Meet the HBCU linebackers who will be impact players in 2023
Posted By: Sofía Montiel on May 31, 2023 |
Linebackers are, more often than not, the X-factor of the defense.
HBCU players such as James Houston, Aubrey Miller, and Isaiah Land are examples of linebackers who excelled at the position.
The next crop of linebackers aim to make a similar mark in 2023 and beyond. Here are the five linebackers to watch during the 2023 HBCU football season.
Jalan Campbell, Southern
With elite defenders such as Jordan Lewis, Jason Dumas, and Corione Harris all moving on from Southern, there will be a lot of eyes on Jalan Campbell to see what he is capable of.
Campbell was impressive in 2022, recording 82 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, six sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery for the SWAC West champions.
One standout performance included an 11-tackle, two-sack output in a Bayou Classic victory over Grambling State.
As the Jaguars look to defend their division title, Campbell will be the key to Southern remaining a top contender.
Shamar Graham, Virginia Union
The Panthers had the second-ranked defense in the CIAA last season, led by star linebacker Shamar Graham.
Graham put up big numbers in 2022, with 84 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, and three pass breakups but was not named to the All-CIAA team. That accolade could come in 2023.
Erick Hunter, Morgan State
Erick Hunter silently had an impressive 2022 season for Morgan State in their first season under head coach Damon Wilson.
Hunter compiled 77 tackles (led the team), 6.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, four pass breakups, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
His best performance came against Delaware State, in which he tallied 11 tackles, four tackles for loss, and a sack.
The sophomore linebacker will be looking for his first All-MEAC team selection while contributing to a Bears team poised to become a contender in the conference.
Kentrell Lawson, Fort Valley State
The Fort Valley State Wildcats are loaded with young, talented defensive players that played a significant role in the team’s 8-2 record in the 2022 season.
One of those defenders that shined for the Wildcats was sophomore linebacker Kentrell Lawson, who, along with freshman linebacker Dialo Mosley, was named All-SIAC.
Lawson finished the season with 55 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, one sack, a forced fumble, and a pass breakup.
With many of the Wildcats’ top defensive players returning in 2023, in addition to Lawson, this will be a tough team to deal with in the fall.
Isaiah Major, Florida A&M
The Florida A&M Rattlers have been consistently good since entering the SWAC in 2021, finishing with the second-best record in the conference each year.
Their defense has featured star power led by former Buck Buchanan award winner Isaiah Land.
However, now that Land is gone along with All-SWAC selections BJ Bohler and Kamari Stephens, new linebackers must step up for Florida A&M to contend for its first-ever SWAC championship.
Enter JUCO transfer Isaiah Major who had a breakout performance in his first season with the team last year.
Major posted 83 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, two pass breakups, and a fumble recovery. He was named to the All-SWAC Second Team.
SOURCE HBCU Sports
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