With a week left before Letter of Intent signing day (Wednesday, February 1), we take a quick look at the Vandal football roster, and in particular Idaho's linebacker depth chart. Some personnel changes are in store as the team continues winter conditioning in preparation for spring drills. Look for several key players, including true junior-to-be Brandon Ogletree, to make position changes this spring.
The following information has been compiled over the course of the past couple weeks by numerous sources. In short, these are answers to a few of the questions we were wanting to ask, especially considering the new-found depth the team looks to have for 2006, given the athletes redshirted last fall, players returning from injury, and what looks like another solid recruiting class. Among the platoons that should be highly competitive next fall is the linebacking unit, particularly outside linebacker, where three "new" additions to the depth chart will be coming from within the Vandal ranks.
6-2, 210, Outside Linebacker
Long Beach, CA
Recruited to Idaho as an ATHLETE, Jason has proven to be exactly that in his first season with the Vandals. As a true freshman last fall, he began the year as part of the defensive back rotation. Then, when starting runningback Jayson Bird went down with a season ending shoulder injury, Jason moved from DB to runningback. This spring, with the runningback depth chart looking to be restocked through recruiting and players coming back from injuries (Bird and Devon Sturdivant), the coaching staff is expected to move Jason to outside linebacker in preparation for the 2006 season. He's a natural defender (fast, strong, and a heavy hitter), and should fit in nicely into the Vandal linebacker rotation. Whether that is at linebacker, or possibly a return to safety, will be ironed out in the months ahead.
6-0, 210, Outside Linebacker
Idaho's starting Free Safety at the beginning of last season, Jevon was hampered by an injury early in the fall and missed virtually all of the '05 season. Although he may be awarded a redshirt for last season (making him a RS-Soph this coming fall), reports from earlier this month indicate that Jevon will be given a strong look at outside linebacker for next fall. Whether he ends up in the rotation at safety or linebacker remains to be seen (depth at the two positions will likely be a factor), but getting the heavy hitter from western Washington back on the field in a Vandal uniform will be key.
6-3, 220, Outside Linebacker
"We need to find a way to get him on the field more." That goal, coupled with the fact that Brandon was a special teams demon last season, has prompted the coaching staff to explore moving Brandon back to outside linebacker for 2006. Blessed with outstanding size and speed, Brandon was the ultimate "team player" when he moved up to help at defensive end last fall...the first time in his career to play defensive end (he was a safety in highschool, and played safety and linebacker as a true freshman at Idaho). With Idaho's defensive end depth improved for 2006, Brandon will get a shot behind the line to utilize his speed and athleticism...a move that should further bolster the linebacker depth chart with Brown, Ogletree and Butler joining the mix.
6-1, 240, Defensive End
He's "too good" at defensive end, and reports are that that is where he will most likely play in 2006. An outstanding athlete who proved to be a solid rush-end last fall, the true-sophomore made his first appearance ever at Defensive End when Idaho took the field in the season opener against Wazzu. He went on to play in all 11 games, was fifth on the team in tackles (43, including 30 solo and seven tackles for loss), was second on the team with 4 sacks (3 QB hurries), and picked off a pass against UNLV which he returned 38 yards using his 4.5 speed. He split starting duties with JC transfer Charles Campbell, and the two proved to be a solid one-two punch for the Vandals in '05. Look for more of the same in '06.
With grayshirt freshman Adam Shamion joining the team in the spring, and recruit Paul Senescall expected to be joining the team in the fall, Idaho should have outstanding depth behind the defensive line (particularly with the return of '05 starters David Vobora and Josh Bousman back in the mix). Both Shamion and Senescall are strong candidates to take over at Middle Linebacker in 2006, and the competition throughout the linebacking chart should be intense.