The Ohio State Buckeyes have already added one linebacker through the transfer portal in DeaMonte Trayanum from Arizona State, and with new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles changing up the defensive culture, it is not unrealistic for Ohio State to look for more second-level talent in the portal.
The Buckeyes are likely to run a 4-2-5 scheme and that should be a good thing considering how underwhelming the linebacker play has been in recent years, but those two backers will need to be aggressive and ready to move sideline to sideline. The list of talented linebackers in the portal is so large, I decided to split the list into two with this one focused on more outside backer types. The following are the five best outside backers available in the portal as of today.
Juliano Falaniko, USC
Oct 14, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans head coach Clay Helton celebrates with linebacker Juliano Falaniko (41) after an NCAA football game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated Utah 28-27. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The USC Trojans have seen a large number of guys leave the program and one of the most noticeable is former three-star linebacker, Juliano Falaniko. The pass-rushing outside backer has insane potential and can contribute with his hand in the dirt or standing up. He never even scratched the surface of his potential at USC, but a change of scenery should do him well.
— USC SPORTalk (@SPORTalkUSC) April 23, 2016
Devell Washington, West Virginia
West Virginia Mountaineers receiver Devell Washington, center, celebrates with his teammates after their 24-21 AutoZone Liberty Bowl win over the Army Black Knights in Memphis, Tenn. on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
Similar to Steele Chambers, Devell Washington was a former wide receiver who made the transition to linebacker in the spring due to West Virginia’s needs at the position. The Buckeyes are a tad late on this one as Washington recently announced his intentions to enroll at Northern Iowa, but he has potential to shine on the defensive side of the ball.
3🌟 WR Devell Washington commits to West Virginia pic.twitter.com/8R8sKp0RxO
— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) April 13, 2019
Gabe Reid, Stanford
Oct 30, 2021; Stanford, California, USA; Stanford Cardinal linebacker Gabe Reid (90) pressures Washington Huskies quarterback Dylan Morris (9) during the first quarter at Stanford Stadium. Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Gabe Reid can provide help as a pass rusher on the edge or as a traditional strong-side backer. He is a band-aide with only one year of eligibility remaining, but unlike others on this list, Reid has reached a level of consistency that can make him a quality contributor.
A Week 16 #CFB Top Performance
LB Gabe Reid – Stanford
• 7 Tackles
• 3 Tackles for Loss
• 2 Sacks pic.twitter.com/BT5owlM9hL
— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) December 20, 2020
Amir Siddiq, Central Michigan
— CMU Football (@CMU_Football) February 1, 2017
Amir Siddiq played defensive end for Central Michigan and is capable of lining up with his hand in the dirt or standing up as an outside backer as well. Siddiq was a key piece of the Central Michigan defensive line rotation and has two years of eligibility remaining. With a season that included 36 tackles and five sacks, Siddiq can play in the Big Ten.
Navonteque Strong, LSU
3⭐ LB Navonteque Strong decommits from Mississippi State pic.twitter.com/tjVqJ4yx5V
— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) December 15, 2020
LSU is also facing a bit of a mass exodus and Navonteque Strong is on that list. Strong is a former three-star sophomore linebacker who has the athletic traits to fill a defensive back role as well, especially in the expected 4-2-5 the Buckeyes plan to utilize. The highly-rated JUCO transfer was expected to start immediately in 2021 but was forced into an odd rotation at LSU.
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