If I was Coach Fickell [Linebacker Edition]

As el Kaiser mentioned earlier, we are going to breakdown the positional battles and players in a series of posts of what we would do if we were Coach Fickell. We’ll look at all the potential starters, their back ups and all the information we can provide.

In this post I am going to take a look at the Linebackers and who I think should start and who will see significant playing time as a backup. I will also break down the linebackers who have left the program or who are suspended for any length of time and how they will impact on the 2011 season.

Mike (Middle LB) – This one is a tough one. The player who plays here will have to replace the leadership and ability of Brian Rolle and live up to the legacy of a host of amazing linebackers that have played at OSU over the last 100 years. The obvious choice is to just move Storm Klein here, up from his backup spot from a year ago. I do really like Storm Klein and he has one of those awesome names that should be a starting football player at OSU. Having said that, though, the player who plays here needs to be able to drop in coverage and cover tight ends as well as rush the quarterback or stop the run. The MIKE is usually the field general telling players where to go and what plays the coach is calling for. Above everything, though, you need your best player at all of these things here. If I was Coach Fickell, I would move Andrew Sweat to the MIKE and start him in game one against Akron. Andrew is a Senior and a tenacious hitter and has the size and speed to be successful but if he has any glaring weakness in his new position it will be easy enough to move him back to his WILL LB spot he has been in his first three years at OSU.

SAM (Strong Side LB) – This linebacker spot, despite its name, is actually for our least experienced linebacker as it is on the strong side of the defense and has backup from the defensive line and defensive backs. This spot, to me, is made for a player like Curtis Grant, a five-star true freshman linebacker from Virginia who is making waves since he landed at OSU as the next great linebacker. He was rated the #1 LB in high school by many different publications. He has size, speed, and strength that is unheard of in freshman players. He has impressed both the seniors and coaches alike who have raved about him passing the eye test. This defense needs players like him on the field so I am going to start Curtis Grant at the SAM this year.

WILL (Weak Side LB) – This spot needs to go to a player who can line up at the end of the defensive line (on either side of the ball) and rush the quarterback or stuff the run. The player who starts here should be able to get things done with little or no help and make plays in the open field. For all these reasons it is time for Etienne Sabino to finally step up and prove he is the player OSU recruited so heavily. He redshirted last year so he is at his best physically and mentally. He has the size and speed and smarts to do well here and should get plenty of chances to prove his worth.

STAR (Hybrid DB/LB) – This is our hybrid player position who can play both as a defensive back and a line backer on every play they are in. They might rush the quarter back, play the run, or drop in coverage against a wide receiver in multi-WR sets. This is the perfect place for a player like Tyler Moeller. Tyler is a 6th year senior who has had a roller coaster ride of a career at OSU having been a star and injured on and off the field all the while becoming the fan favorite player and person he is. He is a natural leader and he has the ability to do everything on a football field. No one is tougher or a bigger hitter for the Silver Bullets. His heart is bigger then the whole state of Michigan. This is his year to stay healthy and succeed as the player we all know he can be.

Backups – OSU has taken a big hit with Seniors leaving the team from last year in Ross Homan and Brian Rolle. On top of that, stud recruit Ejuan Price left the team shortly after signing his Letter of Intent. Jordan Whiting is serving a one game suspension for his roll in the Tattoo scandal. Dorian Bell has transferred to Duquesne. All of this has left us pretty thin at LB but we do have some good back ups still who will see significant playing time this year.

Dan Bain is a senior LB who has not seen the field play as of today.

Connor Crowell is currently injured but is a highly touted true freshman linebacker who may see time on special teams before earning time as a linebacker.

James Hastings is a redshirt sophomore who also has never seen the field as of today.

Tony Jackson is a senior linebacker who has been a stud special teams player.

Storm Klein is our most experienced and talented backup linebacker and will see lots of action on defense this year and may even be a starter before it is all said and done.

Scott McVey is a redshirt freshman who will see the field this year on special teams for sure.

Ryan Shazier is a true freshman linebacker who, in addition to McVey, is highly touted and expected to get a chance to play early and often.

Jordan Whiting is suspended first game but may make waves after that for sure with such thinness at the linebacker position.


  1. We’ve all be waiting on Mr. Sabino. Will this finally be his year? I think we all hope so.

  2. Word out of camp is Storm Klien will be a starter and Jordan Whiting will be a back up and Ryan Shazier has passed Curtis Grant as well. I still think with Curtis’ talents he will be the better LB but I wont be upset if we have so much talent at LB that the nations no 1 LB recruit wont get to start 🙂

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