Monday, February 17, 2014
Top position classes: LB
By Gerry Hamilton
With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.
Nationally (and SEC) The Alabama Crimson Tide’s 2014 class fill just about every need on the board, and that includes linebacker. With designs on addressing pass rushing and the ability to play in space on the edge at outside 'backer in Nick Saban’s 3-4 scheme, Alabama signed the Nos. 1 and No. 2 outside linebackers in the country in No. 48 overall Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley) and No. 52 overall Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn), who is pound for pound of the best pure athletes in the 2014 cycle. The Crimson Tide added two more talented linebackers in ESPN 300’s No. 102 Shaun Dion Hamilton (Montgomery, Ala./Carver) and No. 281 Keith Holcombe (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Hillcrest). Hamilton is an MLB.
The Crimson Tide had the nation’s best linebacker class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:
ACC There are bigger linebacker classes than Florida State, but there might not be one with the Seminoles’ quality. The trio signed by Jimbo Fisher and his staff includes one inside linebacker prospect in ESPN 300 No. 32 and early enrollee Kain Daub (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood), along with outside linebackers No. 110 Jacob Pugh (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby) and No. 114 Delvin Purifoy (Pensacola, Fla./Pensacola Catholic). The group has size, length, range, speed and knock-back tackling ability.
Big 12 Texas continues to address speed and athleticism at linebacker in the spread-dominant Big 12. In 2014, the Longhorns signed a pair of quick and athletic four-star prospects in ESPN 300 No. 128 Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/James Bowie) and inside prospect Cameron Hampton (Dallas/David W. Carter). A third linebacker in the class is high three-star Andrew Beck (Tampa, Fla./Plant High), and three-star running back D’Onta Foreman (Texas City, Texas/Texas City) could also get a look on the outside.
Big Ten Ohio State quietly put together the conference’s top linebacker class headlined by five-star Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County High), a downhill thumper with undervalued turn and run ability. The early enrollee McMillan is joined by three outside LB prospects who will bring a combination of size, range and length to the position. ESPN 300 No. 130 Dante Booker Jr. (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary) is one of the top third-down prospects at the position in the cycle, while four-star recruit Kyle Berger (Cleveland/Saint Ignatius) has turn and run ability. The size (6-foot-6, 225-pounds) and range of three-star Sam Hubbard (Cincinnati, Oh./Moeller High) make him an intriguing long-term prospect .
Pac-12 UCLA might not have had the national signing day returns the Bruins had wished for, but it did ink another talented class and that includes at linebacker. With the addition of four-star Kenny Young (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian) on Feb. 5, the Bruins took home honors in the Pac-12 with a linebacker class that includes ESPN 300’s No. 180 Dwight Williams (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra) and No. 192 Zach Whitley Jr. (Houston/North Shore), who is already enrolled. Three-star Cameron Griffin (Los Angeles/View Park) brings added size and range.