If you missed yesterdays preview on the defensive tackles, click here. Coming tomorrow, the cornerbacks.
DEPTH CHART (bold indicates returning starter)
1.) Tank Carder (6-2, 232 Jr)
Easily the most fascinating player on the Horned Frog roster, linebacker Tank Carder's life-story would make one heck of a movie, only the ending hasn't been written yet. Raised in Sweeny, Texas, Ricky Carder Jr. was such an enormous baby that he was dubbed "Tank" by his parents, Ricky and Marti. At the age of 2 Tank Carder began riding BMX, and to call him a phenom would be an understatement, a BMX world champion at the age of 9 Carder had the potential to be one of the best ever, but the BMX life proved to be too much for a kid from a small-town in Texas and he quit shortly after.
In the seventh grade Carder suffered a horrific injury during a car accident in which a rod broke in the vehicle he was riding in, causing it to flip three times. He was flung from the car and into a tree, breaking his back in two places, and puncturing his lungs and diaphragm, the doctors did not know if he would ever be able to walk again. But due to great perseverance Carder did walk again, and when he entered high school he had a desire to play football. However the doctors wouldn't clear him to play so he found a loop hole, he could be a kicker on the team if his parents signed a waiver and agreed that Carder would be required to run towards the sideline after every kick to ensure he avoided contact. He became the teams starting kicker and punter as a freshman but it was clear he yearned for more when in his sophomore year he picked up a fumbled extra-point snap and ran it in for a touchdown, much to the dismay of his coaches.
His junior year he was finally cleared for contact and he quickly became a star that was able to play anywhere on the field including linebacker, quarterback, running back, and tight end. Carder was given only 2-stars by Rivals and had a few colleges show mild interest in him, but no offers came until two weeks before signing day when TCU Head Coach Gary Patterson decided to take a chance on him. "It was just one of those things where I watched his highlight film and really liked him," Patterson said.
It would appear that Patterson unearthed a true "diamond in the rough" with Tank Carder, as a sophomore he was starting at linebacker and was named second-team All-MWC after ranking second on the team in tackles (89 with 10 for loss of yards). Much is expected of Carder in his junior year, the MWC's 2010 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year has been named to various All-American teams and was dubbed "The Best Linebacker in Texas" by Dave Campbell's Texas Football. In addition to his great play on the field, Carder is a team-leader that gives the TCU defense an identifiable personality, what with his gaudy arm-bands, x-games mentality, and surfing bulldog (yes, a surfing bulldog, just click the link). Carder injured his shoulder in the spring but by all accounts will be 100 percent for the season-opener against the Oregon State Beavers. As the sole returning starter at linebacker in 2010, Tank Carder is going to be a key-cog in what hopes to be a dominant defense this season.
(Read about the rest of the TCU linebackers after the jump)
2.) Kenny Cain (6-1, 210 So)
A high school running back from River Ridge, Louisiana, Kenny Cain has been tabbed by many people "in-the-know" to be TCU's next breakout-star at linebacker, so look for him to play a significant role in 2010 even if he doesn't start. Cain also had offers to Arkansas, Tulane, and Northern Illinois.
3.) Greg Burks (6-1, 222 So)
Burks played primarily on special teams in 2009 and recorded both of TCU's blocked punts. From Houston, TX, Burks also had an offer from Nebraska in 2008.
4.) Marcus Mallet (6-1, 216 Fr)
Ranked in the Rivals Texas Top 100 in 2010, Mallet is regarded as a guy who really "brings the lumber." Mallet also had offers to Arkansas, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, Colorado, Baylor, and Houston.
1.) Tanner Brock (6-3, 233 So)
As a true freshman Brock played primarily on special teams in 2009 where he immediately made a name for himself with his selfless balls-out style of play. He is best known for making a bone-rattling helmet-less block that helped spring Jeremy Kerley loose for a 71-yard touchdown against SMU, knocking himself out in the process. Tanners older brother, Logan Brock, is a junior tight end for the Frogs. Tanner Brock was heavily recruited out of high school in 2009, and had offers to Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Wake Forest, Purdue, Missouri, Arizona State, Air Force, Kansas, and Kansas State. Brock has big shoes to fill this season, stepping in for 2009 leading tackler Daryl Washington, and although there is a steep learning curve to playing linebacker in this defense, expect Brock to pick it up early on.
2.) Kris Gardner (6-1, 235 Jr)
Gardner is a special teams standout who added depth at linebacker and recorded 19 tackles in 2009. Gardner is the nephew of TCU linebackers coach Tony Tademy.
3.) Blake Roberts (6-4, 225 Fr)
Roberts was another outstanding get in the 2010 class and had offers to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Purdue, Kansas, and North Carolina. Many have speculated that Roberts could be moved to defensive end, but as of now he is still working with the linebackers, and the move appears to hinge on if he gets any bigger.
One of the biggest keys to running the 4-2-5 is having athletically diverse talent at linebacker (read: speed) to be able to drop into pass coverage against the spread but still have the majority of run-responsibility split between the two linebackers. TCU will definitely miss the departed Daryl Washington, but Brock appears more than capable of filling his shoes in 2010 and Carder looks ready to take his game to the next level.