Height/Weight: 6’2″/225 lbs.
The most experienced linebacker on Auburn’s roster, the Mobile, Alabama native has missed only one of the 37 games he’s been on the Tigers’ roster for. The rising senior plays well in space, excelling in pass coverage and open field tackling.
Williams made 67 tackles (including 36 solo tackles), 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, and two pass deflections in 2016.
Class: RS So.
Height/Weight: 6’1″/237 lbs.
After redshirting his freshman year in 2015, McBryde became primarily a special teams contributor last season. He recorded two tackles on the season while showing his hard-hitting ability in kickoff coverage.
He has impressed his coaches during spring and fall practices, and is expected to see time as a reserve middle linebacker and outside linebacker.
Class: RS Jr.
Height/Weight: 5’11″/246 lbs.
Davis was a pleasant surprise for a resurgent defense last year, starting in all 13 games for the Tigers. After recording only 5 tackles as a redshirt freshman in 2015, Davis became an anchor and emotional leader of a top-ten defense.
A stellar run-stopper, Davis racked up 63 tackles (including 34 solo tackles) and seven tackles for loss.
Height/Weight: 6’0″/239 lbs.
A four-star recruit out of Oxford, Alabama, Britt provides exactly the young depth Auburn needs at linebacker. His development into a starter over the next year or two should be fun to watch, and he’s expected to make an immediate impact, even as a true freshman.
As a senior in high school, Britt tallied 124 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, five sacks, and an interception.
Height/Weight: 6’2″/244 lbs.
Williams hit the field as a true freshman in 2015, and hasn’t looked back. He’s seen time as an outside linebacker during his Auburn career, playing in 22 games over the last two seasons.
A well-rounded defender, Williams can play pass coverage, but also deliver a hard hit in the open field. Last season, he made 52 tackles (including 33 solo tackles) and 3 tackles for loss.
Height/Weight: 6’1″/244 lbs.
A versatile defender who can play at or behind the line, Threat is unique in his ability to provide depth at multiple positions. While he’s the size of a linebacker, he possesses the skills of an edge rusher.
He played mostly in kick and punt coverage in 2016, totaling three tackles and one tackle for loss.
Height/Weight: 6’1″/218 lbs.
A converted safety, Atkinson made the move to linebacker last season, and immediately contributed heavily. He’s seen action in 23 career games since 2015, and he excels at attacking the line of scrimmage as a blitzing linebacker.
Last year, he made 30 tackles (including 22 solo tackles) and 4.5 tackles for loss.
Projected Depth Chart
SLB — 1. Deshaun Davis 2. Montavious Atkinson 3. Richard McBryde
MLB — 1. Tre’ Williams 2. Richard McBryde 3. K.J. Britt
WLB — 1. Darrell Williams 2. Tre’ Threat
Bringing back all three starting linebackers from last year’s team is imperative for Auburn’s defensive success in 2016. Tre’ Williams, Deshaun Davis, and Darrell Williams combined for 182 tackles, 103 solo tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles. They each finished as top six tacklers on the team.
These three have their respective positions locked down, and at least two of them — Deshaun Davis and Darrell Williams — could be back for another year in 2018.
Auburn's Deshaun Davis was very solid in run defense a year ago. pic.twitter.com/eiXoUXhW8i— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) August 18, 2017
And for the first time in over a decade, the Auburn Tigers will have quality depth at the linebacker position.
To make matters even better, the Auburn coaches have expressed their trust in starting Montavious Atkinson. As he continues to improve, he’ll likely steal some snaps from Deshaun Davis on the outside.
Having four starters for three linebacker spots isn’t a bad position to be in, especially after thin depth has hurt the Tigers late in past seasons.
Backing up the starters are K.J. Britt and Richard McBryde, two young players who can hopefully see enough of the field in 2017 to cement their roles as starters in future seasons. Each is a talented linebacker who can deliver a hard hit or two — they’ll likely see time as kick coverage defenders when they’re not in backup duty.
Tre’ Threat is the wild card of this group, as he was with the defensive line. Since he can play in both areas of the field, it’ll be hard to predict exactly where he’ll see most of his playing time. Being to line him up on the defensive line, at linebacker, and in kick coverage is a unique commodity.
This unit should be the strongest Auburn has seen in a long time, with four starter-quality players available and plenty of talented depth to back them up.