For the defense, linebacker was probably the greatest area of need. With the departure of key LBs Jasper Brinkley, Marvin Sapp, and Dustin Lindsey, Eric Norwood will be our lone returning LB with significant experience in big games. We do have talented players like Shaq Wilson and Rodney Paulk that are ready to step into bigger roles next year, but, clearly, we needed to pick up a few more LBs this year both to provide depth next year and to begin developing players to fill in after Norwood and Paulk graduate.
To address these needs, we succesfully pulled in a solid class at the position. Our LB class consisted of Josh Dickerson (four stars), Chaun Gresham (three), DeVonte Holloman (four), Quin Smith (three), and Tony Straughter (four). Holloman, one of the overall prize recruits of this class, played safety in high school but projects as an outside LB because of his size. Holloman features an impressive combination of size and speed and could step in right away, possibly in the rover position played by Emanuel Cook last year because of his ability to play both LB and S. The same goes for Dickerson and Straughter; neither has Holloman's incredible athletic ability, but both have JUCO experience and are big enough to play in the middle if we run from a three-LB set. The other players will provide much needed depth for the years to come.
I'm going to give this element of our class another A. We got exactly what we needed here--guys that can contribute next year, depth for the future, and even a guy that can replace Emanuel Cook. This will continue to be an area of strength for us.