Better Worse Or Neutral: Linebackers

Ezra Shaw

Heading into 2012 linebacker was one of the biggest question marks the Huskies had. Heading out of 2012 the position looked solid for at least a couple of years to come.

Returning Players: Travis Feeney (So), Princeton Fuimaono (Sr), Jamaal Kearse (Jr), Scott Lawyer (So), Cory Littleton (So), Shaq Thompson (So), John Timu (Jr), Thomas Tutogi (Sr)

Losses: Blake Rodgers

Additions: Keishawn Bierria, Sean Constantine, Connor O'Brien, Azeem Victor

There's no mystery with the Huskies' linebacking corps. It's group manned by three players who all grabbed accolades at the end of last season (Honorable Mention All Conference for Feeney, Timu, and Thompson, and Freshman All American honors for Thompson), and Feeney has already checked in at #9 on our countdown of the top Huskies for 2013 (hint: Thompson will be making an appearance in the top 5). The youngsters form one of the best one-two punches in the country at the outside linebacker position in the country.

Leading the youngins is Timu, entering his 3rd straight year as a starter. He has gotten systematically stronger and better from season to season and from game to game, culminating in a 15 tackle (1.5 for loss) and 1 sack performance in the Las Vegas Bowl last season. There's no reason to think he won't continue to improve as 2013 begins and throughout the season.

The depth behind the three starters is enough to weather injuries and keep all members of the unit fresh. Fuimaono has played in 35 games - starting 16 - over the course of his career, while Tutogi has played in 22 and became a pivotal member of the rotation last season.

Cory Littleton is listed as a linebacker but in truth he's more of a defensive end, as he'll be in direct competition with Josh Shirley for a starting position and playing time as fall camp approaches and throughout the season.

The only loss from 2012 that this position sustained was Rodgers, who redshirted last year and as such never made a meaningful contribution on game days.

The Verdict: Better. And there's not really any way to argue otherwise. Everybody is back, and there's a ton of talent with good depth. This is probably the strongest overall position on the team heading into 2013.

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