August 30, 2007

A&M linebackers putting fear back in opponents

A year ago Texas A&M switched to the 4-2-5, and even with the smaller number and dependence on linebackers the Aggies were thing. Justin Warren was the only proven commodity and the rest of the linebacking corps would be made of newcomers. Basically, no one could be sure just what the Aggies had.

Heading into the 2007 season the Aggies will be without Warren, but the linebackers are all of a sudden a strength. Junior college transfers Mark Dodge andMisi Tupe became pillars of the defense in 2006 with Tupe winning Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year. Sophomores Matt Featherston and Anthony Lewis have had such spectacular August camps that all four linebackers are sure to see plenty of time this season.

The expectations are starting to bring back memories of former Aggie linebacking greats Dat Nguyen, Quentin Coryatt, Jason Glenn and others. Still with a lot to prove, however, before reaching that monumental status, Linebacker U. could be coming back to Aggieland.

"That's kind of what we want to get back," Lewis said. "Of course we want our whole defense to be good, but when I came in coach would always talk about this is Linebacker U. That's what it was called in the old days. I want to be a part of bringing that back. I want us to be well known for out linebackers."

The Aggies are led by Dodge and Tupe, who at 26 and 25 years of age, respectively, aren't your typical linebackers.

"Being old a lot of the guys always joke around with us. 'You guys got to get your social security ready. You're getting too old for this,'" Tupe said. "We try to be an example. Me and Mark always joke around, 'Let's lead this team. We've got to take it to the top. We've got to take it to the next level.' At every practice when guys are down we're trying to push each other and the whole defensive side to take it another step and be proud. Even though we seem old we're out here doing our job and you've always got to do your best and just play it all out."

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