Posted by Bryan Fischer
Oxford (Ala.) star Kwon Alexander is the top linebacker in the nation according to CBS Sports/MaxPreps Recruiting Analyst Tom Lemming but there's a lot of football to be played between now and Signing Day. Here's five other linebackers - in no particular order - who you need to keep an eye out for this year. Each of them has a chance to move Alexander off the top spot and become the top linebacker for the class of 2012.
Deaysean Rippy (Sto-Rox High, McKees Rocks, Pa.)
Weight: 210 pounds
Offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Colorado, UConn, Florida, Florida State, Iowa, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, Pitt, South Carolina, Syracuse, Temple, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, Wisconsin
What's to like: It's no surprise to see Rippy become one of the most recruited athletes in the country after watching his film. He has been on the radar since his sophomore year and is a really versatile player as an outside linebacker. His pass rush skills are exceptional and he is fast enough to even be a safety at the next level. Rippy is one of the best players in coverage among this group of linebackers.
Needs to work on: Rippy is still a bit undersized if he wants to play outside linebacker in a 4-3 and could add a bit of weight.
Noor Davis (The Villages High, The Villages, Fla.)
Weight: 225 pounds
Offers from: Alabama, Boston College, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Louisville, Miami, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Pitt, Purdue, USF, Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee, UCF, UCLA, USC, Virginia
What's to like: Davis is an exceptional prospect at the outside linebacker position and it's hard not to like what you see when you see him in person or on film. He is a smart player on the field who reads the play quickly and almost always takes a good angle to make the tackle. It's almost funny to see him standout on the field due to his size and the way he hits.
Needs to work on: Davis needs to learn some of the nuances of playing outside linebacker and move beyond a pass rusher from the outside.
Jabari Ruffin (Downey High, Downey, Calif.)
Weight: 245 pounds
Committed to USC
What's to like: Ruffin certainly looks the part and is probably the best linebacker west of the Mississippi. He looked sharp at the recent LA Nike Camp and his athleticism jumps out at you when you realize he played offense last season. Not only does he have speed to burn but his explosiveness is really apparent when you see him get ready to deliver a big hit.
Needs to work on: There's not a whole lot more that Ruffin needs to do to be successful but he should benefit from playing only linebacker in college. Becoming a read and react player instead of relying mostly on his athleticism to make plays is the next step for him to become a great player.
Reggie Ragland (Bob Jones High, Madison, Ala.)
Weight: 235 pounds
Committed to Alabama
What's to like: Ragland's size and speed make him a very, very good prospect manning the middle linebacker position. He's instinctive and when he reads his keys is one of the best in the country. He fills gaps very well and usually ends up blowing people up rather than just tackling them. He also does a good job of engaging a defender and then getting said defender out of his way.
Needs to work on: Ragland is a bit of a lose cannon at times and sometimes tries to do too much. He'll need to improve his coverage skills as well, especially if he's to be a middle backer in a Cover-2 scheme that requires him to run down the field.
Cassanova McKinzy (Woodlawn High, Birmingham, Ala.)
Weight: 230 pounds
Committed to Auburn
What's to like: McKinzy's name first of all. Beyond that though, there's plenty of things that Auburn coaches saw in McKinzy, including great size and speed at outside linebacker. He's very athletic and could play running back at the next level if he wanted to. McKinzy wraps up very well when tackling and is very instinctive.
Needs to work on: McKinzy may have all the measurables but he is still a bit raw at linebacker. He'll need to refine his coverage skills and improve his ability to read and react.
2012 Linebackers to Watch
Posted on: April 4, 2011 2:12 pm
Tags: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Boston College, Cassanova McKinzy, Clemson, Colorado, Deaysean Rippy, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Iowa, Jabari Ruffin, Kwon Alexander, Lemming Top 100, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Noor Davis, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, Pitt, Purdue, Reggie Ragland, South Carolina, Stanford, Syracuse, Temple, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Tom Lemming, UCF, UCLA, UConn, USC, USF, Virginia, Wisconsin