Here come the tackling machines. The 2019 Rice Football linebacker rotation could be one of the Owls best units on the field.
A groundswell of optimism is emerging around South Main regarding the 2019 linebackers. Blaze Alldredge and Antonio Montero made their marks at the tail end of the 2018 season, taking over starting roles midway through the year. Firmly entrenched as the alphas at their position, this duo has had an incredible spring. Expectations are sky high.
Both Montero and Alldredge have the talent and the drive to cement themselves among the most productive linebackers in Conference USA this season. If they play to their potential, they’re well within the range of 100-tackle seasons, something which has happened at Rice just twice in the past 20 years.
Travis Bradshaw racked up a staggering 121 tackles in 2009. Cameron Nwosu notched 108 tackles in 2011. None of the dozens of other linebackers who took the field for the Owls over that time cracked the 100-tackle mark.
A season of that magnitude would put either of those two defenders in rarified air. The impact on the defense as a whole would be tremendous. That kind of production would vault them into consideration for individual recognition, too. Eight CUSA players reached the 100-tackle plateau in 2018. UTEP linebacker A.J. Hotchkins, FIU linebacker Sage Lewis and North Texas linebacker E.J. Eliya all finished with more than 120 takedowns.
Whether it’s 120 tackles of 70, it’s hard to envision a scenario right now in which both Montero and Alldredge don’t make the defense significantly better in 2019 than it was in 2018. They’re the kind of vocal leaders in the middle of the field who spark change and lead with effort and physicality. The Rice linebacker room is primed for a special season.
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