NASHVILLE --- Heading into Camp 2016, Tennessee State had to make a decision of who will play at the linebacker spots. A year ago, it was more of who will step into the positions, whereas this season is more so, which veteran is the man for the job, as all six returners have game experience.
The linebackers may prove to be the strength of the defense with the experience provided by Justin North, Antonio Justice and Chris Collins. North returns after sitting out 80 percent of the season due to injury, while Collins moved from the outside to the middle for North. The junior ended up leading the team with 79 tackles, 31 solos, 38 assists, and collected six tackles for loss, including a safety and an interception.
Demetro Stephens and Blair Edwards saw action as true freshman last season as they filled in due to injuries. Edwards finished seventh on the team with 33 tackles, as well as a sack, a forced fumble and a recovered fumble. Stephens registered two tackles-for-loss, including a sack.
The unit will add more depth to the position with redshirt-freshman Dante’ Ferguson, Jr. and first year players, Reggie Gunn, Ian Martin and Reed Crim.
What makes this group interesting is Antonio Justice, Jr. is only one senior on the squad.
|Antonio Justice, Jr.||6-1||225||R-Sr.||36||28|
|Demetro Stephens, Jr.||6-2||235||So.||7||9|
Sophomore Linebacker, Blair Edwards
- On the Linebacker Units Potential
“I feel we will be great at linebacker. We just have to work hard and I think we will be the best linebackers in the OVC. We just have to use our speed versus bigger opponents and beat them to spots.”
Redshirt-Freshman Linebacker, Dante’ Ferguson
- On his Role
“It is my job to get people lined up. I am the middle linebacker I am the quarterback of the defense.”
Freshman Linebacker, Reggie Gunn
- On Getting the Feel for the College Level
“I feel great getting reps with the second and third team. Camp is a different experience then high school. Things are a lot faster but the older guys are great really and are helping me out. They answer all the questions I have without hesitation.”
Freshman Linebacker, Ian Martin
- On Help From the Veterans
“The older guys keep pushing me even when I get tired. They are teaching us a lot at linebacker and they tell us what we are doing wrong; and help us correct our mistakes.”