Linebacker Preview

29 Aug

I’m sure you’ve heard by now, but this year’s crop of linebackers has a chance to one of those that people remember.

First off, there is Arthur Brown, the Wichita native and transfer from the University of Miami (where the Wildcats will face the Hurricanes on Sept. 24, by the way). A junior now, he redshirted with Kansas State last season, and those in the program have been impressed by his work ethic and leadership. Fans expect him to make a big impact quickly, and the positive accounts from Brown’s teammates – who voted him a team captain this season – and coaches make that seem like a very real possibility. Whether or not he has that impact will be integral to how quickly the Wildcats can take their defense from a weakness to a strength.

Last season, Tre Walker gave the linebacker group a big boost as a freshman. Head coach Bill Snyder prefers to redshirt incoming players (his rationale is that they’ll probably be better contributors in their fifth year than in their first year) but could not in good conscience keep Walker, who would play in all 13 games, off the field. It was simple: he made the team better. Numerically, he made the Wildcats better to the tune of 47 tackles, a sack and an interception. Keep in mind, he only started two of the 13 games in which he played. Now, with a year of game experience under his belt, Walker is expected to build on his successes of last season. Ideally, playing alongside someone like Brown should help him do that to an even greater degree.

Emmanuel Lamur began his college career at Independence Community College, but in the last two seasons he has been a key contributor for the Wildcats. Fans will likely remember his 2009 season more vividly than his 2010 season. In 2009, he played safety and turned in a team-high 68 tackles … and blocked an extra point in Arrowhead Stadium to give the Wildcats a wild one-point win over the Iowa State Cyclones. Last season, he played both safety and linebacker, and this season, it seems he will be primarily a linebacker. A two-time team captain, Lamur’s quickness and length should bolster this unit in no small way.

In 2010, Alex Hrebec and Blake Slaughter, now a senior and junior, respectively, earned significant playing time at the linebacker spots. Hrebec was third on the team in tackles with 77 even though he missed two games because of injury, his K-State bio notes. Slaughter played in all the 2010 games save for one. This year, however, Hrebec and Slaughter will likely be relegated to backups. That these two will be No. 2s should be perceived as a great sign for the Wildcats. This could be one of the deepest positions on the team, and hopefully it will be the one to lead the defense to a better reputation, leaving last year’s sad numbers (11th in the Big 12 in total defense) in the dust.

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