The Knights lost three of their four starting linebackers from 2016.
However, building a new linebacker corps is a bit easier when the cornerstone is returning American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year Shaquem Griffin, who managed 92 tackles, 20 tackles for-loss and 11.5 sacks last season.
Gone is Mark Rucker, who led the team in tackles with 93 last season. Demeitre Brim, the unquestioned leader of last year’s defense, and his 82 stops also graduated. Errol Clarkeand his 12.5 TFLs and 6.5 sacks were also lost.
So, who fills the void?
Nate Evans also saw a fair amount of action as a true freshman last season at inside backer, taking part in 11 games.
“Pat Jasinski and Chequan Burkett split time with those guys last year,” Frost said. “They should be the lead dogs there. Nate Evans had a solid spring and definitely will play and help us at the middle backer spot.”
To bookend Griffin on the outside, junior Titus Davis and redshirt freshman Dedrion Bacoteboth had solid springs. Davis earned valuable experience in 2016, as well. He tallied 12 tackles in seven games.
“Dedrion Bacote and Titus Davis both had a great spring opposite Shaquem,” Frost said. “Then we’ve got six young linebackers coming in that we think are really talented and we’ll see which ones of those guys are ready to play.”