December 9, 2008

2010 Spotlight: Linebackers

With all three starting linebackers heading to the NFL, the Trojans are preparing for a new era at the linebacker position.

While several underclassmen look to carry the torch into next year, the linebacker position is priority No. 1 over the next several months of recruiting, heading into National Signing Day for the Class of 2009.

But truth be told, the future at linebacker may be the most uncertain of any personnel group for the Trojans. From the often-injured backs of Chris Galippo and Luthur Brown, to the potential two-year mission of Uona Kaveinga, to what the incoming class of linebackers looks like, USC currently has more questions than answers at the linebacker position. And with dwindling depth, the prospects of restocking the position for the future won't be confined to one class alone. Thus, bringing in at least two linebackers for the Class of 2010 looks probable.

Currently, the only written scholarship offer for the position has gone to Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd linebacker Chris Martin. At 6-foot-5, 228 pounds, Martin is widely considered the best player in Northern California regardless of class, and one of the top five juniors in the state.

Martinez's Evaluation: Martin is an impressive player to watch on film, and an even more impressive player to talk to in person. Some players have the talent to play college football, but need college football to unleash their talent. Martin plays at 100-percent regardless of the level of competition playing in front of him.

At the same time, he understands the benefits of competition and remains humble in achieving his goals. That is important to note in Martin's evaluation. A player with his level of talent can sometimes bring baggage to a football program. Martin would be classified as a low maintenance, high value target capable of becoming the face of a program.

The debate with Martin is position. Every bit of 6-foot-5, he could grow into a weakside end or work to become agile enough to play strongside linebacker. The latter depends upon knee bend and flexibility. Martin is an excellent flow-and-go type linebacker - playing MIKE for Bishop O'Dowd. He doesn't take a lot of blocks head-on, which will change when he moves outside for college. Martin excels when he's able to attack the line of scrimmage at an angle.

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