A Look at the 2008 SFA Linebackers
Aug. 24, 2008
NACOGDOCHES - A versatile position on the field, linebackers must be aware of everything taking place on the field. Whether its stepping up to stuff the run, or dropping back to aid in pass protection, linebackers are in the midst of it all. In 2008, SFA would probably just settle for having its linebacking core remain on the defensive side of the ball.
Due to injuries, the 'Jacks were forced to rotate one its top linebacking prospects from defense to offense. It worked out well, as Garrison native Jabara Williams finished second on the team in rushing, despite being brought to campus to be the future of SFA linebackers. By the way, his defensive numbers weren't too bad either, finishing with 58 total tackles, including 3.5 for losses, and a fumble recovery.
With those kind of numbers splitting his time between running back and linebacker it's almost scary to think, well scary for opposing offensive coordinators, what Williams could do when he commits his focus to just one position.
"What he did last year was unbelievable," said first-year linebackers coach Eric Lokey. "I couldn't imagine playing both ways at this level, and to do it as consistently as he did is impressive to me. In our scheme, we have to have athletic individuals in the middle, and he fits that mold."
When you look at the '08 SFA linebackers, Williams will be forced to carry the bulk of the load. He, along with 6-2, 200-pound sophomore, Nolan Loflin is the elder statesman on the squad. SFA does have one junior, Joe Savoie, and although he showing a ton of improvement, Savoie is a convert from the offensive side of the ball and is entering his first full year at the position.
"Joe is not totally new to the position," said Lokey. "He was a linebacker at Army before transferring here to SFA, but he only about 10 days in at the position during the spring. He has worked very hard to learn the position, and is making great progress."
Despite the youth, SFA is not without its talent at the position. With Williams locking down the middle, SFA will turn to Loflin and true freshman Derrick Choice to protect the outside. Loflin is another great story for Lumberjack fans. A 2007 walk-on, he wasn't expected to see a lot of playing time, but then SFA was stung by injuries, and in stepped Loflin to pick up the slack.
"Nolan was a strong safety in high school," said Lokey. "But he has worked real hard to come in here, put on some muscle mass and be able to play linebacker. He is that athletic type player that I've been describing. I think Nolan has a big future here. He is a tough kid who makes plays."
Choice was a member of a strong recruiting class of linebackers that the coaching staff feels could come in and play right away. Choice was a two-time first-team all-district selection who finished his prep career with 226 total tackles.
SFA will also have two other members of the talented recruiting class that are fighting for early playing time. Grapevine standout, Logan Mullins, is currently listed as the backup at the strong-side linebacker, while 5-11, 210-pound Brandon Brown is slated to backup Williams at the middle linebacker spot.
Mullins was also a first-team all-district selection who scored 26 touchdowns offensively, and posted 192 tackles, 24 sacks and picked off four passes as a linebacker. He is expected to push Loflin for playing time.
Another first-team all-district selection, Brown earned district defensive player of the year honors as a senior. He wrapped up his career with 170 total tackles.
"All three of our freshmen have come in and picked things up very fast," said Lokey. "I've been very impressed with them being able to step in right out of high school and become part of the rotation."