POSITION BREAKDOWN: LINEBACKERS
Aug. 27, 2012
Tulsa, Oklahoma - The biggest question entering spring practice and again in preseason camp was who would come out on top at MIKE linebacker to replace the nation's third-leading tackler, Curnelius Arnick, from the 2011 campaign.
"We've been really pleased with Trent Martin's development. His physical play and consistency has been very evident all fall camp. He's continued to narrow the gap with Donnell. Right now, it's a toss-up which one will start, but they're both considered first team linebackers," said Head Coach Bill Blankenship.
Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers Coach Brent Guy echoed Blankenship's thoughts exactly.
"We're really pleased with the way Donnell Hawkins and Trent Martin have come through at the MIKE position. They have a lot of communication to do with the front line, like the safeties do in the back end. We are pleased with the MIKE linebacker position because was a really critical area for us going into camp. We came into camp without a guy having started a game for us in that spot. It's a really important part of our defense," said Guy.
Hawkins has played in 26 career games, mostly on special teams, and has tallied 31 tackles in his first two seasons.
DeAundre Brown, Shawn Jackson and DeWitt Jennings have combined for 45 career starts in their careers. Brown and Jennings will head into the season opener against Iowa State as the starters on the outside. Jackson, who is a two-year starter, will miss the first three games for the Hurricane.
Brown, who missed the 2010 season, has 183 career tackles, including a team-leading 102 stops in the 2009 campaign. Jennings has 56 tackles in his two years, while Jackson has 189 tackles and 26.5 stops for lost yardage in two seasons as well.
"Our `CANE and WILL positions are interchangeable, so we can move those guys around," said Guy. "DeWitt Jennings and Mitchell Osborne have practiced at the `CANE position. Shawn Jackson and DeAundre Brown are practicing at WILL right now and we're using Jake Sizelove at both positions, so those are the guys that we'll count on in games for us."
Osborne missed last year with an injury, but garnered 12 tackles as a true freshman in the 2010 campaign. Sizelove, a former walk-on who was put on scholarship this year, saw limited action last season on special teams for the Hurricane.
"DeAndre and DeWitt give some calmness in what we're going into and Shawn is a great leader out there. Really, those two guys in the middle are what everyone is focused on because they're the question marks. But I'm not too worried. I think we'll get really good play from them," added Blankenship.
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