2008 Season Previews: Linebackers

The future (left) and the recent past (right) of great UNC linebacking.

Starters: Mark Paschal (#41), Chase Rice (#44), Quantavius Sturdivant (#52)

Key Reserves: Bruce Carter (#54), Kennedy Tinsley (#36), Kevin Reddick

Overview:

Linebacker is perhaps the position where the Tar Heels have the biggest power vacuum. Leading tackler Durell Mapp graduated, and reliable backup Wesley Flagg was dismissed from the team. That leaves four linebackers with any real experience: Seniors Rice and Paschal, and sophomores Sturdivant and Carter. Sturdivant and the two seniors are expected to compose the starting lineup, with Carter getting serious playing time off the bench. The rest of the bench is an unknown at this position. Beginning to see a pattern here?

Paschal leads all returning linebackers with 53 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss last season. He will be held responsible for the middle linebacker position that Mapp left vacant. Chase Rice was a starter coming into the 2007 season, but his year quickly ended due to an ankle injury against James Madison. His role was partially filled by Bruce Carter, who had 25 tackles coming off the bench. The Heels have an talented incoming freshman in Kevin Reddick, but no one knows how much of an impact he will have. Besides, dudes with that kind of last name are taboo ’round these here parts.

Hey, it’s not my fault your name sounds like the 3rd most hated Dukie of all time.

That leaves us with Sturdivant. From now on, he will no longer be adressed by his pagan name. Now and forever more, Tar Heel Maniacs shall address him as QUANTAVIUS THE MAGNIFICENT, lord of the linebackers! Destroyer of worlds, avenger of running backs and defyer of lines of scrimmage AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Sorry, got carried away there. Anyway…Quantavius The Magnificent is the up and comer of this group, playing in all twelve games last season, starting in four of them. Quantavius the Magnificent racked up 47 tackles, including a sack, an interception, and one sweet blocked punt against Miami. The game against the HUrricanes was, in essence, his coming out party. He is almost certainly the future NFL player in this linebacking corps; expect him to make big noise in the ACC this season at weakside LB.

Outlook: Quantavius The Magnificent aside, this might be Carolina’s weakest position on the field. Paschal is the only player with a full season in the starting lineup, and to our best knowledge there is little in the way of depth on the bench. Of all the positions, this is probably where we can least afford a serious injury. However, the starting three and Bruce Carter are still good enough to hold their own this season. Provided that everyone stays healthy, of course.

(Photo: Orlando Sentinel)

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