Often regarded as the quarterback of a defense, leaders at linebacker are counted on for far more than tackles. The men in the middle must be able to facilitate play calls and audibles from the sidelines to the secondary and defensive front, while identifying pre-snap tendencies and taking on an entire spectrum of blocking schemes.
Collegiate linebacker is not a position for the faint of heart and certainly doesn't come easily to most young players. However, certain star performers are naturally inclined to take on an expansive role in the heart of a defense, despite lacking experience at the next level.
The 2014 recruiting class is loaded with talented defenders, but few are ready to challenge for a key role as freshmen. Here's a look at high school seniors set to make a smooth transition and quickly flourish in college football.