The rankings give fans an idea of what teams they should keep an eye on. But let’s put a player-focus spin on Top 25 szn. In this summer series, we’ll rank the Top 25 returning players at every position.
Next up are the linebackers.
Best Returning LBs
25. Jack McDonald, Austin Peay
24. Foday Jalloh, Central Connecticut State
23. Da’Quan Grimes, Monmouth
22. Spencer Cuvelier, Northern Iowa
21. Trevor Williams, Sam Houston
20. Jared Folks, ETSU
19. Tyler Dressler, Richmond
18. Armoni Holloway, Alabama A&M
17. La’akea Kaho’ohanohano-Davis, Southern Utah
16. Glenn Cunningham, Fordham
15. Levi Metheny, Murray State
14. Isaac Dowling, Mercer
13. Bryce Flater, Northern Iowa
12. Tristan Wheeler, Richmond
11. Adrian Hope, Furman
10. Keonte Hampton, Jackson State
9. Troy Andersen, Montana State
8. Stone Snyder, VMI
7. Conner Mortensen, Weber State
6. Forrest Rhyne, Villanova
RELATED: Position Rankings Home Page
The Top 5
5. Ryan Greenhagen, Fordham
Greenhagen is a tackling machine and a sturdy presence at 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds. As a freshman All-American in 2018, he racked up 65 tackles, 15 TFLs, and eight sacks. Greenhagen got even better in 2019, earning sophomore All-American honors with 123 tackles, 18.5 TFLs, 4.5 sacks, and eight quarterback hurries. A Third Team Stats Perform All-American this spring, he played in three games and had 22 tackles.
4. Logan Backhaus, South Dakota State
Backhaus has been a starter on SDSU’s defense since 2017. The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder has great range and instincts on the field, and 2019 was when he really established himself nationally as a standout linebacker, totaling 79 tackles, four interceptions, and nine passes defended. He put together a special season in the spring with 72 tackles, 9.5 TFLs, two sacks, and an interception in 10 games. Backhaus was named on four All-American teams.
3. Jace Lewis, Montana
You need to be a special kind of player to play middle linebacker in Montana’s defense. The 3-3-5 scheme that Bobby Hauck once referred to as “This Voodoo, BS defense we run” is conducive to MLBs loading up on tackles, but you also need great talent at that position to successfully execute the defense. Dante Olson won the Buck Buchanan Award in 2019 with 179 tackles. Next to him was Lewis, who wasn’t too shabby either with 131 tackles. With Olson gone, Lewis will be next in a long line of All-American linebackers from Montana.
2. Willie Eubanks III, The Citadel
Eubanks flies around the field and is highly disruptive to offenses. NFL scouts love his motor and size at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds. After an 80-tackle season in 2018, Eubanks went off in 2019, totaling 112 tackles, 11.5 TFLs, four sacks, 11 quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles, one interception, and four pass breakups. He was named to four All-American teams. Eubanks played in four games in 2020-21, highlighted by a nine-tackle performance against Clemson.
1. Tre Walker, Idaho
Walker makes his presence known with his hard-hitting play. A two-star recruit out of high school, he splashed onto the national scene in his second year on campus in 2019 with 138 tackles and nine TFLs. Walker was named a HERO Sports Sophomore All-American. In just four games in the spring, he racked up 54 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, and two sacks. Walker earned four All-American First Team honors along with one Second Team nod. Idaho has an excellent front seven, and Walker shines on that defense.