2024 Linebacker Discussion

Discussion in 'Football Talk' started by OSUBasketballJunkie, Dec 31, 2023.

  1. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Proud to be a Buckeye Staff Member

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  2. TexasBuckeye

    TexasBuckeye Well-Known Member

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    Full time James L.
    Go Bucks
     
  3. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Proud to be a Buckeye Staff Member

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  4. OSUBasketballJunkie

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    WLB: SONNY STYLES
    There’s been no confirmation as of yet that Styles will move to linebacker; defensive coordinator Jim Knowles was high on Styles’ future as a safety when he last met with the media before the Cotton Bowl, saying he thinks Styles “can be a dominant high safety.” Now that Downs is coming to Columbus, though, a move to Will linebacker is likely the best move for all parties.

    Styles is too talented not to be a part of Ohio State’s defense in some capacity, but there’s no longer a starting spot available for him in the secondary. And given that Styles did his best work closer to the line of scrimmage this past season anyway, there’s reason to believe a move to linebacker could be ideal for the 6-foot-4, 230-pound rising junior.

    While Styles struggled at times this past season when he had to match up with receivers in coverage, he has the skill set to be an elite coverage linebacker. He already has the requisite size to defend the run in the box while his athletic range should enable him to be a sideline-to-sideline playmaker from the Will spot.

    If the Buckeyes decide it’s not in Styles’ best interest to make him a full-time linebacker, they have another five-star junior at the position in C.J. Hicks, giving them two intriguing options to replace Steele Chambers in the lineup.

    MLB: CODY SIMON
    Even though he only started three games this past season, Simon was arguably Ohio State’s best linebacker by the end of the year. He made his presence felt when he was on the field, particularly as a run stopper, as he recorded 57 tackles in just 373 defensive snaps.

    The defense didn’t miss a beat in the three games that Simon started in place of Tommy Eichenberg at Mike linebacker this past season, giving Knowles great reason to be confident in his ability to be the signal-caller for Ohio State’s defense this year. He might not be as flashy as most of the other players in Ohio State’s projected starting lineup, but the stability and consistency he should provide is exactly what the Buckeyes need at this position.
     
  5. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Proud to be a Buckeye Staff Member

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    LINEBACKERS (8)
    Returners: Cody Simon, C.J. Hicks, Gabe Powers, Kourt Williams, Arvell Reese, Nigel Glover
    Newcomers: Payton Pierce (Freshman), Garrett Stover (Freshman)
    Departures: Tommy Eichenberg, Steele Chambers, Reid Carrico

    On paper, this is the biggest position of uncertainty on the current roster outside of the offensive line. The Buckeyes lost both of their primary starters from last season, Chambers and Eichenberg, and Simon is the only player on the roster who’s seen substantial playing time as a linebacker at the collegiate level.

    Simon can effectively be considered a returning starter at Mike linebacker, though, considering he started three of Ohio State’s final four games in place of Eichenberg and played 373 total snaps in 2023 as OSU’s third linebacker. The Buckeyes could add a player who started 12 games in the secondary last season to this position group if Sonny Styles moves from safety to linebacker, but he’s listed with the safeties for now since that’s where he’s spent his first two seasons at OSU.

    Hicks and Powers should also be candidates for playing time entering their third year as Buckeyes while Reese and Glover should be more ready to contribute as second-years. Williams is recovering from a torn ACL for the second time in his OSU career, leaving his prognosis for 2024 uncertain.
     
  6. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Proud to be a Buckeye Staff Member

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  7. OSUBasketballJunkie

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    WILL LINEBACKER
    1. Sonny Styles
    2. C.J. Hicks
    3. Garrett Stover

    MIKE LINEBACKER
    1. Cody Simon
    2. Gabe Powers
    3. Arvell Reese

    Simon is the only sure-fire starter at linebacker. While he played at both linebacker positions last season, he’s expected to take over as the starting Mike linebacker after filling in for Tommy Eichenberg in three of Ohio State’s final four games last season.

    While Styles has been a safety for his first two years as a Buckeye, we’re projecting that the 6-foot-4, 230-pound junior will move down to Will linebacker to replace Steele Chambers. That would give the Buckeyes a boost of coverage ability at the position while allowing Styles to remain in the starting lineup with the addition of Caleb Downs and Lathan Ransom’s return for his senior season.

    Hicks is also a candidate to start at Will linebacker, but Knowles said before the Cotton Bowl that he is still working to find “the right place” for Hicks, suggesting that Hicks might not be in line for a full-time starting linebacker position. That said, Hicks and Powers are both in line to be on the two-deep as the only returning linebackers other than Simon (and Styles if he moves) who played defensive snaps last season.

    Reese is likely to be the next man up at LB after playing regularly on special teams as a true freshman while Stover, fellow true freshman Payton Pierce and redshirt freshman Nigel Glover will compete to round out the two-deep. Kourt Williams could also factor in on the Will linebacker depth chart if he is cleared to play, but his status for 2024 is uncertain after he tore his ACL last fall.
     
  8. TexasBuckeye

    TexasBuckeye Well-Known Member

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    Powers is the X factor.
    Will push and play more than expected.
    Good technique and mentally ready.
    Might be the Cody Simon of 2024.
    Go Bucks
     
  9. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Proud to be a Buckeye Staff Member

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  10. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Proud to be a Buckeye Staff Member

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    • On the linebacker room: “I hope we have a room that reflects what Brian (Hartline) has in his room, where it’s guys constantly iron sharpening iron, trying to claw to get on the field for playing time. I hope that’s what we can have not only exiting spring but entering fall camp.”
     
  11. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Proud to be a Buckeye Staff Member

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    WILL LINEBACKER
    While it’s certainly possible that someone else could force their way into the starting lineup with an excellent spring, the only position on defense that truly appears to be up for grabs this spring is the Will linebacker spot.

    Ohio State could potentially fill that spot by moving Sonny Styles to linebacker after he started all but one game last season at either nickel safety or strong safety. Styles has more than enough size to play linebacker at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, and such a move could prove to be the best fit for his game as he did much of his best work last season while lined up in the box.

    Fellow five-star junior C.J. Hicks is also a candidate to start at Will linebacker after playing that position in backup duty last season, while Gabe Powers and Arvell Reese will get a shot to compete for the job this spring as well.

    There’s no sure thing at this position, given that Simon is the only player on the current roster who’s started a collegiate game at linebacker, but new linebackers coach James Laurinaitis is confident in the options he has at his disposal.

    “I'm really excited about it,” Laurinaitis said last week. “It's a big spring for our guys. With Cody and C.J. and Gabe Powers and Arvell Reese, there's a lot of guys that are gonna be fighting for playing time.”
     
  12. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Proud to be a Buckeye Staff Member

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  14. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Proud to be a Buckeye Staff Member

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  15. OSUBasketballJunkie

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