Charlie’s College Football Rankings: Linebackers

Charlie’s College Football Rankings: Linebackers

by July 13, 2021 0 comments

Another week, and another set of college football positional rankings. The season is getting excitingly close to its beginning and college football is, once again, picking up traction in the media world. This week we have a great group of linebackers, including a handful of players who command more recognition on the national level.

Be sure to check out all of Charlie’s College Football Positional Rankings.

1. Mike Rose– Iowa State

This is the third time an Iowa State player has topped our list and the fourth that a Cyclone has been in the top-two. What Rose brings to the table as a player is that he’s a stellar athlete. However, he has an incredibly polished game to go on top of his athleticism and is the clear frontrunner for the Butkus Award. Last year, Rose had 96 tackles with five interceptions and 1.5 sacks. For a true linebacker, these stats are really incredible, and now he looks to transition into a leadership role on this Iowa State defense. He’ll set the rhythm for his unit in the entire upcoming season, and look to be a highly sought after pick come draft time.

2. Zakoby McClain– Auburn

The SEC leader in tackles last year, McClain is a big-time stat sheet stuffer for Auburn. He finished the year with a whopping 113 total tackles and amassed three sacks, as well. McClain had five games where he went for double digits in tackles, as well as a 17-tackle performance in a game versus Texas A&M. McClain still has a little bit to touch upon in his game, but if he can do so he won’t be far behind Rose in the running for the Butkus.

3. Nate Landman– Colorado

Landman is the classic hard-nosed, tough, middle-linebacker who is extremely talented and decorated coming into his fifth year. He’s a two-time first-team All-PAC 12, and deservingly so. The stat that jumps out the most when looking at Landman is tackles for loss. He was in the top-10 in the nation with nine, and he accomplished this in only five games. He followed this stat with 53 total tackles, again through just five games which is absurd. After coming back to school for what is believed to be his final year, Landman is one of the most underrated players in all of football and is a name we should all get to know quickly. 

4. Payton Wilson– NC State

108 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and two interceptions, Wilson can do it all and more. He’s easily the best linebacker in the ACC, in fact, he’s the only linebacker in the ACC on this list. Wilson has a really pure feel for the game and is constantly making plays, getting involved, and always in the pile for a loose ball. He’s the embodiment of what a linebacker should be and a player who needs more national recognition before his college career ends. 

5. Micah McFadden– Indiana

Another fiery and incredibly competitive linebacker, McFadden was one of the biggest leaders on a stellar Hoosier defense last year. He does not necessarily destroy the stat sheet like some other names on this list, but you can see the impact he makes on the field just by watching. Even if he doesn’t stuff the box score, McFadden still had 59 tackles in eight games. He also put up six sacks, which is an impressive number for where he lines up. Overall, McFadden should be the clear-cut best linebacker in the Big 10 but has a little work to do to crack into that top-three nationally. 

6. Grant Morgan– Arkansas

Back to the stat-sheet stuffers. When you look at Morgan’s numbers, you just can’t help yourself from saying, “Wow.” Last season, he put up 111 tackles across nine games. Even more impressive, Morgan had two games during the season with 19 tackles each. This kid is everywhere. The one downside is that he is a little bit small at 5’11”. In college football, whatever works, works. Morgan will still be able to produce on the same level this year as he did last. 

7. Jack Sanborn– Wisconsin

Sanborn is a super underrated player in the Big 10. Every time you turn on a Wisconsin game you can see him making a mark on the game. In only seven appearances last year, the Badgers’ top defender turned in 53 tackles and a very solid four tackles for loss. Sanborn now goes into his senior year looking to get more involved in the coverage game, whilst continuing to put in these great numbers. If he can do so, Wisconsin’s defense will see a tremendous boost, especially from a guy that players will certainly look to as their leader. 

8. Carson Wells– Colorado

At this rate, Colorado is the front-runner for the best linebacker duo in the nation between Wells and Landman. Like Landman, Wells is the classic linebacker who commands blockers to attract towards him. With Landman, we mentioned the tackles for loss stat, and with Wells, we have to do the same. He led the nation in tackles for loss per game with a whopping 2.7. This is .7 more than any other player in the country, which is a huge outlier when you really look at the graph. Once Wells continues to put up these numbers throughout a long stretch of games, he’ll be considered an elite linebacker in college football going into his senior campaign. 

9. Bumper Pool– Arkansas

Well, we just had one duo in this top 10, and now we have another. Pool and Morgan aren’t as good as Wells and Landman, but they certainly are a great tandem on this Razorback defense. Besides having a phenomenal name, Pool is a fantastic football player. He put up a total of 101 tackles last season and added a nice 6.5 tackles for loss to his ledger. Pool really got noticed in week two of the season, when he had 20 tackles against Missouri. This just goes to show this player’s willingness to tackle, and his love to get involved in plays. Now, Pool will be an absolute headache for offensive coordinators in his senior season. 

10. Jake Hansen– Illinois

Believe it or not, Hansen is back for his sixth year on the Illinois campus. After redshirting his first year, Hansen has consistently put together some really nice seasons for the Fighting Illini. In only eight games last year, he had 68 tackles with 10 for loss and a pretty encouraging 2.5 sacks to add on. Hansen isn’t really close to Dana Howard’s insane 595 career tackles at Illinois, but currently sitting at 242, he has had a really impressive career for a modern-day linebacker. While he may go a little overlooked this year because of how bad his team is, we’ll certainly keep an eye out for Hansen come draft time.

Honorable Mentions

Olakunle Fatukasi (Rutgers), Devin Lloyd (Utah), Christopher Allen (Alabama), Edefuan Ulofoshio (Washington), James Skalski (Clemson)


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