The West - Linebackers
Phillip Dillard
Phillip Dillard
Scout.com
Posted Jan 12, 2005


The linebacking corp brings everything one would want to the mix.

Phillip Dillard has been particularly stellar over the last two days, showing that even a big linebacker can keep up with receivers if he has to. In today's practice, a simple "post" was ran, but the play was called dead and Dillard was already 20 yards down the field, one-on-one with a wideout.

That kind of instinct to see the play along with the speed to actually make a difference and all that combined with his impressively thick 6 foot, 2 inch 245 pound frame, that's a combination that is going to hard to beat.

Ryan Reynolds knows a little about being hard to beat, the middle linebacker totaling 12 sacks on the year. The combination of his size and speed have made him imposing and at times, impossible when you try to figure out how to stop him, something Barnes said of any of his linebackers just wasn't easy to do. "All these guys can do stuff that linebackers couldn't do 10 or 20 years ago," Barnes said. "Ryan is able to cover well, move in space and he's athletic enough to go side to side."

I doubt that any or at least, many would have had their middle linebackers in pass coverage some 20 years ago, but like Reynolds, Jenks high school's Phillip Dillard can do that and more. "I think the entire staff is just real high on him," Barnes said of Dillard. "He's got the ability to cover guys a lot farther down the field than you might normally see from someone his size. He's just a very solid player."

Solid, but when it comes to the all-around everything there is plus the kitchen sink to boot, even the normally very even-keeled Barnes said that one surprised, perhaps even amazed. "Rey (Maualuga) was just more than what I expected." Barnes said. "I don't mean that in a bad way as I knew he was going to be something, but I just have to say that I was surprised."

"He's got everything, he's fast, he's physical - he's probably even better than you could hope. I think he's going to have a bright future in football."

Travis Beckum who finishes off the linebacker group for the West side follows the same theme, Barnes saying even that Travis could be the most athletically gifted of the group, the 6 foot, 5 inch defensive end playing what you would think to be out of his element. "He can play it," Barnes said. "You look at him and he's got a great future, but he's good enough, you don't know what position he's going to play."

"Travis has a big future someone and he's going to be a great player."


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LB Phillip Dillard (profile)
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