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We will start out the breakdown with the linebacking core. This is a group that is losing two long time contributors in KD Davis and Larry Nixon. That is 671 career tackles that new LB Coach Colby Kratch is tasked with replacing. With his Iowa State variation of the 3-3-5 defense, we will see a third linebacker on the field. Last Season at Iowa State they ran out a LB core that had sizes of 5-11 231, 6-2 260 and 6-4 242. We will not see a LB trio with that same kind of size this season. But I do believe they will make up for it with speed. Here are my overall thoughts on the LB group. TOP RETURNERS Jordan Brown and Kevin Wood are the veterans of this group. They are the top returning players in this group. Both have seen extended periods of playing time in the last few seasons. Woods and Brown combined for eighty-nine tackles this last season. I can see one of the two along with Oklahoma State transfer Carson Kropp locking down the MLB spot this upcoming season. BREAKOUT STAR Redshirt Freshman Ethan Wesloski from McKinney Boyd could very well have a breakout season. He has the measurables at 6-1, 229. While at Boyd, Ethan was a tackling machine. He had almost three hundred tackles in his Jr and Sr years. After a year on campus and redshirting this past season, he will look to take a leap this upcoming season. Wesloski made great strides this spring. If the growth continues this fall, I would not be surprised to see him starting at WLB come September 2nd. SAME FACE/NEW POSITION A name that is new to the Linebacker room but not to the North Texas program is Jaylen Smith. Smith has played in 27 games the past two seasons for North Texas, mostly on special teams. But the new defensive staff moved Smith to linebacker from defensive back this past spring. He will add speed to the linebacking core. Smith, who is a Jr., goes a solid 5-11, 212. Smith could also be in line to break the 2-deep this fall at the SLB position and if he does remember you heard it here first. If he does not, then I will not recall ever saying it. NEW ADDITIONS Three names that are new to the North Texas program that could break the 2 deep this fall are Chavez Brown, CJ Garnett and Matthew Moore. Brown and Garnett both came from the JUCO ranks. Chavez Brown is an interesting story. He is a converted TE coming from Butler CC. He has size and athleticism that should be able to contribute early at North Texas. I had the privilege to interview CJ Garnett after he committed from Blinn this spring. He is a super intelligent kid that is super excited to be a part of the North Texas football program. He had an impressive tape out of Blinn. I think he will battle for the SLB position come fall camp. The third and final new addition on my list is HS addition Matthew Moore from Killeen. Moore is one of my favorite signees from the 2023 class for North Texas. He is a super smart kid that flew around the field like a missile. If you watched his high school film, you could not miss it. Moore not only brings speed but decent size for a true freshman, coming in at 6 ft 218. He and Brown will be battling for a chance to break the two deep out of fall camp at the WLB position. GOMEANGREEN OVERALL THOUGHTS I think even though North Texas is losing some key contributors in the linebacking core, this group has the potential to be a bright spot this season. I believe due to several players with high ceilings and a new defensive scheme this group could surprise a lot of North Texas fans this season. Interview Links CJ Garnett https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tOS3CBUvwo Matthew Moore https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbuFoj5EqcM
After a somewhat extended hiatus from our post spring series on UNT’s roster, we are back at it today with a look at the Mean Green’s linebackers. When one thinks about it now, linebacker was one of UNT’s deepest positions in 2011. Zach Orr led UNT in tackles with 74, even though he missed the last three games of the season due to injury and was named second team All-Sun Belt. Brad Graham posted 52 tackles, Mike Stojkovic 48, Forlando Johnson 41, Julian Herron 31, Will Wright 31, Jeremy Phillips 21 and Derek Akunne 20. UNT was lucky it had as much depth as it did at linebacker. That depth helped the Mean Green get by in a season it lost Phillips for half the year and Orr for the last three games of the season due to injury. UNT lost Graham, Johnson and Herron to graduation, which is a significant hit to the Mean Green’s rotation at outside linebacker. Herron was one of UNT’s best playmakers. He had four fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and 3.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2012/06/post-spring-football-series-part-8-linebackers.html/