WDAY: The News Leader

Published April 21, 2010, 01:17 PM

Bison expect big improvements from the linebacker position

Fargo, ND (WDAY Sports) - You hear references all the time about "cutting out the middle man." On a football team, the linebackers would constitute the "middle men" and for the Bison, the linebackers should be among the most improved units on the team in 2010.

Inexperience and injuries played a large part in NDSU's less than stellar linebacker play last season. Upperclassmen Tyler Henry and Matt Anderson missed most of the season with injuries. So true freshman Brandon Jemison was pressed into action and sophomore Preston Evans was forced to play middle, not his natural position, and asked to be the leader of the defense.

Preston Evans: “The last couple years, we haven't had that emotional leader. We were chickens with our head cut off. I feel like I needed to step in and do that.”

While Evans and Jemison were the top two tacklers on the Bison, their performance wasn't up to their own standards, much less anyone else's. For Jemison, it was a baptism by fire.

Scott Hazelton: “There's a thing about having your red shirt pulled. You can play, but you don't really know what you're doing!”

Brandson Jemison: “Everything has slowed down now. I can finally see what's going on and make sense of plays and where I fit.”

Helping matters this year is the addition of two junior college transfers-Dillon Forbes and Chad Wilson. Wilson will add needed depth to the linebacker position, while Forbes is tabbed as the starting middle, or Mike.

Forbes: “Personally, I like Mike. They've been looking at me there, but I feel comfortable anywhere.”

Forbes’ presence allows Jemison and Evans to play the outside and do what they do best, chase down the ball.

Evans: “It's a complicated defense and they picked it up well. It's exciting for this fall, to see what's going to happen.”

Coming back from a neck injury, senior linebacker Matt Anderson has been held out of contact drills this spring. He could also factor in come fall.”