Editor's Note: This is the sixth in a series of articles previewing the 2013 football season at Missouri S&T. The daily stories will feature one position, or a set of positions, each weekday until the team reports August 11. Today's story features the Miner linebackers.
With two of the top returning performers at the position in the Great Lakes Valley Conference back for the 2013 season, Missouri S&T figures to be in good shape for the upcoming year at that spot.
Chris Horn (Tulsa, Okla./Booker T. Washington), a first-team All-GLVC selection last fall and Chris Emesih (Houston, Texas/Westfield), who earned honorable mention after leading S&T in tackles for the second straight season, heads a linebacker corps that is fast and versatile. Horn finished last season with 44 tackles and three interceptions, while Emesih made a team-high 68 tackles a year after posting 100 stops.
"They have been very, very impressive," said Miner head coach Tyler Fenwick. "Chris Horn (Tulsa, Okla./Booker T. Washington) is a linebacker who can cover, intercept the ball and is a very good tackler. He is a very smart football player. Chris Emesih (Houston, Texas/Westfield) is a great leadership guy who runs to the ball very well and his part in being in charge of our defense is very important to our team. Our players really look up to him."
The third linebacker spot, which was occupied last year by All-GLVC pick Jordan Pulou (Magna, Utah/Cyprus), is the one that is up for grabs heading into the year and there are plenty of candidates in contention for that spot.
The group of top returners includes senior Dalton GIllispie, juniors Jon Vance (Marshalltown, Iowa/Marshalltown), Nick Kruse (Cuba, Mo./Cuba HS) and Zach Melber (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville) and redshirt freshman Rob Cidlik (Eureka, Mo./Eureka). In addition, returners Jack Miller (Casa Grande, Ariz./Union), Mike Leibovitz (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way Central) and Taylor Heavirland (Whitefish, Mont./Glacier HS) will look to work their way into the rotation at linebacker during the upcoming year.
"There will definitely be some competition there," Fenwick said. "Cidlik is a player who's got the tools and is a strong, active player who flies around the field. Kruse is a crafty player who understands defense and knows how to get in the right spot on the field. Vance is another leadership guy and Melber had really good spring as well. When he gets on the field, he gets to the right spot and is a very good tackler."
S&T had a number of linebackers in its recruiting class as well in Harold Edwards, Jr., Nate Brown (Webb City, Mo./Webb City), Andrew Trautman (Elk Rapids, Mich./Elk Rapids), Blake Nivelt (Ortonville, Mich./Brandon) and Nathan Stephens (Anchorage, Alaska/A.J. Dimond), who will look to earn playing time during their first year at S&T as well as Kyle Bates (Kansas City, Mo./North Kansas City), Joe Collins (Adrian, Mo./Adrian) and Seth Kreher (Warrensburg, Mo./Warrensburg).