Jake Ryan moving to the middle of the Michigan linebacking corps has drawn plenty of attention locally. The big picture involves some strong linebackers around the league, and here's an early look.
Here are top five in the Big Ten Conference, in our estimation, with some honorable mentions among the 'backers listed as well.
1. Jake Ryan, Sr., Michigan - Ryan spent the final weeks of the 2013 season shaking off the rust after ACL rehab. He should be fully ready to go when the 2014 season kicks off, and his adjustment to middle linebacker will be crucial.
2. Mike Hull, Sr., Penn State - Linebacker U's latest posted 78 tackles and 4.5 tackles-for-loss a year ago. He's under a new coaching staff but armed with on-field experience.
3. Taiwan Jones, Sr., Michigan State - Jones has made 123 career stops in Michigan State's title campaign and stands out as the veteran leader of a group that lost considerable experience.
4. Steve Longa, So., Rutgers - Longa piled up 123 tackles in 2013, becoming a freshman All-American for the Scarlet Knights. Now he gets to run head on into Big Ten competition.
5. Matt Robinson, Sr., Maryland - Robinson's 73 tackles in 2013 included 10 stops in the backfield. He too gets a look at a new league, at outside linebacker.
Best Of The Rest
6. Chi Chi Ariguzo - Northwestern
7. Mason Monheim - Illinois
8. James Ross III - Michigan
9. Zaire Anderson - Nebraska
10. David Cooper - Indiana