College Football 2017: Power Ranking Top 10 Linebackers
Top-10 Linebackers In College Football
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We’re inching closer and closer to the 2017 college football season, which means you’re running out of time to do your homework. If you hope to make a profit this season and crush the bookies, you should already have a good idea of what’s what before the season even starts. This article, I’m looking at the second line of defense and power ranking the top linebackers in college football.
Every elite defense needs an elite linebacker to lead and set the tone.
USA TODAY Sports
Here are the top 10 linebackers heading into the 2017 college football season.
1. Micah Kiser, Virginia Cavaliers - Micah Kiser was third in the country with 134 tackles and is likely going to top 100 tackles for a third straight season. Kiser has the IQ and is just as reliable in pass coverage as he is against the run, making him a legit NFL prospect heading into his senior year.
2. Arden Key, LSU Tigers - Arden Key finished second in the SEC last season with 12 sacks and is arguably the best pass rusher in the conference. Key is a first round prospect, but his shoulder injury and questions about if he’ll even play this season at all is a big concern for LSU.
3. Cameron Smith, USC Trojans - I’m high on Cameron Smith because of his reliability. You know Smith is going to be where he needs to play and have the rest of his teammates on the right page. In two years, Smith has produced 161 tackles, two sacks, three interceptions and seven pass deflections.
4. Josey Jewell, Iowa Hawkeyes - In 37 career games, Josey Jewell has produced 301 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions and 15 pass deflections. Jewell is an old school linebacker who loves contact and isn’t going to give in to anybody.
5. Azeem Victor, Washington Huskies - Azeem Victor had 67 tackles, three tackles for loss and a forced fumble despite missing the final four games with a leg injury. Victor is an athletic, big body linebacker who will have to be the leader this year with the Huskies losing so much talent from a year ago.
6. Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech Hokies - In his first season at Virginia Tech, Tremaine Edmunds finished with 106 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and there pass deflections. Edmunds is the perfect player for a coach like Bud Foster, as his combination of size and athleticism allows him to be a versatile piece to the Hokies defense.
7. Tegray Scales, Indiana Hoosiers - Indiana doesn’t get much love football wise, but Tegray Scales led the country with 23.5 tackles for loss last season, and he was also 10th with 126 tackles. The Hoosiers may have their questions on the football field, but Scales isn’t one of them.
8. Malik Jefferson, Texas Longhorns - Malik Jefferson hasn’t lived up to the hype of being a 5-star recruit, but he finished last season strong and could be poised for a breakout year under new defensive coordinator Todd Orlando. The talent and ability is there, it’s just a matter of getting it done.
9. Shaun Dion Hamilton, Alabama Crimson Tide - Can’t talk defense without mentioning Alabama, and Shaun Dion Hamilton was sharp last year with his 64 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions before getting injured. Hamilton should be ready to start the year and will be one of the faces of this revolving door known as the Crimson Tide defense.
10. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma Sooners - Ogbonnia Okoronkwo showed what he’s capable of last season when he finished with 71 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and nine sacks. Okoronkwo will prove his worth even more now that Eric Striker is no longer around.