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TU Football: Linebacker Preview

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TULSA, Oklahoma -

The Golden Hurricane football team was back on the practice field this week.

It was the first practice time on the new turf at Chapman Stadium.

"It was fun for the guys to be on the turf. I thought the turf really held up well. It managed well. They'll brush it again today and pack it down. The rain will probably be good to help settle the infill in the turf," said Tulsa Head Coach Philip Montgomery.

"I thought we had good competition today. There was some good give and take. We had some good plays offensively, we also had some good plays defensively. At this stage in fall camp that's kind of what you're looking for – you don't want one side to be dominating the other – and right now you want that competition, it means your team is growing in the way you want it to grow," said Montgomery. "I think we have to be more consistent. Now with our level of play, we have too many ups and downs. We have to more consistent across the board on both sides."

Tulsa is off on Tuesday for the annual downtown luncheon and team photo day. The Hurricane will be back on the practice field Wednesday morning.

A LOOK AT THE LINEBACKERS:

Tulsa's linebacker corps returns just one starter in tackles leader Craig Suits. The senior totaled 79 tackles and nine TFLs for -27 yards a year ago while entering the 2017 season with over 200 career tackles.

Sophomore Cooper Edmiston came out of the spring as the replacement for mainstay Trent Martinat the MIKE position. He saw valuable time a year ago while totaling 18 tackles, including a team-high nine stops filling in as a starter against Tulane.The starter at the STAR position is converted safety, McKinley Whitfield. He has been a playmaker during his first two seasons with the Hurricane. Whitfield totaled 59 tackles, 2.5 TFLs for -8 yards, four pass breakups, one interception, one fumble recovery and blocked two kicks last year.

Montgomery talked about his three starters at the linebacker position.

"They were good in the spring and has really grown more this fall. Coop has really stepped up with Craig's help. Some of the moves we made with McKinley and some of the other guys have been a big benefit for us," said Montgomery. "We've had to put more on Craig, but a lot of it came in the spring. His maturity and learning curve was big this spring and has really helped him this fall. Craig, Coop and McKinley are understanding how to work together and fit together. Those are the little things that make those linebackers so special. When they get that coordination between the three of them, I think they can be really dominant.

Two seniors, Petera Wilson Jr. and C.J. Gooden gives the Hurricane some experience at linebacker, while a number of young guys have progressed nicely through camp.

The depth at linebacker displays a lot of talent and athleticism for the Golden Hurricane

"I think we do have a lot of depth, athleticism, skill and speed in that next group, they're just young. They just need some time to grow up and mature. I think we've been able to recruit some really good players, and those guys just need a little more time to get seasoned," said Montgomery.

Sophomore Diamon Cannon and red-shirt freshman Treyvon Reeves have gotten a number of reps at linebacker as well and will enter into the mix at that position and special teams. Not to mention, Robert Revels III, who saw playing time a year ago as a true freshman and totaled 11 tackles as he played on special teams and saw limited time at linebacker, has had some bright moments during fall camp. Junior Tim Quickel, who missed last season, has returned this year.

True freshman Zaven Collins brings great athleticism to the position from Hominy (Okla.) High School, and it wouldn't be a surprise if he saw playing time in 2017. As a two-way prep starter, Collins compiled 91 tackles and three interceptions as a senior.         

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