Of course, the first player that comes to mind on the Linebacker Corps is Luke Rhodes. Rhodes, a rising Junior, is entering his 3rd year as a starter at the Linebacker position for the Tribe. On a defensive unit that was one of the best in the entire FCS last season, Rhodes started all 12 games and was second on the team with 98 total tackles—just behind current Detroit Lion, Jerome Couplin, who finished with 113 total tackles.
Rhodes’ numbers were good for 12th in the Colonial Athletic Association in tackles per game (8.2), and helped him earn him first-team all-conference honors in the CAA. All of Rhodes’ success has led to Laycock naming Rhodes a team captain in what will only be his Junior year—captains are almost always Seniors. Nevertheless, the prestigious title is more than deserved.
Lining up alongside Luke Rhodes is another star at the linebacker position named Airek Green. The 6’0’’ 225 pound senior from Chester, Virginia also started all 12 games last season, racking up 82 total tackles and three interceptions in the process.
Green’s interception total came in at 7th in the CAA, and his tackles for loss per game (1.08) was good for 9th in the CAA. Green, like Rhodes, was also awarded with All-CAA honors for his effort.
This season, both Green and Rhodes are again tasked to lead the Tribe defense from the Linebacker position. Having both players start all 12 games last season was a key ingredient for success in a year that saw the Tribe’s defensive unit reach new heights. Their importance becomes even more pronounced when one recognizes how young the depth at Linebacker is behind these two players.
Not counting Green and Rhodes, the roster boasts just 1 Junior, 3 Sophomores, and 3 Freshman (no Seniors) at the Linebacker position. That means there’s some room to develop some of these young guns, which can be good and bad. The biggest loss from last year at the Linebacker position was Quincey September.
September played out his last season of eligibility, as he was a Senior last year. September’s absence represents 49 tackles at the linebacker position that will have to be accounted for this season. It will largely be up to Rhodes and Green, proven starters, and perhaps one or two more young backers on the roster, to continue the Tribe’s recent dominance at the Linebacker position.
Rhodes’ and Green’s combined statistics last year totaled 180 total tackles and 4 interceptions. If these two can start another 12 games this season for the Tribe, they will again comprise one of the most potent Linebacker combinations in all of the FCS.