If Tim Brewster is looking for veteran leadership on his football team, he need look no further than the linebacker position. With three players returning with starting experience at that position and a two year starter from the line moving back there is no shortage of players with game time ready to compete. Senior Mike Sherels will be back in the middle and looking to post another 100 plus tackle season as a third year starter.
Linebacker for the 2007 Golden Gophers.
Two of the three projected starters will be starting for the third season. The only real problem comes on the weak side where they will likely be breaking in a new starter.
Senior Mike Sherels 6-foot-0, 235 pounds
Senior John Shevlin 6-foot-1, 225 pounds
Junior Steve Davis 6-foot-2, 235 pounds
Junior Deon Hightower 6-foot-2, 215 pounds
Junior Logan U'u 5-foot-11, 225 pounds
Mike Sherels and John Shevlin are the two known commodities at linebacker. Both have been solid players through out their careers as Gophers and should continue to grow this season. Sherels is coming off his best year, leading the team with 104 tackles. Shevlin is looking to bounce back from a season that saw him miss sometime in the middle of the year with injuries. Both have been named captains in 2007.
One of the biggest surprises of Spring Practice was the move of Steve Davis from defensive end to linebacker after starting all but one game on the line over the last two years. Davis seemed to have little problem adjusting to the linebacker spot, running with the first team for the majority of the spring. He should bring more speed and some pass rush ability to the linebacking corps.
Junior Deon Hightower started nine games on the outside last year for the Gophers. Despite weighing in at only 215 pounds, Hightower maybe the hardest hitter on the team. He is very athletic and runs well. The only real question on Hightower is can he hold up to a entire season playing linebacker in the Big Ten when he only weighs around 200 pounds. He will challenge Davis to start or be the top linebacker off the bench.
JUCO transfer Logan U'u came to the U in January and was limited in practice because of a knee injury. He is now fully healed and ready to play. He may be compact, but he hits like a ton of bricks. If he is fully healthy he should see some time in the middle backing up Sherels.