As Nebraska moves into the Big Ten Conference, HuskerOnline.com will get you ready with ranking analysis pieces breaking down each position in the league. Today we look at the linebacker position in the Big Ten heading into 2011.
Despite the fact Lavonte David didn't arrive to Nebraska until mid summer in 2010, the junior college transfer linebacker still managed to shatter the single-season tackle record at NU. David finished the season with 152 tackles, including 15 tackles for loss, 10 pass break-ups and six quarterback sacks. As David continues to grow in Bo Pelini's defense, his productivity should only increase. A big question for David in 2011 is how he'll match-up in the run orientated Big Ten vs. the pass heavy Big 12. As a junior David was a unanimous All-Big 12 selection, and a first team All-American according to both Rivals.com and CBSSports.com.
2. Michael Mauti , Penn State, 6-2, 235, Sr.
Linebacker Michael Mauti came to Penn State as a U.S. Army All-American out of high school, but a knee injury sidelined him for the 2009 season. However, Mauti bounced back last season to finish with 67 tackles and 5 ½ tackles for loss. Most expect him to be one of the leaders of the Nittany Lion defense in 2011.
3. Andrew Sweat, Ohio State, 6-2, 240, Sr.
As a junior, Andrew Sweat finished the year with 41 tackles and three tackles for loss. However, with the Buckeyes young and inexperienced defense, expect Sweat to be one of OSU's top players on defense as he has a chance to contend for All-Big Ten honors.
4. Mike Taylor, Wisconsin, 6-2, 225, Jr.
Wisconsin linebacker Mike Taylor went down with a knee injury in 2009 after starting the first seven games to finish with 46 tackles and 6 ½ tackles for loss. Taylor came back off that injury last year to start every game and finish the year with 58 tackles and eight tackles for loss. It appears coming out of the spring Taylor is back to the player he once was before the knee injury that knocked him out in 2009.
5. James Morris, Iowa, 6-2, 225, So.
Iowa sophomore linebacker James Morris is a rising star in the Big Ten. Last year Morris was named a freshman All-American finishing with 70 tackles and 2 ½ tackles for loss. Out of high school Taylor was the back-to-back Iowa state Gatorade Player of the year in 2008 and 2009.