The Penn State Nittany Lions are well known for their linebackers, hence the moniker ‘Linebacker U’.
Personally, I don’t think they should have that nickname since they’ve only ever had four linebackers drafted in the first round, the last being LaVar Arrington in 2000, but there’s no doubt they produce a lot of solid, hard nosed linebackers. For comparison’s sake- the Miami Hurricanes have had five linebackers drafted in the first round since 1996- and that was Ray Lewis, maybe the greatest of all time.
But I’m not here to argue who should have the name of LBU. I want to talk about the present status of the linebackers at the Pennsylvania State University.
Last year, the Lions featured two excellent senior linebackers in Gerald Hodges and Mike Mauti. And they were everything you asked for in linebackers, especially Penn State linebackers. They were incredibly productive, were excellent leaders on and off the field, made big plays when it mattered and set the tone for the rest of the team.
That’s a Penn State linebacker. Hard nosed, strong, excellent leader, technically sound, etc.
But Hodges and Mauti are gone now, off to make salaries with a bountiful supply of zeroes in the NFL. So who in the world will be replacing these two guys?
Ladies and gentlemen, I present Glenn Carson and Mike Hull. If your PSU fans, then you’re probably very familiar with each of them.
Carson is the rock. The big middle linebacker has a combined 159 tackles the last two years playing directly between Hodges and Mauti. While his two teammates on the outside of him garnered all the recognition for their big plays, Carson was the quiet beast in the middle, fighting off blocks from interior linemen while punishing the thick Big Ten running backs. Carson is a senior now, and while he’s not the most vocal guy, there’s no doubt he’s the leader of the defense. There’s not a player or coach who isn’t impressed by his silent ruggedness. Expect Carson to improve upon his 85 tackles and a sack he registered from last year, and have a breakout season in 2013.
Hull is the playmaker. Anyone that follows PSU football is aware of his game breaking ability all over the field. And it’s not just on defense where he comes through with big plays – it’s on special teams as well. Last year, Hull registered 58 tackles, four sacks, one interception, two fumble recoveries (one was returned 74 yards for a touchdown) and a blocked punt (which he returned for another touchdown).
And to imagine he was a backup last year with numbers like that. Think about what he could do with a full season starting. Wow.
There’s no doubt in my mind Hodges and Mauti will be missed. You don’t just lose players like that and keep rolling as if it’s no big deal (unless you’re Alabama).
Carson and Hull are the men faced with the task of replacing All-Americans, but that’s what Penn State linebackers do. Think of just recent memory PSU linebackers. When Paul Posluszny left- was that the end of the line? Of course not, Dan Connor took over. After Connor’s All-American career concluded, what happened? Sean Lee and NaVorro Bowman produced All-American careers.
After them, Mauti and Hodges were passed the torch. Now it’s time for Carson and Hull.
Ya know, maybe they’re ‘Linebacker U’ after all.
Rick Stavig is a National Recruiting Columnist for RantSports.com. In addition to covering College Football, he also covers the NFL and NFL Draft. Follow him on Twitter @rickstavig or add him to your network on google.