LINEBACKER: Post spring evaluation

FETI UNGA

THE MIDDLE LINEBACKER position for the Beavers remained unsettled coming out of spring but Maria Bruggere was there for each of OSU's 15 spring football practices, and we're going to put her on the spot. On the outside, Cameron Collins looks primed for a big year and don't forget about Michael Doctor. What about the depth, and could OSU still add to the linebacker corps before the season?

BF.C: At the start of spring ball, we had Rueben Robinson, Tony Wilson and Feti Unga all vying for the middle linebacker job. At the end of the spring we have..?
Maria Bruggere: We have Rueben Robinson, Tony Wilson and Feti Unga all vying for the middle linebacker job! There was not one person in that group that stands out above the others. It's just a very tight competition. And I think Michael Bibbee needs to at least be part of the conversation as well.

BF.C:Should OSU fans be worried, that no one is quite good enough?
Maria Bruggere: I don't know, I think they're almost there. They're close, but seems like they're always just still a couple plays a way. This spring it was like, you wait, you watch practice and you think you know who it's going to be. And then the next day it looks like something different. I don't think there's any big secret to it, it's just about consistency.

BF.C:The OSU coaches didn't pick a starter but we're going to put you on the spot. Pick one.
Maria Bruggere: Wow, that's tough. If I absolutely had to -- size wise I'd probably say Unga or Wilson, but Rueben, he's quick, but he's a little on the small side for a prototypical middle linebacker, though he is listed at 235 by OSU. Okay, I think I'd put Unga in there -- but it's sooooo hard to say.

BF.C:What gives Unga the slightest of slight edges for you?
Maria Bruggere: His read and react skills. He looks like the most athletic one who gives you the greatest versatility in the number of things you can do at that spot and on defense. He has some maturity now, too, headed into his junior year.

BF.C:Okay let's talk about the outside linebacker. General impressions?
Maria Bruggere: Michael Doctor and Cameron Collins were the clear starters. They should be effective and I was pleasantly surprised by Doctor, you don't think he's a big hitter but he goes after it. And then Cameron Collins, he's the guy. He was the driving force on defense this spring for the entire defense. I think he's not only going to get the (tackle numbers) but he's going to make a lot of the big plays for OSU's defense week in and week out.

BF.C:Behind those two?
Maria Bruggere: Donell Welch did some good things in the spring game, but that was the first time he really made a big play. Still, it was good to see. Shaydon Akuna didn't get a ton of reps and I don't know if he, on a daily basis, came in there hungry enough to really go out there and get the ball. Joshua Parrish, a walk-on, he's been around for a while and he started to step up and get into the mix of things a bit more than he has in previous years. Shiloah Te'o is in there too but he didn't stand out above the others, appreciably anyway. I think you're looking at Welch, Akuna and Te'o in those backup roles right now but Mike Riley said early on in spring that they're trying to find some guys, maybe some junior college guys. At that time, he didn't sound ultra-confident about the linebacker position in terms of depth.

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