By Paul Sykes
Linebacker Brandon Heath wasn’t getting the job done in the classroom when Charlie Strong arrived at the University of Louisville. Apparently needing some motivation.
So the football coach calls Heath to his office for a little meeting. Picks up the phone for a conference call with mom, telling her that he is going to pack Brandon’s bags and send him home.
“Oh, no, don’t do that,” pleads his mom, according to Strong.
Strong accomplishes his purpose, providing Heath with all the inspiration he needs. He has found his focus in the classroom and was picked by Strong to be a co-captain. “We look to him as a leader now,” says Strong.
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One knows linebackers are generally doing their jobs on defense if the ball advances no more than four yards from where it started.Â The closer to the line of scrimmage the better the job. The farther away, well, you know. The linebackers on both sides are going to be severely tested with all the speedy running backs and receivers in the Louisville vs. Kentucky football showdown.
Louisville — Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford is counting on Brandon Heath to lead a hard hitting group of guys in the middle. Heath had 48 stops and two interceptions last year for the Cards. Joining Heath will be senior Antwone Canady, junior Dexter Heyman and sophomore Daniel Brown.
Canady is a proven playmaker from a season ago, Heyman seems better suited for linebacker than the experiment placing him on the defensive line earlier in his career and Brown has been getting raves during the fall practice for his tackling skills. The group is solidly backed up by Mike Privott, Eugene Sowell and Jacob Geffard.
Newcomers Preston Brown, Tyon Dixon, and Deon Rogers are impressive and could be used as freshmen. An additional potential bright star could be USC transfer Jordan Campbell. The Cards look solid here and should improve on last year’s allowance of 371 yards and 26.2 points allowed.
Kentucky –Â Returns one starter in junior outside linebacker Danny Trevathan. The staff is looking at redshirt freshman Qua Huzzie in the middle and senior Jacob Dufrense at the other outside spot. They’ll miss graduate Micah Johnson, leading tackler last season.
Coach Joker Phillips has recruited well at the position.Â Ridge Wilson and Ronnie Sneed add speed and depth. Wilson is from Louisville Central and will be a solid backup. Overall, the linebacking corps is a little quicker but lack of experience could cause problems.
Advantage — Louisville. Heath is the best in the position and Canady comes in second.