2012 LBs: Senior Leadership

LaRoy Reynolds looks to have a big year leading the Virginia defense in 2012.

Previous UVA Football
Position Breakdowns
* Quarterbacks
* Running Backs
* Fullbacks
* Wide Receivers
* Tight Ends
* Offensive Line
* Defensive Line

This year's defense boasts just 3 seniors in the starting lineup. One is DT Will Hill, who we covered earlier. The other two are both LBs and are both three year starters. MLB Steve Greer and WLB LaRoy Reynolds are the two most accomplished players on the Wahoo defense this year, and they are going to be counted on the lead this defense both on the field and off it.

Reynolds, in particular, looks ready to bust out. He's had a strange career, beginning as a safety, then moving to Sam LB and finally to Will LB. The weak side is where he truly belongs, and he showed that last year, finishing with 88 tackles (50 of the solo variety) and 8 TFLs. Reynolds' quickness and experience as a safety make him capable of covering TEs and RBs as well as short zones, but he is also strong enough to take on OLs and play the run. In fact, he is a better run defender than pass defender.

Greer is a vastly different type of player to Reynolds. He has led the team in tackles in 2 of his 3 years, including his freshman season. (He was 2nd to Reynolds during their sophomore years.) Greer is a very heady player, making reads and then reacting to them. He moves well in traffic, which allows him to beat ballcarriers into a hole and make the tackle. In pass coverage, he can be a liability at times, but he has shown a knack for getting to the QB on blitzes. Greer is the QB of the defense, making play calls and defensive audibles based on his reads. He is also the best run defender we've got and will likely lead the team in tackles again.

Greer is, however, still recovering from a torn ACL. He seems to be 100% and ready to go, but sometimes with knee injuries, you just never know. With Greer out of action in the bowl game, Henry Coley started at Mike. However, this year Coley is starting on the outside opposite Reynolds. This seems to be a case of Coley being too good to keep off the field. There isn't a ton of depth at LB, and we can't afford to keep a player of Coley's abilities off the field. That said, he may still be a better fit at Mike. Coley is actually similar to Greer. They are about the same size, with similar builds and skillsets. Coley will be a better strong side defender against the run than against the pass. He is good at shedding blockers and making tackles, but he hasn't shown much in pass coverage or pass rush.

That pass rush will come from Coley's backup, DaQuan Romero. Romero played in 10 games last year as a true freshman and finished with 13 tackles including 1 TFL. Romero is a more natural pass rusher than Coley (or any of our other LBs to be honest), but isn't the all around player that Coley is. Romero may, in fact, see time as a pass rushing DE in certain situations. Romero changed his number from 30 to 13 for this season.

The backup at the Will position is sophomore D.J. Hill, who played a little bit on special teams as a true freshman last season. Hill has very good quickness and moves very well in space. He would provide a good look as a coverage LB, but would struggle to beat blocks and make plays in the run game. It goes without saying that the dropoff from Reynolds to Hill is a big one, but Hill can handle most aspects of the position.

Greer's backup at Mike is listed on the depth chart as Kwontie Moore or Tucker Windle. Moore, the true freshman, is obviously the more intriguing prospect. Moore was one of the top ILB prospects in the nation and comes in with a 6'2" 250 lb body that just screams LB. Moore moves very well for a guy that size and would be a load for a blocker to handle. Of course, Moore still needs some seasoning, so if Greer were to be out for a while, it is more likely that Windle will step in. (Actually, it is more likely that Coley moves into the middle and Romero moves up to start at Sam.) Windle is a senior who has seen plenty of time on the field on special teams, but precious little on defense. Windle is a bit like Greer, but without the experience. He isn't the fleetest of guys, but moves well in traffic and is a sure tackler. These skills have made him a solid special teams guy, but I fear he'll never make much impact on defense. Windle is also listed as the 3rd SLB.

After Reynolds and Greer there are a lot of question marks on this unit. I expect a huge season from Reynolds in particular , one that could propel him onto NFL draft boards. He is a natural leader who took some time to get comfortable on the field, largely because of position changes. Because of the presence of the two seniors, this unit will be leading the defense. The future is bright for guys like Kwontie Moore and Henry Coley, but right now they are simply too young and inexperienced to be counted on heavily.

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