John Helsley Published: July 27, 2008
Big 12 Insider John Helsley ranks the league's linebacker units 1-12:

•1. Kansas. All three starters are back at the hub of KU's stout defense.

•2. Missouri. Sean Weatherspoon had 130 tackles and Brock Christopher is a third-year starter.

•3. Texas. Rashad Bobino returns, but everyone's excited about Sergio Kindle and Rod Muckelroy.

•4. Kansas State. Already a strength in the Wildcats' 3-4 scheme, the unit has been bolstered by juco standouts and Virginia transfer Olu Hall.

•5. Oklahoma. Curtis Lofton and his 157 tackles will be missed; there's talent, yet much has to come together.

•6. Texas Tech. Solid group, with two starters back and youngsters pushing for playing time.

•7. Colorado. Must replace stud Jordan Dizon, but two starters return and more talent is coming on.

•8. Oklahoma State. A successful shift of Andre Sexton from safety is critical to a unit with many unknowns.

•9. Baylor. Maybe the team's greatest strength, with Joe Pawelek twice a second-team All-Big 12 and depth, too.

•10. Texas A&M. Von Miller's move from defensive end plays into an emphasis on pumping speed into the position.

•11. Nebraska. Lost the top four backers, leaving Jenks' Phillip Dillard heading the rebuilding effort.

•12. Iowa State. The Cyclones' best, Jesse Smith, is a former walk-on and there's little experience around him.

Jenks native and Nebraska linebacker Phillip Dillard, center, will be the centerpiece of a rebuilding Husker linebacker corps this season. aSSOCIATED PRESS

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