Very few college football programs have churned out top-notch linebackers like Ohio State seems to do year after year. With the success they’ve had at the position the past decade, they have a legitimate claim to “Linebacker U” name.
Guys like Ryan Shazier, AJ Hawk, Bobby Carpenter, and James Laurinaitis are all big named Buckeye linebackers that have been drafted since 2006, but what’s the key to finding linebackers that are so productive year after year?
Co-defensive coordinator / linebackers coach Luke Fickell answered that yesterday at the Fiesta Bowl presser after being asked about a Notre Dame player that he recruited that was a hell of a high school tailback that is now tearing it up on defense for the Irish.
“The unique thing is that a lot of times, the thing you’re looking for at linebacker is if you can find a guy that can truly be recruited as a tailback.”
“That’s just one of those things. Most of those guys that are tailbacks want the ball, and they always want to be a tailback, and if we can ever convert some of those guys that are legitamate tailbacks that can move themselves over to play linebacker, now you’re looking at a different cat, a different athlete, a guy that can do some different things.”
“I’ve been fortunate enough to coach a lot of great linebackers at Ohio State, and I don’t if there’s a lot of them that could truly play tailback at the college level,” Fickell noted before naming a few guys with those rare traits.