The Hurricanes started spring football with nine linebackers on scholarship. It lost Eddie Johnson, who was the team's most productive linebacker at times last season, during the offseason. He is now enrolled at Hinds Community College.
The competition at middle linebacker was intense throughout the spring. Senior Jimmy Gaines has more experience than sophomore Raphael Kirby but probably isn't quite as talented. Both played turners in solid springs, and will take the competition into the summer. The good thing about both players is they have experience playing both in the middle and on the outside.
Denzel Perryman, the team's most productive linebacker in 2012, is listed as the starter on the weak side. He turned in a solid spring, but was constantly called out by his coaches to take his game to another level. They know what type of ability he possesses and sometimes he got a little inconsistent during the spring. The Hurricanes need a strong junior season from him, and he's certainly capable of delivering one. Senior Tyrone Cornileus is listed as his backup.
The starter on the strong side is true freshman Alex Figueroa. At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Figueroa was very lightly recruited out of high school. He didn't even play football last season while recovering from an injury. That didn't prevent him from showing up in top notch shape, and learning the defensive system really quickly. He has the size, athleticism, and intelligence that college coaches look for in incoming linebackers. He turned in a good enough spring to hold off the competition from sophomore Tyriq McCord, a converted defensive end who will likely line up as an edge rusher if and when the Canes utilize a 3-4 alignment at times.
Sophomore Thurston Armbrister and redshirt freshman Jawand Blue are not listed on the depth chart, and seem to be playing catchup right now. Armbrister played a lot last season, and even started some, but that was likely due to the rash of injuries the Hurricanes had at linebacker. Blue is still trying to get on the field for the first time as a Hurricane.
Sophomore Gabe Terry, who saw the field at times last season and even blocked a punt against Virginia Tech, was recently suspended due to an off-the-field incident. His future with the team remains up in the air.