Fox Sports’ noted college football analyst, Bruce Feldman, has been spending his days leading up to the season releasing preseason positional rankings.
Earning the No. 2 spot on Feldman’s list, just behind Alabama, was Michigan State. The Spartans have some of the nation’s top athletes at the linebacker position, but it was their versatility that impressed Feldman.
“Another big plus with this group is that the players are so interchangeable, having the ability to play multiple linebacking spots,” He wrote. “Reschke can play all three positions. Sophomore Andrew Dowell, a former prep running back, may be the fastest of the bunch and is getting a good education learning from the older Spartan backers.”
Wisconsin came in at No. 4 on his list. Despite losing defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and linebacker Joe Schobert, the Badgers have tremendous talent returning.
“(Vince Biegel) had 14 TFLs and eight sacks to go with 66 tackles,” Feldman noted. “Pro Football Focus ranks Biegel as the nation’s top returning outside linebacker, grading him No. 1 both against the run and as a pass rusher. But it wasn’t Biegel or Schobert who led the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense (13.7 ppg) in tackles in 2015. That was T.J Edwards who also is back after making 84 tackles as a redshirt freshman last year.”
The final Big Ten team to crack Feldman’s rankings was Penn State, which landed at No. 9. There may not be anything flashy about the Nittany Lions’ linebackers, but they play very sound football and rarely make mistakes.
“Jason Cabinda made 100 tackles last year and he’s just very solid,” Feldman praised. “Senior Brandon Bell who plays field linebacker made 12.5 TFLs in 2015 and has a good knack for making plays.”