Greetings, Lion fans. It’s 48 days until kickoff, and my, how time flies. Today, we’ll take a look at another group of Lion defenders, the linebackers and secondary.
When it comes to defense, the position of linebacker and defensive back is one of the most difficult to play. These positions not only demand the speed and quickness to defend against the four and five wide receiver sets in the spread formation, it also requires the strength and technique to take on a 300 pound plus offensive lineman, and still be able to tackle more elusive running backs. If that isn’t enough to cause continued sleepless nights for defensive coaches, rules changes that limit what the backs and linebackers are able to do in pass coverage present even more problems.
However, in 2019, the strength of the Lions lies in the defense, particularly in these areas. The defensive backs return intact, and the linebackers, despite losing two starters, return players that saw a great deal of action in 2018, and are hungry to etch their names in Lion Blue Gang lore. Let’s take a look:
#28 Mark Westbrook- 5’11” 195 lbs., Sr.- Westbrook was the third leading tackler for the Lions in 2018, producing 71 tackles, 49 unassisted, 5 passes broken up, and an interception. Westbrook plays much bigger than his size would indicate.
#33 Neema Behbahani-6’1″ 230 lbs., RS-Sr. -Behbahani totaled 59 tackles last year, 30 solos, and an impressive 11 tackles for loss. He has the size and strength to be a force against the run, as well as the speed and instincts to defend the pass.
#31 Jay Bias- 5’9″ 180 lbs., RS-Jr. and #50, Xavier Morris-6’1″ 220 lbs., RS-Jr.- Bias and Morris are eager to return to the field after recovering from a spring break incident in which both were wounded in a robbery attempt. Bias did see action in 12 games in 2018, and Morris 6.
#4 Jaylon Edwards-Cooper 5’11” 175 lbs., RS-Sr.- Edwards-Cooper was a standout this past season, contributing 44 tackles, 34 unassisted, with 7 tackles for loss. Cooper also had 2 interceptions, 10 passes broken up, and 2 forced fumbles.
#20 Dominique Ramsey 5’9″ 180 lbs., RS-Jr.- Ramsey is an electrifying player, posting 37 total tackles, 27 solos, and a tackle for loss. He led the Lions in interceptions with 3, and broke up 6 passes. Possessing great speed, Ramsey is among the best in all of Division 2 returning punts and kickoffs.
#1 LA Dawson 6’0″ 180 lbs., Sr.-Dawson always seemed to be around the ball in 2018, totaling 33 tackles, 25 unassisted, with 2 tackles for loss. He also had an interception, and had 12 passes defensed.
#10 Alex Shillow 5’10” 180 lbs., RS-Sr.-Shillow returns as the leader of the secondary, contributing 40 tackles, a tackle for loss, and an interception and pass defensed. A standout on the 2017 championship team, he will graduate in August with a BS degree in Sport & Recreation Management, accomplishing this feat in 3 years.
#8 Kader Kohou 5’9″ 180 lbs., RS-Jr.-Kohou was a steady presence in the defensive backfield in 2018, with 45 tackles, 37 solos, and 3 1/2 tackles for loss. Kohou had 2 interceptions, led the Lions with 16 passes broken up. He also contributed 3 forced fumbles, and recovered 1.
It is a well known fact in football that while offense sells tickets, it is defense that wins championships. In this area, the Lions have a rich tradition of outstanding defensive units. This season looks to be no different. Overall, the Lions possess an outstanding blend of size, speed, aggressiveness, and what may be the most important trait of a great defense, a nasty attitude. Every play is a street fight. Every yard is given up reluctantly. Every point surrendered is taken personally. The Lion defense has all of these attributes. It should be fun to see.
It’s almost that time, fans. See You at The Hawk.