Starting STUD: Mase Funa
Backup: Treven Ma’ae
This is where the Ducks really start showing how stacked they are. Mase Funa will return as a starter at the ‘Stud’ position after recording 35 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss as a sophomore. He showed just how valuable he could be in the pass rush as a freshman when he had 8.5 tackles for loss and four sacks.
Treven Ma’ae had one tackle as a freshman but he should be the primary backup along with Jaden Navarrette but the former holds a slight edge.
Starting WILL: Isaac Slade-Matautia
Backup: Justin Flowe
After a breakout sophomore season, Isaac Slade-Matautia had another solid campaign as a junior in 2020, posting 49 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and a sack in just seven games. If he had played a full 14-game season like he did in 2019, he would have smashed his previous career highs.
However, his job isn’t going to be completely safe with a budding star like Justin Flowe sitting behind him. The former five-star had a big spring and showed some flashes in the spring game. I wouldn’t be all that shocked if he took over one of the starting linebacker jobs by the end of the year.
Starting MLB: Noah Sewell
Backup: Dru Mathis
Yes, Noah Sewell is the younger brother of Penei and yes, he’s every bit as talented. The former five-star linebacker had a monster freshman season and he locked up the middle linebacker job for the foreseeable future. He had 48 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and two sacks in just seven games of his first collegiate season and he has All-American written all over him.
Dru Mathis will bring the experience as his senior backup.
Starting SAM: Adrian Jackson
Backup: Jackson LaDuke
Finally, at the ‘Sam’ linebacker spot, redshirt sophomore Adrian Jackson gets the nod and he’ll be backed up by a couple of young guys including Jackson LaDuke and Jonathan Flowe. Jackson only played in two games last season with four tackles and a sack. We could even see Kayvon Thibodeaux line up in this spot occasionally.