First, the inside guys:
1. Brandon Spikes, Florida–An HP preseason and postseason AA in 2008, he is the Butkus favorite after collecting 93 tackles, 8 TFL and 4 interceptions last year.
2. Rolando McClain, Alabama–Built upon a big freshman year with an even bigger sophomore year. Led the Tide with 95 tackles including 12 TFL and 8 pass deflections.
3. Pat Angerer, Iowa–Impressive in coverage, he had 5 interceptions last season while leading the Hawkeyes in tackles with 107.
4. Micah Johnson, Kentucky–The Wildcats were much improved defensively last year and Johnson is a big reason why. He had 13 TFL and 93 tackles.
5. Joe Pawelek, Baylor–A tackling machine who can do it all. Had 128 tackles, 7 pass breakups and 6 interceptions!
Honorable Mention: Ryan Reynolds, Oklahoma; Reggie Carter, UCLA; Martez Wilson, Illinois; Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina; Greg Jones, Michigan State
1. Navorro Bowman, Penn State–All over the field for the Nittany Lions last year, collecting 106 tackles, along with 16.5 TFL and 5 pass break ups. The latest addition to Linebacker U.
2. Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri–Had a staggering 155 tackles last year (which led the nation), including 18.5 for losses, 7 pass breakup and 3 interceptions.
3. Rennie Curran, Georgia–A third-team selection to last year’s HP AA team, he led Georgia with 115 tackles and 10 TFL.
4. Mark Herzich, Boston College–As productive a linebacker as you’ll see in all of college football. Had 110 tackles, with 13 TFL, 8 pass breakups and 6 interceptions.
5. Keenan Clayton, Oklahoma–Helped keep things together for the Sooners last year when Ryan Reynolds went down. Had 82 tackles, including 10 TFL and 9 pass breakups.
6. Clinton Snyder, Stanford–A tough, mouth-to-mouth tackler who had 58 tackles and 6.5 TFL last year. Very underrated.
7. Kavell Conner, Clemson–Led a stout Clemson defense with 125 tackles and 6 TFL.
8. Michael Mohamed, California–The Bears’ leading returning tackler with 87, he also had 3 interceptions and 6 TFL while starting only five games in 2008.
9. Nate Irving, NC State–A budding star who had 80 tackles, 11 TFL, 5 pass breakups and 4 interceptions despite only starting nine games last year due to injury.
10. Eric Norwood, South Carolina–An all-conference outside backer who had 75 tackles, 14.5 of them for a loss last year.
Honorable Mention: Patrick Benoist, Vanderbilt; Keaton Kristick, Oregon State; Cody Grimm, Virginia Tech; Sean Spence, Miami; Eric Norwood, South Carolina; Justin Winters, Buffalo