1. Mark Herzlich, LB, Senior – So it’s no secret that Mark Herzlich is among the top linebackers in Division 1 college football. Setting career highs in tackles (101), Sacks (2) and interceptions (6), Herzlich would likely have been a first round draft selection this year, however he has opted to remain in school and play out his senior year.
With fellow linebacker Mike McLaughlin expected to miss the year with a torn Achilles, there is going to be even more attention on Herzlich this season to match last seasons production.
And if he can do so without McLaughlin helping him hold down the Eagles linebacking core, but as well as the loss of Defensive Tackles Busari “BJ” Raji, and Ron Brace, the spotlight will once again be on Mark Herzlich to hold down what has been a top notch Eagles defense over the last couple of season.
2) Damik Scafe, DT, Junior – With Raji and Brace both heading the the NFL, what was once the Eagles strength on the defensive line, now seems like more of a weakness. While Scafe hasn’t played any significant time, or any time at all for that matter, he seems like the logical choice to be put into a significant role at Defensive Tackle this season for the Eagles.
Not the gap filler that Raji was, but Scafe has good size for DT at 6-foot-3, 293 pounds, and has worked under now head coach, Frank Spaziani, and current defensive line coach Jeff Comissiong for three seasons now, and knows the Eagles system. Kaleb Ramsey will surely see some time at Defensive Tackle as well for the Eagles.
3.) Roderick Rollins, CB, Junior – Without a doubt, the Eagles most polished corner back, Roderick Rollins, will have his hands full leading an unusually young secondary this season.
Rollins made the team as a true freshman, and has seen his playing time increase every year, and the improvement he’s shown on that year to year basis has been encouraging for the young CB.
Set a career high in tackles last season with 43, nearly doubling his previous season high, and showed improvement in his coverage ability recording his first NCAA interceptions (2).
With the way that Rollins has progressed throughout his career, it would be surprising to see him not thrust into a significant role with the Eagles this season.
4) Dan Mulrooney, DB, Sophomore – Mulrooney is an interesting and extremely intriguing player to say the least. He has experience playing not only corner back and safety, but has played on both sides of the ball taking snaps at running back as well.
Ultimately though, under Spaziani, and on a roster full of true freshman defensive backs, don’t be surprised to see Mulrooney converted into a full time DB for the Eagles this season.
At 6-foot-1 he has good size to match up with most ACC receivers, and the speed to go along with the size, as he ran two low 4.5’s in summer camps just a year ago.
5) Dominick LeGrande, DB/LB, Sophomore – It’s not often I’d put a sophomore player with not true natural position on a list like this, but Dominick LeGrande is a player I think we’ll see make tremendous strides this season.
Used last year as a strict special teams player, LeGrande, similar to Mulrooney, is a versatile player who has played the free safety position, corner back, outside linebacker, and even has some experience at QB.
However, with Mike McLaughlin out, I’d expect to see LeGrande transitioned into a full time Linebacker. While he might lack ideal size for the position, he has the speed and explosive first step to be an asset in the Eagles pass rush.
Kevin Distaso could get the nod here, he does have a better frame, and we finally saw Will Thompson begin to get some time with the defense last season, but I’d keep my eye on Dominick LeGrande, his pure speed and raw talent could make him the perfect candidate for Frank Spaziani’s next “project” player.
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