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2017 West Virginia Mountaineers Position Overview: Linebackers

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The one position on defense without a lot of turnover will be needed to bring the #DAWGS for the Mountaineers

NCAA Football: Russell Athletic Bowl-West Virginia vs Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

In 2016, the Mountaineers had a senior-laden defensive line that grew up in the Big 12 and knew what Tony Gibson wanted and expected. In 2017, the Mountaineers are expected to start two sophomores beside a rotating field of defensive tackles.

2016 Exodus

Justin Arndt epitomized the state of West Virginia and the West Virginia Mountaineers. He was tough, blue-collar, no-nonsense and hit like a Mack truck. Arndt went from walk-on to starting linebacker.

Sean Walters started the year starting but was eventually supplemented by do-it-all linebacker David Long. That didn’t stop Walters from taking down the ball carrier 23 times including twice behind the line of scrimmage.

2017 West Virginia Linebackers

Player Year 2016 Stats Height / Weight
Player Year 2016 Stats Height / Weight
Al-Rasheed Benton R-Sr 80 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 Int 6-1 / 238
Hodari Christian R-Sr 4 tackles, 2 TFL 6-0 / 228
Xavier Preston Sr 11 tackles, 1 TFL 6-2 / 240
Quondarius Qualls Jr 55 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 1 INT (NWMCC) 6-1 / 222
David Long R-So 63 tackles, 4.5 TFL 5-11 / 222
Shea Campbell R-So DNP 6-0 / 228
Adam Hensley So 1 tackle 6-3 / 228
Jonah Campbell R-Fr DNP (Redshirt) 6-1 / 227
Zach Sandwisch R-Fr DNP (Redshirt) 6-2 / 221
Brendan Ferns R-Fr DNP (Redshirt) 6-2 / 230
Logan Thimons R-Fr DNP (Redshirt) 6-1 / 228
Dylan Tonkery R-Fr DNP (Redshirt) 6-0 / 222
Luke Williams R-Fr DNP (Redshirt) 6-0 / 216
Jake Abbot Fr DNP (High School) 6-0 / 220
Tyler Lawrentz Fr DNP (High School) 6-0 / 212
Henry Cook Fr DNP (High School) 6-3 / 228
Nunu Cunningham Fr DNP (High School) 5-11 / 208

Al-Rasheed Benton

The leader of the ‘backers, Benton was all over the field last year on his way to finishing second on the team in tackles with 80, behind only tackling machine Justin Ardnt’s 84 tackles. Benton will man the Mike linebacker for Tony Gibson’s #DAWGS

Xavier Preston

Preston will help backup the Sam linebacker. Preston is invaluable on special teams where he collects most of his playing time.

Hodari Christian

Christian will also help backup the linebackers while adding experience on the special teams unit. Christian has the ability to play both the Mike and Sam position, giving Tony Gibson another experienced, versatile senior when the situation is needed.

Quondarius Qualls

The guy with the best name on the team will be a junior this season after spending the last two years at Northwest Mississippi Community College. Qualls will likely redshirt this year unless he forces the hands of the coaches. He has three seasons to play two.

David Long

Long suffered a minor knee injury during the offseason that required surgery. He is expected to miss the first month of the season, though head coach Dana Holgorsen has hinted he could be back sooner. Long forced the hand of the coaches last year and eventually took the starting job from Sean Walters.

Brendan Ferns

The prized recruit from 2015, Ferns was expected to start from Day One. A torn ACL put those plans on hold. With Long’s injury, Ferns was expected to slide over to the outside spot until Long returned but Tony Gibson has hinted that Ferns will be used to backup Al-Rasheed Benton.

Dylan Tonkery

Tonkery, the brother of Wes, has been praised by coaches all spring and summer. Tonkery’s name keeps coming up as “testing out elite” which is something that freshman just don’t do. Tonkery has been praised as putting “that W-V on his chest” and wearing it with pride.

Logan Thimons

Thimons is a stout MIKE ‘backer who will provide depth behind Benton and Ferns this season. Thimons will remain one of my favorite players on the team just because I will be able to use this gif.