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2019 Spring Practice Recap + Fall Preview: Linebackers

What can a deep but largely unproven talent rich linebacker group bring in 2019?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 31 Redbox Bowl - Michigan State v Oregon Photo by Daniel Gluskoter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

2019 Spring Depth Chart

Outside Linebacker

1. La’Mar Winston, Jr 6’2 223 Senior

2. Adrian Jackson 6’2 222 Sophomore

3. Andrew Johnson, Jr 6’2 222 RS Freshman

4. Dru Mathis 6’2 226 Junior (JUCO)

5. Matt Christman 6’2 252 Senior

6. Avery Burt 6’1 235 Freshman

Inside Linebacker

1. Troy Dye 6’4 222 Senior

2. Sampson Niu 6’1 212 Junior

3. Ge’Mon Eaford 6’1 232 Freshman (early enrollee)

4. A. Jackson

5. Nate Heaukulani 6’0 218 Junior

Inside Linebacker

1. Sampson Niu

2. Isaac Slade-Matautia 6’1 220 RS Sophomore

3. M.J. Cunningham 6’2 229 RS Freshman

4. Nick Wiebe 6’1 226 RS Freshman

5. Ben Gomes 5’11 202 Senior


1. D.J. Johnson 6’5 270 RS Sophomore

2. Bryson Young 6’5 244 Senior

3. Winston

4. Jackson

What happened during spring practices?

  • Keith Simms elected to transfer before the spring game due to playing time concerns. His destination is unknown at this time.
  • With the arrival of new DC Andy Avalos comes a new position of STUD, which in football parlance, is an EDGE who can rush the passer and drop back in coverage but is primarily used as a pass rusher.
  • After a competitive spring, ISM finally managed to wrestle away the starting inside linebacker spot next to Troy Dye. He beat out Sampson Niu for the position.
  • It was a virtual dead heat between DJ Johnson and Bryson Young for the Stud position during the spring. A battle to watch during fall camp. Winston can slide over as well.
  • Ge’Mon Eaford and Dru Mathis early enrolled, Mathis was a JUCO signee.
  • It appears that Anthony Booker and Avery Burt aren’t on the official roster after the spring for unknown reasons at this time.

Post Spring Depth Chart

Outside Linebacker

1. Winston

2. Jackson

3. Johnson, Jr

4. Mathis

5. Treven Ma’ae (redshirt)

6. Mase Funa (redshirt)

7. Christman

Inside Linebacker

1. Dye

2. Niu

3. Eaford

4. Jackson

5. Heakulani

Inside Linebacker

1. ISM

2. Niu

3. Cunningham

4. Wiebe

5. Gomes


1. D.J. Johnson

2. Young

3. Winston

4. Jackson

5. Isaac Townsend (redshirt)

6. Mase Funa (redshirt)

What could happen during fall camp and the 2019 season?

  • The two freshman linebackers Funa and Ma’ae redshirt due to the talent above them on the depth chart. Funa finds a long term home at Stud due to his purported size of 6’5 241 while Ma’ae stays at outside linebacker.
  • The starters are largely set barring unforeseen circumstances such as injury, academic issues, or off the field incidents.
  • Jackson might have a key role to play as the backup to both inside and outside.
  • Eaford’s status is up in the air in terms of redshirt or not but I’m sticking with not for now.
  • There was some speculation that Funa would go in his LDS mission right after signing but he chose to delay his mission commitment until after his freshman season. I think he sees some playing time before redshirting because of the rust factor being away from football.
  • There could be some interchangeability between the outside linebackers and Studs in certain packages. I would certainly try to maximize Dye and his NFL prospects by showing off some versatility.
  • The linebackers can’t get any worse than last season, right?
  • DJJ vs. Young could be an interesting camp battle to get starting reps. DJJ might get some hype as a bigger Dion Jordan. Young will get reps at both defensive end and Stud so he doesn’t lose out anyway.
  • The linebackers are a good mix of youth and veterans so I would like to see the younger ones get some playing time in case of existential factors making things interesting.
  • If I had to put money on it as a draft analyst, DJJ, Dye, and Winston will get some buzz in the scouting ranks if things pan out well for the Ducks. Dye and Winston are for sure gone after 2019 due to being seniors but DJJ could be tempted by an NFL constantly looking for pass rushers with his skillset and frame.
  • It will be interesting to see how Avalos deploys the linebackers in conjunction with the defensive line in certain packages.