Name-recognition wise, there aren't a ton of Lavar Arrington's in this group...Just a bunch of dominant Buckeyes with NFL futures. Woooo. That said, this is the B1G. We churn out surprisingly athletic, run-stuffing linebackers like its nobody's business. Here's the new group of battlers to know about.
1. Joshua Perry - OSU
Monstrously talented and by all accounts a good guy, the gap-filling Perry makes tons of tackle, a team leading 124 in 2014. His effort and team leadership are well known attributes...and it wasn't long ago that the OSU defense was giving up TONS of points and yards to Clemson and Michigan:
Perry has led what in some ways has been a resurgent year for Ohio State's linebackers. He said in August that a big part of the linebackers' struggles last year stemmed from sitting around, waiting for Ryan Shazier to make a play.
2. Ed Davis, Riley Bullough - MSU
Heir to the "Star Spartan LB" throne is Ed Davis...but the hype is pretty loud about Bullough, yes, another Bullough. What more do you need to know about this guy? A tremendous athlete who played RB in the past, Bullough is a fearless hitter and seems to know his role in the Spartan scheme.
"Riley Bullough, I think, will have a breakout year for us,'' Tressel said. "He has an intensity about him and a passion out on the field, leadership skills.
"We play better with him out there. If you watch the (game film) cutups, he made a mistake here or there, but he played physical and made a lot of plays.''
Bullough, 6-foot-2 and 237 pounds, might be even further along had he not been moved to running back two springs ago.
3. Darron Lee - OSU
The Sugar Bowl Defense Player of the Game is former QB recruit, undersized and somewhat unknown...Until now. Tell 'em Darron:
Darron Lee, a self-described "energy giver" as an Ohio State linebacker, sat on the raised platform inside the Superdome past midnight on Jan. 2 and rolled his eyes as questions about the Big Ten beating the SEC looped around. Earlier, he did his part in dispelling SEC supremacy, timing pass rushes to quarterback Blake Sims' cadence to collect seven tackles and two sacks with gypsy grace. He bobbed his head and chirped at Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin on the sideline after one play, later telling those curious about his words, "I know mama wouldn't be proud." Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who twice rejected Lee as a recruit, referred to Lee and his roommate, Ezekiel Elliott, as "two very valuable checkers." Lee replied, "Love you too, Coach."
Speeeeed and athleticism ooze from Mr. Lee's play. He makes...the big plays, albeit some ugly ones too.
4. Vince Biegel - Wisconsin
"Controlled Craziness" That's the term used to describe this LB from Madison, blessed with 4-star talent and a penchant for mullets. 2nd Team All-B1G and a key to that excellent Wisconsin run D, surely we'll hear more about Vince in 2015.
5. Joe Bolden - Michigan
Pretty rare that an individual who didn't make any kind of All-B1G team would get his name on this list, but Bolden will be counted on to lead the Wolverines defense this year. He's vocal and he made a ton of plays from the weakside last year. He loooooooooooves him some Harbaugh too. Let's hope Jim can keep Bolden away from another StakeGate this year.