Bulldogs Linebackers Hope to Shine in Saturday Scrimmage


Posted Aug 15, 2003 17:00:09
Bulldogs Linebackers Hope to Shine in Saturday Scrimmage

RUSTON - When asked what he hoped to accomplish in Saturday morning's scrimmage, Louisiana Tech head coach Jack Bicknell had a quick answer.

"No. 1, I hope to get out of it healthy," Bicknell said. "That's my main concern. We just want to get a taste of (real game situations). We mainly want to get a good taste of live football again for our starters, and then the younger guys we really want to see what they can do in a game situation."

The Bulldogs will conduct their only scrimmage of the fall at Joe Aillet Stadium starting at approximately 8:45 a.m. Saturday. Bicknell said he plans on the starters going only about 30 plays and then using both the second and third teamers for 40 plays each.

After losing all three starting linebackers to graduation, most coaches would be concerned about the position but not Bicknell. He said he is very high on his local linebacking flavor consisting of Ruston's Jeremy Hamilton at weakside linebacker, Mangham's John Nash at middle and Cotton Valley's Antonio Crow at strongside.

"It almost doesn't seem like we lost all three starting linebackers because these three guys have played a lot," Bicknell said. "I have a lot of confidence in them. All three of them seem like veterans, and I think they all could have really good years."

Both Crow and Hamilton contributed at times last year with Hamilton collecting 41 tackles and Crow 38. Nash missed almost the entire season after suffering an injury in fall camp but looks to have returned to the form of two years ago.

"Antonio has had some good years," Bicknell said. "On defense we like to play a lot of people because of the heat and we want to stay fresh. He has done some good things. I think he was frustrated with last year and is ready to have a great year this year. I'm looking forward to seeing how he does."
Many people consider Hamilton, who is developing a reputation as a fierce tackler, undersized for linebacker but Bicknell said he isn't worried about the former all-stater physically.

"Jeremy's size doesn't concern me," Bicknell said. "He is a very strong player and very compact. He has the strength; it would concern me if he was a frail guy, but he is so put together that I'm not worried."

T.J. Jackson, a junior college transfer, is penciled in as the backup middle linebacker while senior Jonte Price and Byron Santiago are No. 2 on the depth chart at outside linebacker.

"T.J. is going to be a very good player," Bicknell said. "It is tough to come in as a junior college guy; he's been here a week and a half basically. It's very difficult for him to pick everything up. You can see flashes of great play. He is the type of player that will get better and better."

Santiago saw action mostly on special teams in 2002 recording six tackles.

"Byron is a fantastic player," Bicknell said. "He's going through that natural progression that young players encounter. Your first year you're not really sure what you are doing, your second year you get better and then by their third year you have really figured things out. We're trying to push him along so he will be effective this year."