Linebackers are one of the most important positions on defense; they are the generals on the field. The good news for the 'Heels is, they have a very good and deep group of linebackers.
Quan Sturdivant (6’2”, 230 lbs), who as a sophomore led the nation in solo tackles with 87, is predicted to receive ACC honors and receive national attention. Sturdivant will lead the team on defense as the captain and as the middle linebacker. He will be the leader of a strong group, and is expected to test the NFL waters at season’s end.
Bruce Carter will move over to the strong side linebacker from the weak side. With a full year of starting experience under his belt, plus the starts he made in 2007, Carter is expected to make a huge difference.
After leading the nation with five blocked kicks in 2008, he will cause havoc again with his speed and strength on special teams. Carter is a special player both as a linebacker and on special teams.
The weak side linebacker spot is still up in the air. Zach Brown and Kevin Reddick are in a friendly battle for the position. Coach Davis said he does not know which one will start, but he expects both to receive numerous minutes.
Zach Brown (6’2”, 220 lb sophomore) is well-known for his speed. He is the fastest of a speedy group of linebackers. He ran a 4.26 40 in spring practice nobody could believe. He will be a great addition, if only for his speed.
Kevin Reddick (6’3”, 235 lb true freshman) is loaded with talent. He has speed, strength, and is a strong tackler. Reddick will mostly play weak side linebacker, but will also play some at the middle linebacker position, the position he is projected to play in the future.
In the head-to-head Brown has more speed, but Reddick has more football smarts.
While it is too early to know if Brown or Reddick will start, I would expect Brown to start due to experience.
Speed is so important for linebackers, and the Heels certainly have it. UNC will turn heads in the ACC and around the nation because of this group. I believe all four of these players will end up in the NFL one day.
Butch Davis can look forward to a great season due to his leaders on defense: the linebackers.
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