Revamped linebacker core set to grow under new coach

Revamped linebacker core set to grow under new coach

Revamped linebacker core set to grow under new coach
April 18
13:15 2019

After linebackers E.J. Ejiya and Brandon Garner finished their last year of eligibility with the Mean Green football team, the linebacking core looked different during spring practices. Former linebackers coach Jeff Koonz accepted an offer to coach linebackers at Ole Miss — Galen Scott was hired to fill his role from Old Dominion. So far, he said he likes what he sees. 

“They’re good, smart guys, they work their behinds off,” Scott said. “They just continue to work with me to get better daily. We just continue to get better, continue to improve and staying humble and hungry.”

Scott was a three-time FCS All-American linebacker for Illinois State and graduated as the university’s all-time leading tackler (579 tackles). After graduating, he spent eight seasons coaching for his Alma Mater, coaching five consecutive players to Missouri Valley Defensive Player of the Year awards.

“Being able to add someone at the caliber of Scott at this stage of the offseason is key for us,” Littrell said in a press conference. “He has great experience throughout his career and his leadership will be important in the development of a young linebacking corps. We are excited to get him to Denton ahead of spring practice and bring him into our family.”

Scott moved to Tulsa after accepting a job as the outside linebackers and defensive backs coach. After two seasons with the Hurricanes, he was hired onto Memphis, where he coached for six seasons as their linebackers’ coach before being promoted to the Tigers’ defensive coordinator. During Scott’s tenure with Memphis, he helped lead them to three bowl games including an AAC Championship victory in 2014.

Scott served as co-defensive coordinator for Virginia Tech for two years until April 2018, when he resigned following the discovery of an extramarital affair he was having. 

“I made a mistake and I have to take responsibility for that,” Scott said to the Roanoke Times. “I did some things that I want to apologize to my wife for and my family for and I need to make sure I make that right by just being around for them and being the best father and person I can be.”With Scott at the defensive helm, the Hokies made two bowl games and defeated Arkansas in the 2016 Belk Bowl.

After originally accepting a job offer from Old Dominion in January, the Mean Green reached out to Scott and convinced him to switch, officially signing onto the team on March 14. Defensive coordinator Troy Reffett worked with Scott during his tenure at Memphis and was consulted by Scott upon the receiving of the job offer, according to Scott.

Scott said he has seen improvement from his linebackers but still expects more out of them. He said he has accepted that no one on the roster will replace the impact that Garner and Ejiya had on the team, but the roles will be filled eventually.

“My whole deal is to be the best you can be and work hard individually so that you can improve incrementally,” Scott said. “You’re not going to replace [Garner and Ejiya]. It’s just going to work and being the best that you could possibly be and let them fall where they fall.

For redshirt senior linebacker William LeMasters, this will be his final season playing collegiate football after a four-year career with North Texas. LeMasters feels that despite the turnover, this isn’t a new core. Rather, it is just players who haven’t had the opportunity to step up, according to LeMasters.

“All of us have been here for multiple years and guys that moved to this position this year have been on the team,” LeMasters said. “As far as chemistry goes there’s no learning curve or new steps needed to be made in the room, but things have been good so far and the spring has gone well for us.”

Last season, LeMasters finished the year with nine tackles and 0.5 tackles for a loss along with one pass break up. He made his first career start on Nov. 15 in the win against Florida Atlantic. Despite the coaching change from Koonz to Scott, LeMasters said there is nothing new about practice. Scott will be LeMasters’ fifth positional coach at North Texas.

“Yeah, it’s nothing new to me,” LeMasters said. “There are some guys in the room that it’s been a little bit of an adjustment for them but for me, it’s a part of the industry. With new guys coming in and old guys leaving that just means we’re doing well, and the nation knows that we’re onto something.”

Sophomore linebacker KD Davis said that Scott’s expressed love and passion for his job is something that doesn’t go unnoticed by the players.

“Oh, he’s hard, he doesn’t play games, he’s serious about his job and he loves his job,” Davis said. “Every time he comes out he shows it, even in the meeting room – he’s going to coach you to his best because he expects a lot out of us and he wants us to be the best group on the field.”

Featured Image: Mean Green sophomore linebacker KD Davis goes up against an offensive lineman during a pass rushing drill on April 1, 2019 at Apogee Stadium. Image by: Trevon McWilliams.

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Matthew Suarez

Matthew Suarez

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