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Louisville Football Recruiting Outlook: Linebacker

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The most veteran group on Louisville’s defense also has the most questions.

NCAA Football: Louisville at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Disclaimer: The depth chart as well as position changes are just my guess or what I would like to see. There’s no way to know how these things will shake out.

WHO’S COMING BACK

Isaac Stewart

Amonte Caban

London Iakopo

Jon Greenard

Khane Pass

Malik Staples

C.J. Avery

Dorian Etheridge

WHO’S COMING IN

Thurman Geathers

Geathers is one of the most interesting guys in the class this year. I think he will end up at the rush end position that James Hearns plays now and he probably needs a year to gain some weight. He really does some impressive things as a pass rusher and I think he is athletic enough to play in short zone coverages when needed.

Robert Hicks

Louisville needed to add depth at middle linebacker and they did pretty well by adding Hicks. He’s has similar size to Stacy Thomas and runs pretty well from hash to hash. Louisville hasn’t been using their linebackers to blitz much in Peter Sirmon’s system but I think that Hicks will be the type of guy with the instincts to get downhill fast and make some negative plays against the run. Hicks is one of two Under Armor All-Americans in the class.

Yasir Abdullah

I’m not as high as some on Abdullah but I can totally see the upside with the way that he plays the game. He’s a high energy guy that can just run and hit. He makes a lot of plays at the high school level but I worry about his size. He’s about six feet even and he’s under 200 pounds. That’s a cornerback, not a linebacker. So the coaches will have to decide if they use him as a rush end or if they have hopes to play him as a weakside inside linebacker. Or maybe he ends up at Star. Any way it goes, he should be a guy that ends up being a contributor.

POTENTIAL COMMITS

Nik Bonitto

I have no clue why Bonitto hasn’t pulled the trigger and committed to UofL yet. He listed the Cards as his “leader” back in August but not much has happened since. He’s taken his visit here as well as Oklahoma but nothing seems to have come from either. A good while back he said that he wanted an offer from Florida so maybe that’s what he’s waiting for. Bonitto really impressed me in a televised game earlier this season. He showed real pass rushing moves, a strong motor, and the ability to overcome his lack of size. He would be a major pickup for the staff.

DEPTH CHART

Rush End

Jon Greenard

Amonte Caban

Mike

Dorian Etheridge

Robert Hicks

Will

Isaac Stewart

London Iakopo

Star

C.J. Avery

Lemarques Thomas

OUTLOOK

The linebackers are so hard to figure out because I find myself wondering “why” a lot during the games. London Iakopo was moved from safety to play at Will but he’s been MIA for a few weeks now. Why? C.J. Avery is listed on the depth chart at Star but he’s being playing middle linebacker at 205 pounds. Why? There’s just a lot that doesn’t make sense at times and we will have to wait to see what personnel decisions they make in the spring.

There is young talent in this group but they haven’t always played well this year. You don’t really see the natural instincts that you’d like to see each play. They’re playing their fundamental keys and that’s causing them to overrun plays that open up lanes for running backs. It’s causing late physical reactions which leads to play action passes being wide open. Hopefully, we will see that change next year with these young guys being more experienced.

I’m not sure who plays on the weakside between Etheridge and Stewart because both of them are liabilities in coverage. That might force Sirmon to play a guy like Iakopo so he doesn’t give the offense an advantage. There are lots of questions here but there is some talent to work with.