Spring Position Preview - Defensive Line
March 27, 2009
After posting 73 sacks the past two seasons, the top two-year total in IU history, fresh faces will litter the interior of the Hoosier defensive line this spring. With the graduations of Keith and Kevin Burrus and Deonte Mack missing the spring due to hip surgery, a trio of redshirt freshmen and a pair of offensive linemen will receive the opportunity to play alongside All-Big Ten senior ends Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton.
On the heels of Middleton's All-American 2007 campaign, Kirlew made a name for himself nationally in 2008. The duo ranks as one of the top defensive end pairings in Indiana history. Middleton ranks fourth on the career sacks list with 20, while Kirlew is a half-sack out of the top five with 16.5 and shares fourth in IU lore with 37.0 career tackles for loss.
Kirlew was elected the team's Anthony Thompson Most Valuable Player following the season and was named one of only six finalists for the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award. The Orlando, Fla., native was also voted first team All-Big Ten by the conference media and second team by the league's coaches. He finished the season with 10.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss, both ranked fourth on Indiana's single-season list. Kirlew ended 2008 second in the Big Ten and tied for 14th nationally in sacks, and third in the league and sixth nationally in tackles for loss.
In 2007, Middleton was a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award in addition to being named first team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and media, Indiana's first All-Big Ten first team selection from the defensive line since Adewale Ogunleye in 1997. The Indianapolis product secured All-America distinction from the Walter Camp Football Foundation (second team), the Associated Press (third), Sporting News, CBSSports.com, SI.com (second), Rivals.com (second) and CollegeFootballNews.com (first). Middleton broke Van Waiters' school record (14 in 1987) with 16 sacks (102 yards lost), a total that led the nation, and finished fourth in Big Ten single-season history with his 16 sacks.
Junior Jarrod Smith and sophomore Milton Owens will switch over from the offensive line to the defensive line. Smith played 11 games with two starts at guard and center in 2008. He is no stranger to the defensive side of the ball, as he played tackle at Fairborn High School, where he recorded 53 tackles and two sacks.
Mack, who is expected to be ready to go when preseason camp opens, started nine games and played in 11 overall. He made 21 tackles with two sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss and one fumble recovery on the season.
Behind Kirlew and Middleton on the ends are junior Terrance Thomas, sophomores Eric Thomas and Fred Jones and redshirt freshman Kyle Kozak. Jones and Eric Thomas played in 12 and 11 games, respectively, last season, while Terrance Thomas moves from the interior to the outside.
Check back soon