Linebacker: (n) a rare breed of a man whose sole purpose is to inflict the upmost pain upon a ball carrier. In the mind of a linebacker, there exists no such thing as tackling an offensive player, only destroying him.
What do you do when a 230 pound man is thundering at you full speed? You pray. These men, these machines, are built like tanks, running over anything in their paths. They smell fear and live for the big hit.
Take the 6-foot, 225-pound Junior Kelechi Ordu, for example. “I don’t stop till he’s down and out,” said Ordu. “The hit is the good part, but what’s even better is the reaction,” he added.
To these brutes, seeing a player take a few extra seconds to stand up after taking a blow is like pouring gasoline on a fire. Sophomore linebacker Howard Griffin said, “I’m way more hyped after a big hit. It gets your adrenaline rushing a lot more.”
Is adrenaline really the best term to use? Perhaps madness or rage seems more fitting. “That’s why I play;” Griffin said, “Just to explode through somebody and let my anger out.”
But how does one measure the fierceness of these beasts? Is it by the scars left on their helmets? Or the scars left on their opponents?
Sophomore Dwight Evans said his goal is to “Hit them as hard as I can”. Hit hard: one simple idea, the sole commandment that these beasts live by every play. “I’ll hit them anywhere, everywhere. Legs, chest, helmet, I don’t care,” he added.
Whose sick, demented plan was it for these men to grow up to become the most feared players on turf? Perhaps these animals were bred for this. Linebackers have been said to be ‘so strong they can pitch horseshoes while they’re still on the horse’.
Freshman Matt Moran summed it up by saying, “When you know you have the chance to lay somebody out, there’s no feeling like it. As it builds up and right before you hit, you want to give it everything you can with your body to knock this guy down.” When asked about the mindset of a linebacker, he said, “There’s not a whole lot going through your mind. You just want to take them out and hit them as hard as you can.”
Maybe their stats should not be measured in tackles, but rather in the number of weeks it takes their victims to recover. Griffin smiled and said, “That’s why I play.” “That gives me a thrill right there, just killing somebody,” he said, joking. Or was he joking?