Incoming! The Bearcats Ongoing Issues Recruting Linebackers

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

In recent years the Bearcats have loaded up on linebackers in signing classes. But some of those linebackers don't make it to campus because of grades or other issues. Others make it, aren't prepared for the speed of the game or life in college and leave. This class brings all those issues to the forefront once again.

Matt Opper: There hasn't been a harder position for the Bearcats to recruit in recent times than linebacker. It has been a problem going back to the infamous 2009 recruiting class. For whatever reason UC has had terrible luck and everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. That trend continues with the 2013 class. Rasheen Jones from Northwestern was the only true linebacker to sign for the Bearcats, but he won't make it to campus due to academics. So Tuberville and Co have had to move some guys around. Most recruiting services had Mike Tyson listed as a DB, but he seems likely to drop down a level. Javon Harrison has played QB for almost all his life but the early enrollee was put at outside linebacker almost from day one this spring. Then there is Lindsey Crook, the Ruby 7's pro turned football player, he will also get his start at linebacker. In the long run those three guys can help, but can they this year when UC has a depth problem at linebacker?

Jeff Gentil: Fortunately the linebackers will be anchored by Jeff Luc and Butkus candidate Greg Blair. These two will be vital to UC's defensive success. Any injury from either of these guys and it could be big time trouble. As much as I am intrigued by Tyson because of his JUCO experience and Crook because, well, rugby, neither has played a lot of linebacker, much less football period. Every year we see some surprises and it would be fantastic if we could see a JK Schaffer-type open some eyes but in my opinion there are way too many question marks in this group to expect it to happen.

With Luc, Blair, and Tyson being transfers, is this going to be UC's gameplan going forward since they've had such bad luck actually recruiting freshmen? Or is the Kragthorpe method of recruiting going to ultimately be shown the door?

MO: UC will keep recruiting JUCO's because this staff has contacts all over the place in the JUCO ranks, but they are a supplement, not the main course. The model for linebacker recruiting going forward is already on the team. Nick Temple is slightly undersized, certainly height wise, but he is fast and great in coverage. A lot of recruiting sites had him pegged as a safety, but he has started 20 something straight games as a linebacker. That is the kind of linebacker that UC will have under this staff. They will always take a run at the prototypes, the 6'4" 240 pound monsters, but if they can't get them they have no problem taking a safety with the frame to add 20 pounds and putting him at linebacker. The staff is comfortable doing that because they have been doing it for years.

JG: I think everyone can be in agreement the current staff is going to recruit a hell of a lot better than the two prior staffs. As long as they have a plan in place and follow it through I don't see how anyone can complain especially if they continue to win. Funny how the pattern for linebackers has gone from big and beefy to more athletic and quick. Will be interesting to see if this is permanent or temporary.

MO: The change is permanent linebackers are being asked to do more and more things on the field to combat the ever increasing sophistication of offenses. That is a change that only ratchets in one direction. Alabama is the closest thing we have to what offenses looked like in the 70's and 80's. But they are a one back team the majority of the time, and they spend a ton of time in shot gun. In this day and age being a big run stuffing brute of a linebacker means that you are a two down player. To play every down you have to be able to move. Greg Blair is huge, but he can move and is great playing as a tampa 2 MLB because he can play comfortably 20 yards down field. There simply isn't room for the old stereotypical linebacker that can play downhill against the run and do nothing else.

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