As is the case at running back, the depth chart at linebacker is extremely young. In fact, the 2010 Frogs do not have a senior among their linebacking corps, so I could probably just copy & paste this post when inventory...ing? the '11 linebackers.
In recent years, TCU has become a factory for NFL linebackers. David Hawthorne, Robert Henson, Jason Phillips and Daryl Washington are all now drawing paychecks in the league. The next to join them will be junior Tank Carder. Going into last season, there was some question about how he would react to being given starting duties, but he did not disappoint. Tank finished second on the team in tackles, recorded 10 tackles for a loss, 2 sacks and intercepted or broke up 11 passes to earn 2nd-Team All-MWC honors. He's the preseason Defensive Player of the Year for the conference in 2010, and should be the leader of this defense for the next two seasons. He did miss some time in the spring with a shoulder injury, although all indications are that it isn't as serious as was first thought and he isn't expected to miss any time this fall.
Pencilled in as the second starter alongside Tank in the Frogs' 4-2-5 scheme is sophomore Tanner Brock. Brock, who played in all 13 games as a true freshman last fall, is probably best known to Frog fans for his helmetless block against SMU during Jeremy Kerley's punt-return TD. He is the 6th-leading returning tackler, having recorded 32 last year.
Also vying for a share of the playing time in the rotation will be junior Kris Gardner and sophomores Kenny Cain and Greg Burks. Gardner, who was originally recruited as a tight end, recorded 19 tackles last year, along with a sack against Colorado State. Cain, wearing Henson's old #51, tallied 8 tackles in 8 games in an injury-shortened true freshman campaign. Burks' main contribution was on special teams, where he blocked two punts and had one of the year's biggest hits against San Diego State, showing the kind of explosiveness that made him a top recruit coming out of Spring Woods.
Two walk-on's that earned some playing time on special teams as true freshmen return as sophomores in 2010. David Stoltzman, out of Southlake and Logan Sligar, out of Marietta, GA, will likely continue to contribute in that area this year but may work their way into the rotation on defense.
Marcus Mallett, who had offers from schools in the Big 12, SEC and Big Ten coming out of Cleveland, TX, joins the Frogs this fall as a true freshman. The Frogs will also welcome Danny Heiss, a walk-on from Aledo.
Up Next: Defensive Backs