UVA linebackers looking to become a strength this season

Nick Jackson and Antonio Cleary
Nick Jackson and Antonio Cleary(wvir)
Published: Mar. 27, 2022 at 10:56 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Virginia football team had its struggles on defense in 2021.

The Cavaliers gave up 466-yards per game, which was ranked 121st out of 130 teams in college football.

They’ll have a new staff, a new scheme, and just one constant at the linebacker position: Nick Jackson.

Jackson led the ACC in tackles in 2021.

The rising senior made 117 stops.

The next highest-total by a returning linebacker, was 37, by Hunter Stewart, but Jackson says the position will be a strength this year.

“These guys can play,” says Jackson. “That’s my impression of them. They’re coming out, and they’re hungry. They’re always asking to watch more film, and get extra reps. They’re always looking to compete on the field, and they’re hungry, and I like that a lot.”

UVA linebackers coach Clint Stintim says, “It’s a new staff, there’s some adjustment with the players. I think every player has an opportunity to prove themselves. Prove that they know what they’re doing, and prove they can do it with a physical mindset.”

Before implementing a new system, the Cavaliers are starting with the fundamentals.

“Every detail matters, from the ground up,” says Jackson. “We’re working on every little thing that you could imagine, from tackling, to hand placement, to just going back to every fundamental that you learned in PeeWee football.”

Sintim adds, “All of those things that ultimately make a good football player, we work them, and we drill them, so now when you do implement the scheme, you have guys who are capable of implementing it. I’m excited about that. Kinda building it from the ground up, and watch these guys flourish, and just be ballplayers.”

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