Competition creating depth for Louisville outside linebackers

Linebacker Nick Okeke says depth will help the unit avoid a fall off toward the end of the season
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Competition isn’t a bad thing because its creating depth for Louisville football’s outside linebacker unit.

The Cardinals have proven experience at the top of the depth chart.

Rodjay Burns, who transitioned from cornerback to the “Card” position last year, finished with 83 tackles and 11 tackles for a loss. Yasir Abdullah started eight games a year ago at the opposite outside linebacker spot, tallying 45 tackles and an interception.

Nick Okeke appeared in 12 games, making two starts, to finish with 24 tackles as a redshirt sophomore.

“It has definitely been a battle and competition,” Okeke said. “We just push each other. We tell each other to just keep going, ‘let’s make it a nice competition.’”

After appearing in all 13 games as a redshirt freshman last season, Thurman Geathers has emerged as a rangy 6-foot-3, 230-pound third-down pass rusher.

“He is really hard to block,” Okeke said. “His get off along with his pass rush moves, he has a deep bag of pass rush moves.”

With a 6-foot-3, 240-pound frame, Okeke spent the offseason improving his technique.

“I have gotten better in my short area quickness and striking and getting off blocks,” Okeke said.

Marvin Dallas, Kameron Wilson and Zay Peterson are newcomers to the defense that add depth and competition to the group of outside linebackers.

Outside linebackers coach Cort Dennison sees potential in the newcomers. He said Wilson, a four-star linebacker, has a great passing rushing ability while Dallas has plenty of athletic ability.

“Everybody has different skill sets, but I think they will put it to use within the defense,” Burns said.

The outside linebackers will benefit from an expanded rotation this year.

“It will help tremendously,” Okeke said. “We need people to come in and not have a fall off. I feel like having a lot of depth is key for us this year, especially at the end of the season.”