Sports in Kansas 25 Linebackers to Watch for 2021 season (list is not ranked or in any order) ⬇️
Gavin Meyers, Hays, Sr. , Jaren Kanak, Hays, Sr. Dalton Dale, Hays, Sr.
Meyers may be a once in a 20-year type linebacker for a high school program. He is one of the best multiple sport athletes in the state as well starring in both javelin and wrestling. He has multiple FBS offers at the linebacker position. This may be the best linebacking group in the state. Meyers will be the staple once again and is an absolute hammer at the position but Kanak, who can play everywhere LB/OLB/FS/SS/DB, is expected to star on both sides of the ball and Dale is a playmaking ball hawk. Expect a big year for the Hays team led by HC Tony Crough.
Jake Welsh, Miege, Sr.
Welsh is back to lead a Miege unit that will be one of the top teams in 4A. He earned SIK All-Non senior honors last season as a junior.
Ty Weber, Wasbhurn Rural, Jr.
Weber is one of the states top junior defenders after earning non-senior honors from Sports in Kansas as a sophomore. He has great size at 6’3” and 245-pounds. Expect a huge year for him in 6A.
Caden Crawford, Lansing, Sr.
Crawford, who figures to likely play defensive line at Iowa next season, is one of the states best two-way players. He will be one of the best linebackers in Kansas after earning non-senior honors in each of the last two seasons. He has great size at 6’5” and 245 pounds.
Aidan Morgan, BV Southwest, Sr.
Morgan was an all-non senior pick last season from Sports in Kansas as a junior. He will look to be one of the best linebackers in Kansas City this season. Expect a big year for him in 5A.
Ted Skalsky, Olpe, Sr.
Skalsky led the Olpe Eagles to a 1A state title last season, the second under HC Chris Schmidt. He was the 1A Sports in Kansas Defensive Player of the Year last season. Expect him to be one of the top small school linebackers in Kansas this season.
Hayden Essex, Blue Valley, Sr.
Essex was first team All-Blue Valley last season as a junior for the Tigers. Expect him to be one of the best in 6A this season for a loaded BV team that returns a lot of key pieces. Essex was also second team All-Non senior in all-classes last season from Sports in Kansas.
Jake McClure, Gardner Edgerton, Sr.
McClure was the lone junior linebacker on the first team All-Sunflower League team last season. He was also a non-senior pick form Sports in Kansas. Although he may be a bit smaller than some linebackers at 5’10” 180-pounds, we expect him to be one of the best in 6A this season.
Darius Diaz, Wichita Northwest, Sr.
Diaz is back for Wichita Northwest after helping them to a third straight runner-up finish in 5A last season. Diaz earned SIK Non-Senior honors in 2020. Northwest loses a lot up front on the defensive line but do return Nate Carter on defensive line and Diaz at linebacker.
Matthew Rodriguez, SE Saline, Sr.
Rodriguez earned first team all-league honors last season as a junior. Expect him to be one of the better 2A linebackers in the state this season after registering 95 tackles in 2020.
Derek Larison, Riverton, Sr. , Brecken Troike, Girard, Sr., Trent Smith, Columbus, Sr., Justice Compton – Frontenac Sr,
CNC league is loaded at the spot for 2021. Larison is pound for pound one of the most explosive players in 2A. Troike is looking to be one of the best 3A linebackers in the state after a breakout junior season. Smith is back for Columbus after leading them in tackles as they return a loaded group of talent. Compton is back after a first team all league season for the Raiders and he took second in 4A wrestling last winter as an individual. Talented group that goes much deeper than this list.
Chandler Goodnight, Andover, Sr.
Goodnight is expected to be one of the best in 5A this season after being an all-state and all-league selection in 2020. He had over 100 tackles as a junior last fall.
Cody Hawks, Goddard Eisenhower, Sr.
Hawks has been a staple of the Eisenhower defense and was a first team all-league pick last season. Expect him to be one of the best in 5A this season. He had 90 stops last season.
Drew Charbonneau, Collegiate, Sr.
Charbonneau will look to be one of the top linebackers in 3A this season. He earned first team All-AVCTL IV last season after a breakout year in one of the states better mid-sized leagues that features the likes of Andale.
Jaden Hamm, Eudora, Jr., Silas Etter, Eudora, Sr.
Hamm earned all-league honorable mention at the linebacker position last season and could easily be a hybrid DL/LB. Although recruited as a defensive end and tight end Hamm lined up at outside linebacker last season and defensive end. He’s a player that can play standing up or with his hand in the ground. He blew up last summer after the promotion of him on Sports in Kansas with his first offer to Kansas State followed by offers from every major conference in the country. Expect him to be one of the best two-way players in 4A for HC Sean Hayden. Hamm is 6’6” and 230 pounds. Etter also blew up last season and is more of an athlete that can play just about every spot you line him up at. He is a prospect at ATH/OLB/S/and WR. Expect Etter, a Kansas State commit, to play a huge role for Eudora on both sides once again in 2021. Jaiden Bender, a wide receiver, also has FBS offers for Eudora entering his junior season with 6’4” 190-pound size.
Thadd Menold, Sabetha, Sr.
Menold was the lone junior on the All-Big 7 team at the linebacker spot last season. Sabetha always has it rolling under Garrett Michael. Expect a solid season in 3A for Menold. He will have to step up and be the leader of a defense that graduated Drew Schmelzle to KSU.
Aidan Ingram, Basehor Linwood, Sr.
Ingram, along with Caden Crawford of Lansing, was the only junior on the All-UKC first team as a linebacker last season. Basehor Linwood returns several key pieces on both sides of the ball that make them look like a team to circle in 5A for 2021. Ingram had 95 stops last season.
Sequoia Robinson, Manhattan, Sr.
Robinson was a first team All-Centennial League pick last season as a junior for the Indians. He will look to be the leader of a defense that graduated KSU signee Damian Ilalio. Expect him to be one of the best linebackers in 6A.
Sam Elliott, Buhler, Sr.
Elliott is one of the top athletes in the state doubling as a two-time state wrestling champion and two-time all-state running back. He also earned all-state at linebacker last season and pound for pound one of the strongest players in the state.
Joel Bellows, Garden City, Sr.
Bellows was a first team all-league selection in the WAC last year for HC Brian Hill, He returns with Terrell Elliott (DL) and Caleb Wiese (DB) to form what should be a solid defensive unit in 2021. WAC has quite a bit of talent back for 2021. Bellows had 99 stops last season for GC.
Conner Neill, Maize South, Jr.
Neill tests off the charts as far as an athlete with sub 4.6 time in the 40, 41” vertical, 10’8” broad jump and a 300-pound bench entering his junior year. He also has a clean of 315 and features a 4.0 GPA. We expect him to be one of the top juniors in Wichita this season.
Jacob Stinnett, Fort Scott, Sr., Ty Leedy, Chanute, Jr.
Stinnett was last seasons SEK League offensive player of the year as a junior. He was also a 4A state wrestling champion as was Leedy. Both may be undersized but they are absolutely two of the toughest pound-for-pound on this list. Both first team All-SEK last season.
Mason Gottschalk, Ellis, Sr., Bryce Seib, TMP, Sr. Jake Sasse, Smith Center, Jr., Ben Hansen, Plainville, Jr., Christian Koch, Oakley, Sr., Jonathan Temaat, Oakley, Sr., Sean Anderson, Norton, Jr.
MCL always brings it at the linebacker position and this year they are absolutely loaded at the position for small schools in Kasnas. Gottschalk, who doubles as a running back, had a big junior season in which he had 87 tackles in 2020 in the MCL. Seib had a big junior year for the much improved Monarch squad as he registered 94 tackles. Sasse is another running back/full back that doubles as a standout linebacker starting since his freshman year for SC. Expect him to be one of the best in 1A. Sasse had 79 tackles last season as a sophomore. Hansen will look to lead a Plainville defense in 1A after registering 83 tackles last season. Koch and Temaat helped Oakley to their first ever state football championship game as the Plainsmen took state runner-up in 1A. They were both first team all-league selection in the loaded MCL. Anderson has great size at 6’4” 210-pounds and was second team all-league last season for the Bluejays of Norton.
Zak Zeller, Riley County, Sr.
Zeller earned all-state honorable mention last year for the Falcons and is expected to be one of the best linebackers in the MEL this season. He had 104 stops as a junior last fall.
Ty Farrington, Blue Valley North, Sr.
Farrington was an all-state honorable mention pick in 6A last season as well as All-Blue Valley at linebacker in 2020. He has a 4.4 GPA and took third in the state in 6A at 195 in wrestling. Expect a big year.
John Gadwood, Miles Wash and Cole Minton are expected to step in big at the linebacker position this season for the Panthers who are looking to 4-peat in 6A. You know Derby will have all-state linebacker play its just a matter of who steps up this season. These three certainly fit that mold.
Peyton Smith, Marysville, Jr.
Smith has great size at 6’3” 230 pounds with a sub 4.7 HH 40 time. He may be one of the more unknown players on this list but expect a huge year for him in the NCKL. He was an all-state punter last season from Sports in Kansas.
Andrew O’Doherty, Pittsburg, Sr.
O’Doherty is one of the fastest linebackers in the state with being a state qualifier in the 200 meters in track and field. He will look to lead an improved Pittsburg team this season on the defensive side of the football. Look for him to be one of the top linebackers in 5A this season.
Mill Valley LBs
Play is always solid at the linebacker position for MV who’s 5A dynasty will look to add another state title in 2021 under Joel Applebee. Applebee expects Payton Douglass & Broc Worcester to step in nicely this season
Braxton Lafferty, Little River, Jr. , Scott Price, Bucklin, Sr., Isaac Mendez, Wheatland-Grinnell, Sr., Logan McCarty, Cheylin, Soph.
8-Man and 6-Man always have talent. Lafferty earned first team all-state honors for state champion Little River in 8M-I as a sophomore last fall. Mendez will be one of the top two way players in the 8M-II ranks for W-G and had over 100 tackles last season. Price was one of the leaders in tackling last season in 8-man with nearly 120 tackles. McCarty had nearly 70 stops as a freshman in the 6-man game for state champion Cheylin. A lot of talent graduated from the 8M/6M ranks but expect these to be a few names worth looking at for 2021.
Others Top Linebackers to Watch from Sports in Kansas:
Shyheem Parker – Wichita East, Jerome Ragin – Wichita West, Sequoia Robinson – Manhattan, Diaolo Watson – Wichita South, Wyatt Bahm – Ark City, Ashton Barkdull – Andover Central, Aidan Ingram – Basehor Linwood, Tanner Tustian – Buhler, Dawson Lapping – Frontenac, Justice Compton – Frontenac, Drew Charbonneau – Collegiate, Trey King – Caney Valley, Colton McCammon – Prairie View, Reed Adelhart – Garden Plain, Seth Anderson – Norton, Corey Catron – Rossville, Brody Littrell – Osage City, Keaton Lopp – Haven, Tristan Rathbone – Hillsboro, Blake Stallbaumer – Nemaha Central, Trey Sommer – Humboldt, Derek Hoelting – Olpe, Christian Koch – Oakley, Kyler Konrade – Inman, Karsten McKee – Pleasanton, Jonathan Temaat – Oakley, Adam Blanchett – A&A, Jesus Casas – Pratt, Derek Johnson – Hoxie, Brayden Norris – Meade, Drew Stutesman – Madison, Chance Winter – Medicine Lodge, Geruin Boor – Sylvan Lucas, Nathan IMel – Bucklin, Kyle Reese – Lebo, Ryan Renner – Minneola, Aiden Hoover – McPherson, Jalen Rice – El Dorado, Holt Williams – Augusta, Hunter Alvord – McPherson, Dalin Coffey – Buhler, Sam Augustin – Collegiate, Logan Spexarth – Andale, Ian Comer – Mulvane, Colby Schreiner – Kingman, Alec Pfaff – Chaparral, Logan Warren – Conway Springs, Haven Lysell-Stewart – Smoky Valley, Logan Erway – Larned, Dylan Gantz – Stafford, Drew Kaufman – BVNW, Joe Samyn – BVNW, Drew Ranallo – BVNW, Carson Rockey – BVNW, Jake Laurie – BVSW, Bobby Troujilli – Emporia, Michael Boganowski – Junction City, Keghan McConnell – Junction City, Connor Conklin – Washburn Rural, Colby Johnson – Holcomb, Cooper Henson – Holcomb, Adam Mendoza – Hugoton, Memo Flores – SW Heights, Damian Foster -Waverly, Garrett Siemsen -Republic Co., Braden Burks – Beloit, Tate Milton – Chapman, Dalton Bice – Thunder Ridge, Max Neeley – Dighton, Max Kuhlmann – Burlington, Dylan Schnoor – West Franklin, Andon Searles – Labette Co., Ryan Renner – Minneola, Blake Boyd – Hodgeman Co., Ethan McNally – Centralia, Trenton Harper – Leavenworth, Ja’Laveyn January – Shawnee Heights, Trystian Juarez – Liberal, Daniel Sanchez – Dodge City, Trey Bazil – Lyndon, Bryce Seib – TMP, Cade Gourley – Hoxie, Cooper Barriger – La Crosse, Jace Schoen – Lakeside, Grant Schoenrock – Victoria, Jacob Kirchoff – Smith Center, Sam Hicks – Basehor Linwood, Michael Anderson – Olathe West, Brayden Beerbrower – Eudora, Dalton Hilyard – Douglass, Keyan Miller – Concordia, Andrew Zeller – Burlingame, Rylan Basart – Stockton, Derek Johnson – Hoxie, Conner Dinkel – Hill City, Holden Barker – Crest, Michael Laymon – Central Plains, Junior Diaz – Syracuse, Kaleb Wise – Halstead, Garyson Booth – Holton, Silas Jones – Norton, Landin Midgett – Columbus (OLB/DB), Gabe Martin – Columbus, Nick Rehmer – Colby, Cayce Welch – Erie, Tyler Voss – Colby, Luke Franklin – Smith Center, Branson Hiserote – Beloit, Caleb Dotterer – Lincoln, Tank Pratt – Olathe North, Zac Kramer – Nemaha Central, Alexavier King – Olathe North, Jackson Davis – Olathe North, Tate Deever – Wabaunsee, Ben Patterson – Hutchinson, Jesse Whitmer – Russell, Kyle Werner – Plainville
Several return after having big seasons in 2020. Check out who to watch in 2021 from the most complete list in Kansas by the most trusted source in sports information in Kansas. This lists main purpose is to represent the entire state from every class. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we will do this position by position. Chet Kuplen, CEO/Founder of Sports in Kansas, evaluates players every year based on performance from prior year, our all-state lists from last year and events (camps/combines) he sees players across the state with input from several coaches and media members. This is not a recruiting list or prospect list and players are not ranked or in any special order. This list is powered by Seatbelts Are For Everyone, Nex-Tech Wireless, American Implement and Mammoth Sports Construction. Be on the lookout for our postseason honors after the 2021 season on who will be the Top 100 seniors in Kansas and who will make the Sports in Kansas All Non-Senior Team, Player of the Year honors etc. While its impossible for us to check out every player in the state, we have a pretty good track record at going into detail like no other outlet in the state and don’t rank players just to sell a subscription to an online service that cost, WE ARE FREE and a trusted source. If you ever have a player that you think we should take a look at be sure to DM @sportsinkansas or [email protected] as tips coming in can always help out on who we should check out! If you are interested in a premium player evaluation contact Chet Kuplen by TEXT at 620-719-0283 or email [email protected] Several player evaluations landed major offers over the last ten football seasons.