Irish linebackers look to Crum for leadership

As the Irish near its first game of the season against Georgia Tech on September 1st, the team continues to learn more and more about its new 3-4 defense.

At linebacker, Maurice Crum will lead the way. The senior had a team-best 100 tackles last season. He provides a ton of insight for the linebackers surrounding him, many of whom will be seeing extended playing time for the first time in their careers.

"We're getting closer together and there is comfort level there," Crum explains.

"We know where each other will be and we know each other's voices," Crum continued. "We're all real comfortable with each other."

One of the players making an adjustment this season is sophomore John Ryan. In 2006, Ryan played sparringly on the defensive line. In the new 3-4 defense, he is being positioned as a starter at outside linebacker, next to Crum.

"Mo is a great leader," Ryan says. "He definitely helps me out a lot."

"He keeps everyone's energy up," the sophomore continues. "Our attitude is reflective of his leadership. Guys like him and Joe (Brockington) are instrumental in the leaderships of the linebackers."

Senior Joe Brockington and sophomore Toryan Smith are battling for the other inside linebacker position next to Crum.

Meanwhile, senior Anthony Vernaglia is the leading contender for the 2nd outside linebacker position.

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