One of the most notable improvements in the Vandal defense last year was the overall depth of the linebacking corp. Idaho rotated 6 linebackers extensively all season in their 4-3 defensive alignment. Consequently, 4 of the top 7 tacklers on the team last year were linebackers. Given that this group lost just 2 players to graduation, the outlook for the platoon is bright.
There are couple of notable change in the group, however. Senior Jordan Lampos, a fixture on the Vandal defense since he made the rotation as a true freshman, has been moved to fullback. We at VV.com certainly aren't football guru's, but on the surface this move should make the fullback depth chart deeper. Jordan's a tough customer, and should be in the thick of the hunt for playing time.
The other major change involves senior defensive end Kody Kraus who joins the linebacking unit this spring. He came to Idaho after a solid JC career at linebacker, and he should help further solidify a young depth chart in 2003.
Below is a look at the depth chart of players expected to contribute this spring, and ultimately next fall.
Returning Starters: Patrick Libey, Chad Kodama
Idaho is in the fortunate position of returning 2 starters from last seasons improved unit. The group is led by 3rd year starter (and 2nd year Middle Linebacker) Patrick Libey. This walk-on from Central Valley High in Spokane has put in the hard work and dedication to make himself a fixture on the Vandal defense. He was second on the team in tackles last year (and was 4th as a sophomore), and picked off a pass. Fellow senior, Weakside Linebacker Chad Kodama, broke into the starting lineup in the first game against BSU and never looked back. This one-time Quarterback recruit out of Seattle made a strong transition to linebacker, and ended the year 7th on the team in tackles (48), with 2 sacks and an interception.
6-2, 235, Sr
In a roster move of major note, senior Kody Kraus will also be added to the linebacking unit this spring. He was an All-Conference linebacker at Rick's College before coming to Idaho, but was moved to Defensive End last spring to give that group more depth going into the fall. Not only did he add depth to the ends, he ended up starting 8 games last year for the Vandals. He ended 2002 13th on the team in tackles, and also recorded a sack while often lining up against tight ends. Wherever he lines up this year behind the DL, he should make the linebacking rotation even deeper.
The group behind these 3 seniors, though athletic, is young. Leadership by all 3 will be essential this fall.
Players on the rise: Mike Anderson
Redshirt freshman (and walk-on) Strongside Linebacker Mike Anderson of Lewiston stepped in last fall and made a name for himself. How? By ending the year 4th on the team in tackles, with 7 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 interception, and 2 pass breakups....all as a back-up linebacker. Mike snuck in under the radar screen (well, MOST radar screens) and has made his claim to be a fixture in the Vandals starting line-up soon, and very possibly this year.
6-4, 238, So
Behind Mike and the seniors is a young group comprised of freshmen. Keep an eye out for redshirt freshman Jaron Williams (6-2, 223) out of Pasadena, CA who last fall worked alot at Weakside Linebacker. Also look for fellow redshirt freshman Robert Davis out of Simi Valley, CA who has moved up from the defensive backfield. He used his redshirt year in the weightroom to add 25 pounds to his tall frame (6-4, 224), and he should be in the thick of the mix for PT.
Whether or not Linebackers Coach Rich Fisher (4th year) will be employing a 6-man rotation again this year remains to be seen, but the outlook is excellent for the future of this group.
Newcomers: Josh Bousman, Chad Pool, Sam Tossie
In a nutshell, this is one heck of a decorated group of athletes. Josh is the 2-time Washington Class 1A state champ in the 100 (and 1st Team All-State runningback). Chad is a 2-Time Southern Nevada Defensive MVP. Sam is a 1st Team Class 6A All-State Linebacker out of Kansas. Clearly, Idaho's depth at linebacker afforded them the ability to focus their recruiting efforts on highschoolers, and Cable certainly found three gems to build around for the future.
6-1, 237, Fr
If needed all 3 could see action this fall. However, look for Chad to start making an immediate impact on Special Teams at some point during the 2003 campaign.
* = walk-on last fall
Returning starters listed in BOLD
Players with starting experience (+) listed below starters
Remaining players listed by class
Chad Kodama, 6-2, 235, Sr|
Patrick Libey, 6-2, 240, Sr
(^) Kody Kraus, 6-3, 236, Sr
(+) Mike Anderson, 6-4, 238, So
Robert Davis, 6-4, 224, RS-Fr
Jaron Williams, 6-2, 223, RS-Fr
Josh Bousman, 6-2, 205, True-Fr
Chad Pool, 5-10, 180, True-Fr
Sam Tossie, 6-1, 237, True-Fr
^ Started 8 games in 2002 as a DE
Kody Kraus, 6-3, 235, Sr