This is your preseason preview and just as a refresher, I pulled these key losses and key returners from three sources:
- 2018 All-Big 12 team
- 2018 Athlon All-Big 12 teams (1st through 3rd)
- 2019 Athlon All-Big 12 teams (1st through 4th)
It is difficult to actually pull “linebacker” statistics because it is a position that does so much. So I decided to take some statistics that are representative of maybe what a linebacker should do or does or just defense in general. Generally speaking, it wasn’t great for the conference Bob. Not a lot of high-ranking defenses here and we’ll talk about this a bit below, but Kansas being so good at these stats may be a direct reflection of how great Dineen was and now he’s graduated.
It is also important to consider that there are at least five new defensive coordinators (four new coaches and Oklahoma) so that will play a large part in how these players end up playing. Some may have more aggressive defenses, while others may not at all.
Linebacker Key Losses
Not a ton of losses overall, some talented players for sure, but the linebacker group was not one that was senior laden necessarily. No team loses multiple linebackers and I think that it would be safe to say that most teams have the ability to replace a linebacker, even if that linebacker was all-conference. And I’d guess that a lot of teams are moving towards having two linebackers rather than three on the field at any particular time.
Iowa State: Willie Harvey, Jr.
Kansas: Joe Dineen, Jr.
Kansas State: N/A
Oklahoma State: N/A
TCU: Ty Summers (HM)
Texas: Gary Johnson (2nd)
Texas Tech: Dakota Allen (1st)
West Virginia: David Long, Jr. (1st)
I would qualify that statement about being able to replace talent with the thought that there may not have been a more important player on a team than Dineen, but he could only do so much on what was a pretty terrible Kansas defense.
Linebacker Key Returners
Just somewhat keeping track of things, Baylor returns some decent defensive linemen and decent linebackers, but their defense was absolutely terrible (like Texas Tech’s), so that’s always been the question, a player is all-conference, but the defense is not very good. What kind of player are they? Meanwhile, a team like Iowa State returns some solid talent at defensive line and linebacker and they have a very good defense so you’d expect some significant improvement in the national ranks.
Baylor: Clay Johnston (2nd); Blake Lynch
Iowa State: Mike Rose (HM); Marcel Spears, Jr. (HM)
Kansas State: N/A
Oklahoma: Kenneth Murray (2nd); Curtis Bolton (HM)
Oklahoma State: Calvin Bundage (HM); Justin Phillips (HM); Devin Harper
TCU: Garrett Wallow
Texas: Jeffrey McCulloch
Texas Tech: Jordyn Brooks; Riko Jeffers
West Virginia: N/A
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State both return some decent talent, I think that Murray is getting some preseason burn for the preseason defensive player of the year, but that should probably go to someone on Iowa State’s defense because Oklahoma’s defense was trash last year. Somewhat surprised that there are three Oklahoma State linebackers who have decent enough stats to get included.
I did a terrible job of asking this previously and so I want to know where you think the Texas Tech linebackers would rank in the Big 12. Also, your top 5 linebacker units given what you know.