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Returning Player Refresher: Jaylyin Minor

Someone has to be the leader for the linebackers.

NCAA Football: Alabama A&M at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Senior leaders will be in short supply for the Cincinnati Bearcats this season. That means the few that litter the roster will need to step up in a big way. That is especially true when considering the responsibilities that may be levied on Jaylyin Minor, a senior linebacker from Navasota, Texas. The 6’1, 233-pound defender played in junior college before enrolling at UC and he played under some excellent role models, such as Eric Wilson, Antonio Kinard and Bryce Jenkinson. Minor is now the heir apparent to the linebacker leadership role and that will come with the task of mentoring a rather young linebacking corps.

Is Minor up to the challenge? It’s difficult to say from here. I know, cop out answer but until we see him action more we’ll have to reserve judgement. Minor has played in 21 games during his first two seasons with the Bearcats, but that has been in sporadic bursts. He has rarely been a front line starter or been tasked with carrying a load like Wilson and Kinard did last year. In 2015, he saw action in 11 games and completed 18 solo tackles and 17 assisted tackles for a total of 35. He also doled out 2.5 tackles for loss in that collection and managed to deflect a pass. His production actually went down in 2016, when he played in a total of 10 games. In that time he only had 10 solo tackles and 19 assisted tackles. However, he was in the same ballpark when it came to tackles for loss (2.0). Minor’s best game of the 2016 season came in week three against Houston. In that game, he had seven total tackles and a forced fumble, marking one of two games during the season in which he had at least five stops.

Minor is likely going to line up at middle linebacker as defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman employs some different looks to the unit, pulling from the secondary (Tyrell Gilbert) and molding Perry Young into more linebacker than safety. With the growing pains that this new defense will face, Minor could make an incredible impact in his final collegiate season by being a consistent tackler while improving on his pass rushing ability. After all, he is essentially replacing Wilson, who led the team with 3.0 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss a year ago. For the former two-star recruit, the time is now to turn increased play time into superior production.