Competition driving Louisville outside linebackers

Yasir Abdullah and Rodjay Burns return as starters for the outside linebackers
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Competition doesn’t stop for Louisville football’s outside linebackers.

It continues on the field, in the weight and meeting rooms, but the competition is intended to create progress.

“Every day we compete, but at the end of the day they are still my teammates,” junior Yasir Abdullah said. “We help each other on the field.”

The unit directed by outside linebackers coach Cort Dennison has proven experience at the top of its depth chart.

Rodjay Burns, who had 83 tackles and 11 tackles for a loss last season, is leader at the “Card” position after starting all 13 games a year ago.

Abdullah started in eight games last season and finished with 45 tackles and an interception.

Nick Okeke appeared in 12 games and made two starts last season, tallying 24 tackles and a sack during his redshirt sophomore year. Thurman Geathers played in all 13 games primarily on special teams as a redshirt freshman.

Dennison says the “dog position” has a lot of position flexibility and competition.

Dennison said Geathers continues to develop in Louisville’s base package as a pass rusher.

Kameron Wilson, Marvin Dallas, Zay Peterson join the outside linebackers are newcomers, who are adjusting to a new defense.

“When they first got here they didn’t really know the defense, it was like a whole new world for them, but day after day they kept getting better,” Abdullah said. “They keep progressing.”

Wilson, a four-star linebacker from Georgia, and Dallas, a transfer from Georgia Military College, participated in spring practices as mid-year enrollees.

Dennison said Wilson, a freshman, needs to develop in the weight room to become an impact player.

“There is a reason he was so highly recruited,” Dennison said. “He has a lot of twitch, he has a great pass rushing ability.”

Dallas, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound junior, was tabbed as the top junior college outside linebacker by 247Sports. Dennison said Dallas will contribute on defense and special teams.

“Marvin has a lot of athletic ability, he has really nice length,” Dennison said. “He can really run.”

Peterson adds depth to the position as a freshman from Florida.

“Zay Peterson is going to be a really good player for us,” Dennison said. “He has a really nice frame. He has great position flexibility. He can play in open space.”