Hawks excited over competition from linebackers

Preseason All-American linebacker Trey Hayes returns for his fourth season as a starter. A two-time All-Region selection, Hayes is the Hawks' fifth all-time leading tackler and had 75 tackles last season.
Preseason All-American linebacker Trey Hayes returns for his fourth season as a starter. A two-time All-Region selection, Hayes is the Hawks' fifth all-time leading tackler and had 75 tackles last season.

Head Coach Mike Turk on Day 7 of preseason camp: "We worked on some different things today with alignments, experimented with some things and tried to work a few things out. The defense is starting to open its playbook a little more and our offense is starting to see everything we have, stunts, blitzes, different alignments, etc., as we try to get ready for what it's going to be like in a real game situation.

"We're trying to be patient with the offensive guys as we see some of this stuff for the first time from the defense. We want to get it on film and be able to teach and learn from it and try to improve."

               

Position Spotlight – Linebackers

Projected Starters:  Trey Hayes (Sr.), Jalen Newton (Jr.), Cameron Compton (Sr.) or Mal Caldwell (So.)

                              

A Closer Look: The linebacker unit is anchored by preseason All-American Trey Hayes. Entering his fourth season as a starter, Hayes is a two-time All-Region selection, is the Hawks' fifth all-time leading tackler (222) and holds the program record for career fumble recoveries with seven.

As a junior, Hayes was second on the team with 75 tackles and five tackles for loss and also had two sacks, an interception and two fumble recoveries.

Hayes, who plays middle linebacker, will be joined in the starting lineup by two new starters this season. Junior Jalen Newton is the frontrunner at the "Nickel" linebacker and senior Cameron Compton and sophomore Mal Caldwell are battling for the starting position at the "Dog" linebacker.

In addition to the competition for starting roles, several players are pushing for playing time with their performances in the preseason. Junior Casey Kropp, senior Stephen Strickland and freshmen Jackson Dilworth and Stephen Hunter are in the mix behind Hayes at middle linebacker. Freshmen Evan Clark and Karl Dorn have drawn praise at the "Nickel" position as has sophomore Drew Schlemmer at the "Dog" linebacker. Austin Dorberth also returns for his senior season.

 

Others to Watch: Stephen Strickland (Sr.), Austin Dorberth (Sr.), Casey Kropp (Jr.), Drew Schlemmer (So.), Evan Clark (Fr.), Karl Dorn (Fr.), Jackson Dilworth (Fr.), Stephen Hunter (Fr.)

 

Turk on Hayes: "Trey is just solid. He is a guy we count on. He calls the defense, gets us lined up and always seems to be in the right place. He makes a lot of plays and has been doing that since his freshman season."

Turk on the starting unit: "We like what we are seeing out of this group. We have Trey in the middle and Jalen Newton is playing well at what we call the "Nickel" linebacker. At our other linebacker, the "Dog", Cameron Compton and Mal Caldwell are battling for the starting position. Jalen and Cameron have both been around the program and are playing well. Mal has been a pleasant surprise. He is a guy we didn't know much about when he got here, but he has gotten our attention."

Turk on the depth at linebacker: "We're starting to develop some good depth at linebacker. We have a couple of young guys at Nickel (Evan Clark and Karl Dorn) who look like they will be able to help us. Both of them seem to be catching on to what we're doing and are playing fast.

"We're still trying to find some help at "Mike" behind Trey. We have a couple of guys who have been around here (Kropp and Strickland) and a couple of new guys (Jackson Dilworth and Stephen Hunter) that seem to be picking things up. At "Dog", Cameron and Mal are battling for the starting spot and Schlemmer is doing some good things as well."

 

Next Practice: The Hawks will practice at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. Practices are open to the public.