The Baylor Bears will be looking to defend their Big 12 title in 2014 and will once again boast one of the nation’s most explosive offensive attacks. However, it will likely be the defense that will ultimately decide how far the Bears go in their conference title hunt this season as a big defensive stop will inevitably be the difference in a close game this season. For Baylor, that means they will need linebacker Bryce Hager to bounce back as a leader this fall and solidify the Bears’ defensive attack in 2014.
Last season, Hager saw his season cut short after nine games due to injury but still managed to finish third on the team with 71 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack, and nine quarterback pressures. It was a bit of a drop off from his breakout sophomore season when he recorded 124 tackles with 9.5 tackles for loss and four sacks, but he was still on pace for an extremely productive year, highlighted by a 91-yard fumble return for a touchdown against the Buffalo Bulls.
This year, Hager’s presence will be even more important as the team loses fellow linebacker Eddie Lackey who led the team with 108 tackles in 2013. The Bears will also be replacing Brody Trahan in the linebacker corps, who finished third among linebackers with 42 tackles last season. There will be some inexperienced faces filling out the defense at linebacker in 2014 and they will need someone to follow. That leader should be Bryce Hager.
While the defense for Baylor is often overlooked, it will eventually be the difference between the Bears having a good season or a great one. With the amount of turnover taking place this offseason on the defensive side of the ball, the team needs a veteran leader to step up and take the reins. Can Bryce Hager prove up to the task?