Updated: Jan 30
Linebackers are a vital part of any top-tier football team - they provide the defensive presence needed to stop opponents and keep the score down. But not all college teams have the same level of talent or produce NFL-level linebackers, so which schools should you look out for? This blog post will take a look at the top 10 college football programs that have consistently produced NFL-level linebackers over the years. We’ll take a look at their success rate, as well as what makes them such special programs for aspiring linebackers. So grab your favorite snack, sit back and get ready to learn about some of the best linebacking schools in the country!
Clemson University has long been a powerhouse in college football, and its linebacker corps is a big reason why. Over the last decade, they have produced several NFL-level linebackers, including All-Pros Shaq Lawson and Vic Beasley. The Tigers have a tradition of excellence on defense, and that starts with their linebackers. They are well-coached and well-disciplined, and they have the size and speed to make plays all over the field. Clemson's linebackers are some of the best in the country, and they have a track record of success at the next level. If you're looking for an NFL-caliber linebacker, Clemson is a great place to start your search.
University of Alabama
The University of Alabama is one of the top colleges for producing NFL level linebackers. The Crimson Tide have had at least one linebacker drafted in each of the last 10 drafts, including first-round picks like Dont'a Hightower, Rolando McClain, and Reuben Foster. Alabama's linebacker corps is always among the best in the country, and has been a big reason why the Crimson Tide have won five national championships since 2009. Head coach Nick Saban is a defensive mastermind, and he puts his players in a position to succeed at the next level. If you want to play linebacker in the NFL, Alabama is one of the best places to start your career.
Ohio State University
In the past decade, Ohio State University has been one of the top college football programs in terms of producing NFL-level linebackers. In that time, they have had 7 linebackers drafted in the first 3 rounds of the NFL Draft, including 2 in the first round. Some of the most notable Ohio State linebackers to make it to the NFL include A.J. Hawk, Ryan Shazier, and Darron Lee. All 3 of these players were drafted in the first round and have gone on to have successful careers in the NFL. Ohio State has a long history of success on the defensive side of the ball, and that has translated to success in producing NFL-level linebackers. If you are looking for a school to attend if you want to play linebacker at a high level, Ohio State is definitely one to consider.
Louisiana State University
In recent years, Louisiana State University has become one of the top college football programs in the country. The Tigers have produced a number of NFL-level linebackers, including All-Pro selection DeAndre Levy. LSU has a reputation for developing talented linebackers. The coaching staff does a great job of teaching players the fundamentals and instilling a competitive spirit. Several LSU linebackers have gone on to have successful NFL careers, including Pro Bowlers Eric Hill and Bradie James. The Tigers have had great success recruiting top linebacker prospects from around the country. In recent years, they've landed highly rated recruits like K'Lavon Chaisson and Devin White. LSU is currently home to one of the best linebacker corps in college football, led by All-American candidate Michael Divinity Jr.
University of Georgia
The University of Georgia has a rich tradition of producing top-level NFL linebackers. Some of the most successful NFL linebackers have come out of UGA, including Ray Lewis, Deion Jones, Roquan Smith, and Alec Ogletree. UGA has a reputation for being one of the best linebacker factories in the country. The coaching staff does an excellent job of developing their players and getting them ready for the NFL. Many of UGA's linebackers have gone on to have successful careers in the NFL. Ray Lewis is one of the most successful linebackers in NFL history. He was a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Baltimore Ravens and was named Super Bowl MVP in 2000. Lewis was a five-time First-Team All-Pro and was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2000. He is also a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Deion Jones is another successful UGA linebacker who is currently playing for the Atlanta Falcons. He was drafted in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft and has been one of the best linebackers in the league since then. In his three seasons with the Falcons, Jones has been named to two Pro Bowls and was named First-Team All-Pro in 2018. Roquan Smith is a young linebacker who is already making a name for himself in the NFL. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears with the eighth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Smith had an excellent rookie season.
Auburn University is one of the top colleges for producing NFL-level linebackers. Some of the Auburn linebackers who have made it to the NFL include Karlos Dansby, Takeo Spikes, and Quentin Groves. Auburn has a long history of success in college football, and this has translated to success at the professional level for its linebackers. Karlos Dansby, who was drafted in the second round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals, is one of the most successful Auburn linebackers in the NFL. He has been selected for two Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro in 2014. Takeo Spikes, who was drafted in the first round of the 1998 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, is another successful Auburn linebacker; he was selected to two Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro in 2003. Quentin Groves, who was drafted in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, has also had a successful career; he was selected for one Pro Bowl and was named an All-Pro in 2010. These three Auburn linebackers are just a few examples of the many that have had success at both the collegiate and professional levels. If you're looking to become an NFL linebacker, Auburn is definitely a school to consider!
Penn State University
Penn State University is one of the top colleges football teams that produce NFL-level linebackers. The school has a long tradition of success on the gridiron, and its defensive players have consistently been some of the best in the country. The Nittany Lions have produced a number of great linebackers over the years, including Jack Ham, LaVar Arrington, Paul Posluszny, and Sean Lee. All four of those players went on to have successful careers in the NFL. Penn State has also had several other linebackers who have had solid careers in the league, such as Brandon short and Dan Connor. So if you're looking for a college that can help you develop into an NFL-caliber linebacker, Penn State is definitely worth considering. The school has a great track record of producing top-notch defensive players, and its coaches have a wealth of experience working with linebackers.
Notre Dame is one of the most well-known and prestigious colleges football programs in the country. The Fighting Irish have a rich history of success on the gridiron, winning national championships in 1924, 1929, 1930, 1943, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1953, 1966, 1973, and 1988. They have also produced a number of NFL-level linebackers over the years. Some of the most notable Notre Dame linebackers to make it to the NFL include Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary, Kevin Hardy, and Courtney Brown. Butkus is considered one of the best defensive players in NFL history and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979. Singletary was also inducted into the Hall of Fame after an illustrious career with the Chicago Bears. Hardy had a long career with the Jacksonville Jaguars while Brown spent time with both the Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos. Current Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o is another player who looks like he could have a successful career at the next level. Te'o was a highly decorated college player, winning numerous awards including the Butkus Award (given to the nation's best linebacker) and being named a consensus All-American in 2012. He will likely be drafted early in the 2013 NFL Draft and has all the potential to become a star linebacker at the professional level.
As one of the most successful NFL teams in recent years, the Miami Dolphins have had their share of standout linebackers. Some of the best to come out of the University of Miami include future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, current stars like Sean Spence and Jon Beason, and linebacker greats like Dan Morgan and Jonathan Vilma.
Stanford University is one of the top collegiate football programs in the country. They have produced many NFL-level linebackers over the years. Most recently, they have had success with players like Von Miller, Zach Cunningham, and Blake Martinez. The Stanford Cardinal have a long history of success on the gridiron. They have won two national championships and produced numerous All-Americans. The program is known for its tough defense and physical play. This has translated well to the NFL, as many of their former linebackers have gone on to have successful careers at the next level. Some of the most notable Stanford linebackers in the NFL include Von Miller, Zach Cunningham, and Blake Martinez. All three of these players have been very successful at the professional level. Von Miller is a Super Bowl MVP and one of the best pass rushers in the league. Zach Cunningham is a Pro Bowl linebacker for the Houston Texans. Blake Martinez is a starting linebacker for the Green Bay Packers who led the NFL in tackles last season. These are just a few of the many successful Stanford alumni that are currently playing in the NFL. With such a rich history of producing top-level talent, it is no surprise that Stanford is one of the best colleges for football linebackers