2009 USC Preview: Linebackers - Replacing Legends

Brian WagnerCorrespondent IJune 16, 2009

LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 4:  Chris Galippo of the USC Trojans pursues the play against the Oregon Ducks on October 4, 2008 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California.  USC won 44-10.  (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)

Football is almost here! We are less than two months removed from the beginning of fall camp for college football.

In the mean time, I am missing USC Football.

So, for the next few weeks, I am going to begin my USC Football preview for 2009, position by position.

Check back daily to see updates for new positions.

In 2008, the USC Football team was loaded at the linebacker position. Brian Cushing, Rey Maualuga, Clay Matthews, Jr., and Kaluka Maiava were all drafted in the first four rounds of this year’s NFL Draft.

Of those four players, two were drafted in the first round.

Another was named the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year.

The three linebackers that will replace these guys have a whopping total of zero starts in collegiate football.

I think it’s safe to say it may be a challenge for the linebacker corps to follow up with what has been such a deep position for the past six years or so.

But wait until you see the guys who are projected to step in and replace them.

The first is outside linebacker, Michael Morgan. Morgan is the backbone of what has been called one of the fastest groups of linebackers in USC’s prestigious history. Running a 4.3 40-yard dash in spring workouts shows he has speed at its finest. He has the perfect speed to combat Javhid Best sprinting down the sideline.

Another linebacker, who is replacing Maualuga, Chris Galippo is quickly evolving into the leader of this year’s crew. Playing the backer position, Galippo has a lot of size and speed to play the position very well. He considers himself a good “sideline-to-sideline player” who always continues the play until the whistle.

The third linebacker is Malcolm Smith, who is becoming the scariest and most feared of the linebackers. When looking at it, Smith seems to bring a little from both Morgan and Galippo. He has the strength and power to make devastating tackles, but also brings a ton of speed to the table, contributing to the aforementioned speed of the Trojan linebackers.

While the new crew may not be as explosive as last year’s squad, these USC linebackers will remain one of the top classes in college football for another year.

Although a young class, with no collegiate starts, each of these three players have had substantial playing time, coming in on back-up and mop-up duty situations all last season, as well as being major contributors on special teams.

They are ready to embrace the new challenge that lies before them.

I think it’s safe to say it may be a challenge for the linebacker corps to replace legends.

However, I also think it’s safe to say the projected starting linebackers have what it takes to become one of the best corps in the nations.

Reserve Linebackers: Luther Brown, Jordan Campbell, Ross Cumming, Dan Deckas, Nick Garratt, Uona, Kaveinga,

Recruits: Marquis Simmons, Frankie Telfort