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On3 stamps Iowa Hawkeyes with one of top LB units in America

The Iowa Hawkeyes are returning eight starters on defense in 2024. This is a huge boost to a unit that could have seen half of them make the jump to the NFL, but chose to run things back for the Hawkeyes.

One major part of their defense that is returning is the linebacker unit. Jay Higgins and Nick Jackson were some of the top linebackers in the country in 2023 and will be manning the middle of the field once again.

The two combined for 271 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss, six sacks, eight pass breakups, and 11 QB hurries. The duo returning to Iowa has them among On3’s top linebacker units in America. Iowa is listed as the No. 2 linebacker group in America ahead of 2024.

2. Iowa

The Hawkeyes return two of the most productive linebackers in the country from 2023, plus every notable backup in the unit off last year’s Top 10 defense.

Jay Higgins and all of his 171 tackles is back for one last ride with the Hawkeyes. The fifth-year senior tied a school record for stops in 2023, and ended the season as the most valuable linebacker in the country, per PFF. Also back is Nick Jackson, as the former Virgina transfer was granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA. Jackson had 110 tackles and 4.0 sacks last season.

The Hawkeyes return key swing-man Kyler Fisher, who can play inside or outside and provides real pass rushing ability (3.5 sacks), as well as several other upperclassmen who are green on experience but have been in Phil Parker’s system for several years. – Jesse Simonton, On3

Kyler Fisher is truly the key name here. He only tallied 26 total tackles last year, but he did register 3.5 tackles for loss and a sack. He has versatility just as Higgins and Jackson do.

Fisher also has experience in Phil Parker’s defense. He will be entering his fifth year and provides great knowledge on a defense oozing with talent.

While there may be question marks on the offensive side of the ball, one area that Iowa is rock solid is their defense. They have some of the best linebackers in the country and should be able to lean on this group on defense.

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Story originally appeared on Hawkeyes Wire