With the switch back to the 4-3, the premium on the play of the linebackers will be even higher for the Mean Green in 2007. Fortunately there will be plenty of experience returning as seven different linebackers who started at least one game last season are back.
Senior Maurice Holman looks poised for a stellar closeout to his career after finishing second on the team in tackles and earning all-conference honors the past two years. Holman has 179 career tackles and is expected to be a vocal leader for the entire defense. Brandon Monroe and former walk-on Derek Mendoza have the most experience of the remaining linebackers and are expected to battle for the remaining two starting positions. The two seniors split time at the same position last year but will benefit by playing beside each other this year.
Underclassmen were forced to play a considerable role on a youthful team in 2006, particularly at the linebacker position. With the learning curve out of the way players like Colt Mahan, Tobe Nwigwe and Germaine Dawson will each have the opportunity to make an even bigger impact this season. Mahan made his splash by leading the team in tackles in each of his first two career starts, and Dawson finished in the top five on the team in tackles after earning starts in each of the first 11 games of the year. Dawson’s 54 tackles was the most by a freshman since teammate Brandon Monroe had 62 in 2004. Fellow freshman Nwigwe proved to be a big-play specialist finishing second on the team with seven tackles for a loss while starting all 12 games. Redshirt freshman Craig Robertson has also made a quick impression on the coaches and will battle to be in the two deep.
Top Returning Tacklers in Linebacker Corps
Maurice Holman 74
Germaine Dawson 54
Colt Mahan 53
Derek Mendoza - 41
Brandon Monroe - 38