The top two tacklers from the team, senior Marty Mohamed and sophomore Kenny Jackson, are back and appear entrenched at the middle and sam linebacker spots. And the will position is perhaps the most deep and competitive spot of any on the team.
The concerns at this point are the depth behind the two returning starters and the question of who will win the spot on the weak side.
The main competition is between converted safety Johnny Millard (6-3, 220), a redshirt freshman, and junior Quentin Greenlaw (6-0, 220), a once-prized Rich Ellerson recruit who played as a true freshman but has yet to find his way into the starting lineup.
The third man in the mix is converted receiver Max Schulz (6-1, 206), who because of his size is probably better suited to play against passing teams or on passing downs.
All three seem likely to play, and the competition to see which gets the starting nod should be one of the most entertaining in camp.
Millard’s father Keith was a thin guy at 6-6 when he entered college at Washington State, but he filled out to become a nine-year NFL pro who set the record for sacks by a defensive tackle.
Johnny is hoping the family genes allow him to gain enough bulk to make him a formidable linebacker.
Mohamed’s younger brother Kyle (6-2, 225) is someone head coach Tim Walsh is hoping can compete for a backup role, and so is redshirt freshman middle linebacker Cole Stanford (6-2, 220), a high school receiver and safety at Nevada Union who is playing linebacker for the first time.
Former Mission Viejo standout Nick Dzubnar (6-2, 220) could be a candidate for a backup role if the reserves already in the program can’t sew up their spots. You may also see Dzubnar redshirt if everyone stays healthy.