August 30, 2012

Linebacker preview

Entering the 2011 season of the biggest question marks was how would Mississippi State replace the loss of all three linebackers.

A year later that is no longer an issue. In fact the biggest dilemma for linebackers coach Geoff Collins now is how to substitute in all of the talent that the Bulldogs have at that position.

"We've been rotating guys in and out with every group and every position actually," Collins said. "I think every kid regardless of year or what position has played every position this preseason. It's good to see. You throw them around and make them do different things. Just the learning it takes to know the stresses that each position has on it and with the way we teach things we can move them very easily in and out. It's good to see them move to a different spot and still play at a high level."

Collins stated that as many as eight linebackers got reps with the first team on a regular basis during fall camp.

Senior Cameron Lawrence is the leader of the linebacker corps. The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder is the leading returning tackler in the SEC and led MSU with 123 tackles in 2011. Lawrence has played in 35 career games making 171 tackles, eight for loss, three sacks and two interceptions.

"You can see the kids are starting to gravitate to Cam," Collins said. "Cam can recognize things with just the smallest of a split or a tight end or back checking something pre-snap. He takes all of that information in. He's taken all the younger guys and tried to help them use all those things. In one second you have to recognize that and Cam has the ability to do that and it's rubbing off on the other guys."

Another player expected to start and had a strong second half of the season last fall is Deontae Skinner. The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder started the final 11 games of 2011 and made 69 tackles, nine behind the line of scrimmage and forced two fumbles.



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