It's time for "Hard Hit'n Thursday," where we take a look at the hardest hitting group of Bulldogs, the Linebackers. The Bulldog backers have experience, they possess ability, and they own an aptitude for bone-crushing hits. Through one week of fall camp the defense has impressed Coach Croom. What role have the linebackers played in building a dominating defense?
1. Quinton Culberson – is the star of the linebacking core. He has made the transition for corner to safety to linebacker and has now found a home dominating the middle of the defense. Culberson has shown extreme dedication in the weightroom during the off-season, getter bigger and stronger. Jim Nowell says, "Culberson can be as good as he wants to be. He is simply a freak… he is just that good." Make no mistake about it… Culberson will have a monster 2005.
2. Clarence McDougal – simply looks to hit someone. If you come across the middle you can expect to be greeted by "MAC". According to QB Omarr Conner, the defense is hitting hard this year. "I don't know what is different …but they are punishing people across the middle." McDougal is strong and plays LB very instinctively, which is a quality every good LB must have. The best thing about McDougal is his nasty attitude. It makes him feared in the middle the Bulldog defense.
3. Anthony Littlejohn – doesn't have the playing experience the other LBs have, but he makes up for it in hard work. Littlejohn is a very reserved guy, but don't let that fool you. When the ball is snapped he gets down to business. As fall camp progresses Littlejohn will have to battle with Gabe O'Neal to keep his starting spot in the rotation.
Gabe O'Neal – has spent fall camp on the injured reserve, only participating on a limited basis. Once O'Neal is back to full strength (which should be next week) he will push Littlejohn. This battle is one that has the staff excited, because no matter who wins the battle the Bulldogs will have one heck of a LB on the field.
Brad Horton – is the most determined linebacker of the unit. He never takes a snap off. His motor is stuck on go from the time the first whistle blows until the end of practice. Horton has game experience and he knows what it takes to compete at the SEC level. Brad will figure into the two deep rotation at MLB providing MSU with quality depth.
Jimmy Miller – has sat out the past two days of fall camp with a concussion, which has slowed his progress. Jimmy is a hard nosed LB that has a knack for not missing tackles. As with most freshman, Jimmy is learning the system and it isn't easy to get a read on his level of talent. Once he returns to action I expect him to continue to improve and find a home on special teams and as a situational LB.
Jamar Chaney – has a tremendous amount of talent, there is no questioning that. It will simply take time for him to learn the schemes in order to get the playing time. Coach Croom stated in his press conference earlier today that it was easy to see why he was so highly recruited… he has talent. I fully expect Chaney to see the field at first on special teams and in the LB rotation by mid to late season.
Fred Akines – will be in the mix this fall, but right now he is not doing anything to draw attention to himself…either good nor bad. So the jury is still out on what role Akines will play, but I feel he is a guy that will find a home on the special teams unit.
One thing will be for sure this fall… no matter which group of linebackers are on the field, they will be ready to punish opposing wide receivers, running backs, or generally anyone with the football.