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Jack Follman’s 2023 Preseason Top Pac-12 Linebackers

It's not a great year for LBs, but there are still some really good players at the position

Posted on June 27, 2023

  By Jack Follman, SuperWest Sports

It’s not a great year for returning linebackers in the Pac-12. No other way to say it.

The way new college football offenses spread out the position and more and more defenses are using five DBs, it’s also getting less and less important.

There are still some really good players at the position in the conference, though, going into 2023.

1. Darius Muasau, Senior, UCLA
Bruin LB Darius Muasau | UCLA Athletics
Muasau may have been the best linebacker in the conference last season and he now has one more run. It shouldn’t be a debate this year.

2. Karene Reid, Junior, Utah
Utah LB Karene Reid | Scott Stevens/247Sports
If someone can challenge Muasau for the top spot, it’s Reid. He’s everything you want in a linebacker and Utah has an excellent track record of developing the best.

3. Mason Cobb, Senior, USC
Trojan LB Mason Cobb | Brian Bahr/Getty Images
The All-Big 12 veteran is ready to be All-Pac-12. Cobb should immediately make USC’s defense better.

4. Shane Lee, Senior, USC
USC LB Shane Lee | Ashley Landis/AP
A veteran who is already on USC’s squad, Lee racks up tackles and big plays. He’s a defensive leader for the Trojans.

5. Levani Damuni, Senior, Utah
Utah LB Levani Damuni | Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Damuni has been a standout at Stanford for years now and closes out his career at Utah, where he should be one of the best in the conference.

6. Jackson Sirmon, Senior, Cal
Cal LB Jackson Sirmon | Cal Athletics
Sirmon has been in college for a long time and he has a ton of tackles. One of the best veterans at any position in the Pac-12 and a big-time piece coming back on Cal’s defense for one more year.

7. Eric Gentry, Junior, USC
Trojan LB Eric Genry | Los Angeles Times
A crazy good long athlete who had more than 70 tackles, two sacks and an interception last year. Genry has major first-team All-Pac-12 potential.

8. Jestin Jacobs, Junior, Oregon
Oregon LB Jestin Jacobs | Charlie Neibergall/AP
The Iowa transfer brings a lot to the table if he can come back healthy. Jacobs was great in 2021 and should bolster Oregon’s defense immediately.

9. Jeffrey Bassa, Junior, Oregon
Oregon LB Jeffrey Bassa | Oregon Athletics

Bassa has quietly been a great defender for the Ducks these past two years as a versatile hybrid athlete. More than 60 tackles last year and two sacks with two interceptions.

10. Lander Barton, Sophomore, Utah
Utah LB Lander Barton| Rick Bowmer/Herald Journal
There’s a chance Barton could be the best linebacker in the Conference by the end of the season. Yes, his potential is that high coming off a freshman season where he had 46 tackles and 4.5 sacks.

11. Jacob Manu, Sophomore, Arizona
Arizona LB Jacob Manu | Arizona Athletics
One of the best freshman defenders in the conference last year. Manu had a lot of tackles and should progress and help Arizona’s defense improve in 2023.

12. Edefuan Ulofoshio, Senior, Washington
Washington LB Edefuan Ulofoshio | Joe Robbins/Icon
Ulofoshio was becoming one of the Conference’s best linebackers before injuries took him down for two years. He could be huge for the Huskies if he truly gets healthy and right.

—More from Jack Follman—