Louisville inside linebackers adding depth after starters

Dorian Etheridge and C.J. Avery return as multi-year starters at inside linebacker position
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Bryan Brown admits that inside linebacker depth is a concern for Louisville football, but the defensive coordinator can turn to players beyond Dorian Etheridge and C.J. Avery.

Monty Montgomery and KJ Cloyd wait behind the senior linebackers that combined for 163 tackles last season.

Etheridge and Avery started all 13 games at the inside linebacker spots last season and return as reliable pieces of the defense.

“The first two are golden, those guys are great and smart kids,” Brown said. “They will do everything you ask them to do.”

After Etheridge and Avery, Louisville isn’t shy of talent as it develops younger players.

Montgomery, a redshirt junior, had 27 tackles and five tackles for a loss last season.

Brown has different packages to get Montgomery on the field this season to allow the Georgia native to become a bigger part of the rotation.

“We got to get Monty on the field at times because he's a playmaker,” Brown said. “Sometimes he may be out of a gap where he will make a play.”

Montgomery is more than just a third-down linebacker that pursues the quarterback according to Brown.

“He can rush the passer, he can drop, he can cover a tight end and he can cover a back,” Brown said. “He can spy a quarterback.”

With the arrival of KJ Cloyd, a junior-college transfer from Jones College in Mississippi, the Cardinals add more depth to its inside linebackers.

After arriving to practices last week, Brown opted to have Cloyd participate and learn along the way. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound linebacker showed his talent as he begins to be taught technique and Louisville’s scheme.

“He is a thumper,” Brown said. “He will hit you, he can run. He is a problem for those linemen.”

Robert Hicks, a junior from Miami, appeared in all 13 games last season.

“Robert Hicks is playing well right now and continuing to grow as an insider backer,” Brown said.

Allen Smith and Dorian Jones, both redshirt freshmen, received reps in Louisville’s scrimmage last Saturday. Brown wants Louisville’s young inside linebackers to develop to add depth to the unit.

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