OSU, OU using hybrid linebackers to combat pass-happy offenses

BY BRANDON CHATMON, Staff Writer, bchatmon@opubco.com Modified: February 26, 2011 at 7:12 pm •  Published: February 26, 2011

Very few have the talents to man the position.

To excel as a hybrid linebacker/safety in college football's new era of pass-happy attacks, a player must have a combination of toughness, athleticism and intelligence.

The emergence of the spread offense has forced defenses to adapt. The answer for defenses has been taking high school safeties and turning them into hybrid linebacker-types who rely on their versatility to be playmakers.

No position on defense requires more versatility or more specialized recruiting than the hybrid linebacker spot. Teams have been looking for ways to get faster on defense for years USC and Texas were among the first to use undersized but speedy linebackers but the hybrid position requires more than just speed.

It requires versatility and smarts.

On first down, they could be asked to hold their own in coverage against a running back or slot receiver; On second down, they could be asked to shed a pulling lineman and support against the run; Then, on third down, be asked to blitz the quarterback.

A player with the athletic ability to handle all three requirements and the football I.Q. to read and react to whatever the offense runs brings a wealth of possibilities for a defense. And a wealth of unpredictability against an offense.

It's a position that asks a lot of those who play it but also allows those players to be main playmakers in their defensive system.

"It's an attractive position," Oklahoma State linebacker coach Glenn Spencer said. "As a high school player (you see) you get to blitz, you get to play the run a little bit, you play the pass.

"He's got to be the most versatile player on the field for the defense."

Both in-state schools have had success converting high school safeties into linebackers.

Andre Sexton was the trailblazer at the position at OSU while Keenan Clayton was one of the first to make the switch at Oklahoma. Heading into the 2011 season, both schools have multiple players who fit the description.

Trending Now


  1. 1
    Tulsa police believe mother, teen son planned deaths together
  2. 2
    Kevin Durant asks for your basketball videos in Summer is Serious 2
  3. 3
    Big 12 basketball: Time, TV listing announced for Sooners' December game against Washington
  4. 4
    Lawsuit: 'Duck Dynasty' stole 'camo' idea
  5. 5
    Here's What Gaza Explosions Look Like From Space
+ show more