This week we are taking a look at the linebacking corps, which lost LVE, but has a lot of talent waiting in the wings.
Gabe Perez - 6’4 246 lbs - graduated, 14 total tackles, 2 TFL.
Leighton Vander Esch - 6’4 240 lbs - declared for the draft, drafted #19 to the Dallas Cowboys in the first round. 141 total tackles, 91 solo, 4 sacks, 8.5 TFL.
John Mackesy - 6’1 221 lbs - walk on, left team.
Breydon Boyd - 6’3 221 lbs, red shirt last year, assuming he left the team as he is not on the roster. Will update as I hear more.
Blake Whitlock - RS Senior - WLB, 6’1 222 lbs, injured for 2017 season.
Joseph Inda - RS Senior - MLB, 6’ 231 lbs, no stats.
Joe Provenzano - RS Senior - MLB, 5’11 232 lbs, 2 total tackles, 1 solo.
Will Hefner - RS Junior - SLB, 6’2 224 lbs, 4 total tackles, 3 solo, 1 TFL.
Tyson Maeva - Junior - MLB, 6’ 228 lbs, 79 total tackles, 40 solo, 1 sack, 2.5 TFL.
Solo Taylor - RS Sophomore - MLB, 6’2 220 lbs, walk on, no stats listed.
Desmond Williams - RS Sophomore - SLB, 5’11 205 lbs, 28 total tackles, 20 solo, 2 sacks, 3 TFL.
Bruno DeRose - RS Sophomore - WLB, 5’11 227 lbs, walk-on, 7 total tackles, 5 solo.
Nick Provenzano - RS Sophomore - WLB, 5’11 227 lbs, walk-on, no stats listed.
Riley Whimpey - Sophomore - WLB, 6’1 207 lbs, 17 total tackles, 7 solo, 1 TFL.
Benton Wickersham - Sophomore - LB, 6’2 231 lbs, walk on, 16 total tackles, 8 solo.
Roman Kafentzis - RS Freshman - SLB, 6’1 208 lbs, coming off red shirt.
Ezekiel Noa - RS Freshman - WLB, 5’11 246 lbs, coming off red shirt.
Brandon Hawkins - SLB, 6’2 190 lbs, 105 total tackles, 4 sacks, 12 TFL as a senior at Georgetown. Already on campus.
DJ Schramm - LB, 6’ 227 lbs, Cannot find final senior stats for DJ. Already on campus.
Phillip Mills - DL, 6’2 223 lbs - 91 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 14 TFL, 1 INT. Already on campus.
That’s a lot of linebackers. We all know who we have to replace, and that will be no small feat. Gabe Perez’s leadership will be missed as well. Let’s start with MLB.
Maeva has this spot locked up, with Benton Wickersham as his backup. I anticipate Inda to see some time, but that is purely based on him being a scholly player. JoePro could slide into the depth chart based on a bit of production. I have high hopes for Solo Taylor due to his high production at the high school level. I anticipate DJ Schramm to work in at MLB, but based on depth I anticipate he will red shirt. Enrolling early will certainly help his chances at playing early, but I’m not sure that happens.
At SLB, Desmond Williams should start there. I can’t recall for sure, but I also thought Kaniho played here periodically, along with everywhere else in the secondary. Knowing that, that could limit playing time for backups. Heffner had limited playtime last season, and with Kafentzis coming off a red shirt, I can see that being more limited. I haven’t heard much about Kafentzis through spring camp though. Brandon Hawkins is listed here as well and he could very well earn some playing time based on a lack of production on the 2-deep.
At WLB, I’m hopefully Whitlock can return to form for fall camp, but Whimpey will push him for playing time. I expect we will see plenty of both. Ezekiel Noa should wreak some havoc in there as well as I see him playing often. DeRose and Provenzo most likely will only see late playing time and special teams play. I could see Mills lining up here, but with depth, I see him red shirting.
That’s it for this week, tune in next week for cornerbacks! GO BRONCOS!