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May 12, 2009

Tech linebackers are young, but showed their talent this spring

By: Jimmy Robertson


Mike linebackers

52 Barquell Rivers (6-0, 230, r-Soph.)

51 Bruce Taylor (6-2, 251, r-Fr.)

94 Mark Muncey (5-11, 227, r-Sr.)


46 Jake Johnson (6-1, 229, Soph.)

38 Quillie Odom (6-1, 225, Soph.)

39 Lyndell Gibson (5-10, 236, r-Fr.)

16 Tim Richardson (5-10, 245, r-Jr.)

Defensive coordinator Bud Foster also doubles as the linebackers coach and he may very well have the youngest group on the squad. The backer and mike linebacker spots consist of just one senior – walk-on Mark Muncey – and no juniors.

Coming out of spring practice, Barquell Rivers solidified his hold on the mike linebacker spot. Rivers, a redshirt sophomore, started the Orange Bowl game and played well, and that carried over to spring practice.

“He had a good spring,” Foster said. “I trust him. I think he could play a little faster, but he knows his assignments. I think he’s going to be solid for us.”

The No. 2 guy at mike linebacker is Bruce Taylor, who came to Tech as a linebacker, but was moved to defensive end before being moved back to linebacker in the offseason. Taylor got a lot of reps against Tech’s No. 1 offense in the scrimmages and caught the attention of the staff because he made a lot of plays.

“He showed some promise,” Foster said. “I like how he made some plays in space. He’s got tremendous upside. He needs to get stronger, but he knows what we’re trying to do. He’s a quick learner.”

Muncey is the third mike linebacker and will help on special teams next fall.

Bruce Taylor played well this spring and will provide depth next fall.
At backer, Jake Johnson came out of spring as the top guy. As expected, the sophomore got better and better and won Foster’s trust.

“He shows a lot of potential and he was one of the most improved guys on defense,” Foster said. “I had to slow him down a little, and by that, I mean I want him to go full speed with a purpose. I’m trying to get him to understand angles and where his help is. His most improvement came in coverage. You can show Jake something once and he corrects it. He’s just a coachable young man.”

Foster, though, is a bit concerned about the backup situation behind Johnson. Quillie Odom and Lyndell Gibson have yet to win his trust. Gibson missed a lot of spring practice while getting an off-field matter squared away.

“Quillie needs to learn the position and be more consistent in every phase,” Foster said. “Lyndell showed some flashes, but he wasn’t out there much.

“Those two are fighting to be a backup. They’ve both got a lot of improving to do, and the summer is important for them.”
The summer actually is important for every member of these two spots.

“We need to make up a year’s time in a few months,” Foster said. “Is that realistic? I don’t know. We’re going to try.”