We’ve reached the month of August, which means we’re now less than a month away from the opening kickoff of the 2013 season. As the countdown continues, we now turn our attention to the linebacker position for the Wildcats.
K-State’s biggest defensive loss was undoubtedly the graduation of linebacker Arthur Brown, the leading tackler last season for the Wildcats with 100 total tackles, and the 2012 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. They also graduated outside linebacker Jarrell Childs, the team’s fourth leading tackler with 66 total tackles.
You might think this would leave K-State struggling with such big shoes to fill, but the Wildcats have several players who should help make the transition easier.
Chief amongst those players is returning senior Tre Walker. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Olathe, Kansas native returns this season after suffering a season-ending injury in last year’s game against Texas Tech.
Between his injury and sharing time at linebacker with Childs, Walker had a limited impact last season, registering only 19 tackles before his season was cut short. Named a team captain this year, he’ll no doubt be looking to step up during his final season in a Wildcat uniform and move beyond a role as a vocal leader, the role he adopted while on the sidelines last year.
Another senior who returns looking to make an impact at the linebacker position is Blake Slaughter. Slaughter joined the Wildcats as a freshman at the start of the 2009 season, and had a breakout year in 2010 as a sophomore, where he won four starts and made 47 total tackles on the year.
With the transfer of Arthur Brown from Miami, Slaughter saw considerably less playing time as a junior in the 2011 season, seeing action in 12 games, mostly on special teams, where he made 2 tackles during the season. Knowing he would see limited time behind Arthur Brown, Slaughter was red shirted for the 2012 season in order to give more depth to the 2013 squad.
The 5-foot-10, 227-pound Texan will be a starter this year, and will have much to prove stepping into the shoes of Brown. He had an impressive spring game, leading the first-team defense with 9 total tackles, but we will have to wait and see how he does against first-team offenses in the Big 12.
Another player who will have much to prove entering the 2013 season is Jonathan Truman. Truman, a 5-foot-11, 219-pound Junior, played in every game in 2012 as a backup linebacker, notching 25 total tackles and two fumble recoveries. The former walk-on has done well on special teams in the past; he’ll now fight for a starting spot this year.
Also battling for a starting position will be freshman Nick Ramirez. Ranked as a four star recruit by Rivals, the 6-foot-1, 228 pound Ramirez was the 3rd best linebacker in the state of Missouri and turned down 9 other scholarship offers en-route to Manhattan. He’ll have to work hard if he wants to find a starting role, but will undoubtedly have an impact at linebacker for K-State.
If the Wildcats’ depth at linebacker is tested again this year through injury, they will probably first turn to sophomore linebacker Mike Moore. Moore, a 6-foot, 217 pound Dallas, Texas native played in 10 games last season, primarily on special teams where he’ll no doubt have a role again this year.
Returning after he was redshirted last year as a freshman, Will Davis could see time at linebacker, but is more likely to find a niche on special teams in his first season on the squad.
Opening kickoff is just a few weeks away, and we’ll continue our position previews next, rounding out the defense by taking a look at the defensive line for Bill Snyder’s Wildcats.