Days. Unfortunately, in the same game he started his first game, his season also ended due to a tear in his ACL. I'm not too sure we'll see much of him at the beginning of the season, but he should be one of the first guys off the bench by the end of the season.
This is my favorite position group on the defense this season. The combination of the depth, the talent, and the potential of all of these guys really excites me. Even though we will only have two linebackers on the field at most times this season, I still think Georgia Tech will have one of the best, if not the best, linebacking corps in the ACC.
Are y'all as optimistic about the linebacking corps as I am? How do our linebackers compare to the rest of the ACC's?