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By Craig Haley, FCS Exec. Director - Archive - Email
Ten FCS linebackers to watch
Matt Evans will try to become the second two-time winner of the Buck Buchanan Award.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - All-seeing and all-knowing.

That's the general trait seemingly shared by the best linebackers across the Football Championship Subdivision.

They use their innate skills to collect ball carriers in the way Jay Leno collects cars.

And they might even be faster than Jay's cars.

The group of standouts starts with 2011 Buck Buchanan Award recipient Matt Evans of New Hampshire and welcomes the aptly named Tyler Starr from South Dakota, who is transitioning to linebacker.

It's a balanced and impressive group.

Following are 10 FCS linebackers to watch this season:

Aaron Archie, Indiana State, Sr., 6-0, 235 - The Sycamores' leading tackler in both 2009 and 2011 has played a big part in the program's transformation from FCS laughingstock to FCS playoff contender. Last season, his 122 stops ranked second in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The outside linebacker's spectacular play took away some of the spotlight from teammate and defensive end Ben Obaseki, which isn't easy to do.

Clarence Bumpas, Northern Colorado, Jr., 6-2, 244 - Bumpas has made the most of a second chance after leaving Kansas State following his arrest on a drug charge. Despite the inside linebacker's big size, he gets to the ball with a running motor. He led the Big Sky Conference with 145 tackles as a sophomore. Expect another dominant season.

Wes Dothard, Chattanooga, Jr., 6-1, 235 - A breakout sophomore campaign in the middle of the Mocs defense led to Dothard making The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS All-America first team. Dothard has an all-around style of making plays. He was among the FCS leaders with five forced fumbles while also making 98 tackles.

Matt Evans, New Hampshire, Sr., 6-0, 219 - The Buchanan Award winner will try to become the second two-time winner after the original winner of the FCS defensive player of the year award, Appalachian State linebacker Dexter Coakley (1995-96). Evans was the nation's leader in tackles last regular season, including 24 against Lehigh, and finished the playoffs at No. 2 overall with 13.75 per game, including 92 of his 165 tackles being solos. The middle linebacker uses his speed and athleticism to get around blocks and to the ball.

Jeremy Kimbrough, Appalachian State, Sr., 5-11, 238 - The Mountaineers' new 3-4 alignment didn't slow Kimbrough, who gave up some of his roaming space inside but still led the team with 105 tackles, including 12 for loss. He's a hard-working run-stopper who flows well to the action. He's been compared to former ASU standout Jacque Roman, a tackle machine.

Jody Owens, Montana State, Jr., 6-0, 221 - An outside linebacker who studies his opponents well, Owens came on strong as a sophomore. A tad undersized, he uses his quickness and intelligence to get into the right spot for making plays. He corralled 105 tackles, including a Big Sky-best 17 for loss, a year ago. He's a leader for a top Bobcats 'D' this season.

Blake Peiffer, Southeast Missouri State, Sr., 6-1, 225 - Considering Peiffer grew up in the shadows of the SEMO campus, coach Tony Samuel did the right thing in keeping him home with the Redhawks. The outside linebacker set the school record with 151 tackles last season. His physical strength helps set him apart at linebacker.

Keith Pough, Howard, Sr., 6-3, 235 - Blessed with size, speed and range, Pough has been a one-man wrecking crew in the MEAC, leading the FCS with 28.5 tackles for loss as a sophomore before adding another 21 as a junior. He disrupts opponents in so many ways, including 11 quarterback hurries a year ago. The outside 'backer also led the MEAC with 10.9 tackles per game.

Alvin Scioneaux, Wofford, Sr., 6-2, 214 - Scioneaux doesn't mind getting help from his teammates, but he often gets into an opposing team's backfield for solo stops. While other teams put great focus on defending Wofford defensive end Ameet Pall last season, Scioneaux was happy to fly through the door from his outside linebacker post. He had 17 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks while forcing five fumbles.

Tyler Starr, South Dakota, Jr., 6-4 1/2, 236 - If it seems like Starr has the size of a defensive end, it's because he is making the switch from that position to outside linebacker. In his first season of action last year, he shook off some rust as a redshirt sophomore and raced around offensive lines for 14 sacks, all solos. This season, he will face tougher competition in the Missouri Valley Conference, but Starr will keep being a playmaker, albeit from a new position.

Top LB by FCS Conference
Big Sky: Jody Owens, Montana State; Big South: Andrae Jacobs, Coastal Carolina; CAA Football: Matt Evans, New Hampshire; Ivy: Andrew Starks, Princeton; MEAC: Keith Pough, Howard; Missouri Valley: Aaron Archie, Indiana State; NEC: Jon Morgan, Albany; OVC: Blake Pfeifer, Southeast Missouri State; Patriot: Robert McCabe, Georgetown; Pioneer: Jordan Ridley, Butler; SoCon: Jeremy Kimbrough, Appalachian State; Southland: Seth Allison, Central Arkansas; SWAC: Jer-ryan Harris, Arkansas-Pine Bluff