Football Preview: The Linebackers
A pair of talented senior inside linebackers, Dan Molls and Robert Bell, are the heart and soul of the defense.
Molls finished 10th in the nation with 143 tackles in 2010, earning third-team All-MAC honors. The early portion of his junior season was derailed, however, by a leg injury that caused him to miss six games. He returned to play the final five games in ship shape, averaging nearly 11 tackles per contest. Bell was solid all season long, finishing second on the team with 78 tackles and forcing a team-best four fumbles.
Molls and Bell are two of the reasons head coach Matt Campbell is so high on the Rockets' defense.
"Danny Molls and Robert Bell are the foundation of our defense," said Cambell. "Those two guys have a great nose for the football, they understand the game and they bring that attitude to our defense. Danny is a sure tackler and a leader. He's exactly the kind of guy you need as a middle linebacker on your football team. Robert has been making players since his freshman year, but he really came into his own last year."
Toledo also has some very good depth behind Molls and Bell. Three sophomore linebackers saw significant playing time as freshmen in 2011. Ray Bush (18 tackles), Dawalyn Harper (nine tackles) and James Gordon (eight tackles) are all back to challenge for spots in the playing rotation.
Toledo's third linebacker position--star linebacker-- is a hybrid outside linebacker/safety position that requires solid tackling skills combined with the ability to cover speedy receivers. Two players have been battling it out at the position in training camp, sophomore Junior Sylvestre and junior Vladimir Emilien. Emilien sat out last season after transferring from the University of Michigan, while Sylvestre had 19 tackles on special teams and as a reserve for the Rockets in 2011.
"I'm also excited to watch some of the young guys develop. Those guys certainly have the ability to become consistent football players," said Campbell.
Next: The Offensive Line
|UTRockets.com - Your Source for Rocket Sports
Like Toledo Rockets on Facebook!
Follow the Rockets on Twitter @UTRocketsDotCom