2024 Sun Belt LB Rankings: Jason Henderson, Marquis Watson-Trent Are the Front-Runners

    With some of the nation's most ferocious LBs residing in the Sun Belt, where do the conference's best stack up in the 2024 Sun Belt LB Rankings?

    The Sun Belt is known for many things, but fearsome front sevens across the conference have been its most recent calling card. That starts in the middle with inside linebackers, and there are plenty to go around in a conference full of tackling fiends.

    With many of the conference’s top tacklers returning next season, let’s look at where they line up against each other for the 2024 Sun Belt LB Rankings.

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    2024 Sun Belt LB Rankings

    10) Carl Glass Jr., UL-Monroe Warhawks

    The Warhawks are without two starting LBs and their team leaders in tackles from last season, with Michael Batton (80) transferring to Houston and Max Harris (79) off to Texas State. Carl Glass Jr. played in all 12 games with 10 starts at LB last season, racking up 59 tackles, seven for a loss, 1.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles.

    A hometown hero from Monroe, Louisiana, Glass Jr. excelled during his first season as a starter for ULM, and he’ll be called upon to take it a step further as a senior.

    9) Khalil Jacobs, South Alabama Jaguars

    After playing sparingly as a true freshman in 2022, Khalil Jacobs played in all 13 games with three starts for South Alabama last season. As a part-time player, he registered 59 tackles, 8.5 for a loss, three sacks, an interception, and three forced fumbles.

    With the team’s leading tackler, Quentin Wilfawn, graduating, Jacobs’ trajectory will continue to rise with an increased role as a junior.

    8) Max Harris, Texas State Bobcats

    The Bobcats lost both starting LBs in the middle of its 4-2-5 defense, with Brian Holloway (104 tackles) graduating and Dan Foster Jr. (52 tackles) entering the transfer portal. Max Harris decided to stay in conference, transferring from ULM after one season with the Warhawks, where he finished second on the team in tackles (79).

    His season-high in tackles for a game (12) came against the Bobcats. Head coach G.J. Kinne coached Harris as a true freshman at Incarnate Word in 2022, deepening their familiarity and making Harris the obvious frontrunner as one of the LB replacements for Texas State.

    7) Stephen Dix Jr, Marshall Thundering Herd

    A former four-star prospect out of high school, Stephen Dix Jr. spent his first three seasons at Florida State, playing 21 games with five starts and 59 tackles his first two years (2020-2021). He took a redshirt due to a season-ending in 2022, which led him to transfer to Marshall, where he racked up 67 tackles, seven for a loss, and two sacks.

    A 2023 CFN All-Sun Belt Honorable Mention, Dix Jr. was solid in his first year back from injury, and he’s likely to improve on that in his junior season.

    6) Jordan Stringer, Troy Trojans

    After no starts in 14 appearances and 19 total tackles in his first two seasons with the Trojans (2021-2022), Jordan Stringer made the most of his part-time role last season. Stringer played in all 14 games with four starts, finishing third on the team with 68 tackles, 4.5 for a loss, 1.5 sacks, and an interception.

    MORE: 2024 Sun Belt DT Rankings

    The departure of Trojans’ leading tackler, Jayden McDonald, allows Stringer to step in as a full-time starter for Troy his junior season.

    5) Justin Abraham, Georgia State Panthers

    A two-year starter for the Panthers, Justin Abraham enters his fifth season with Georgia State having played 37 games with 19 starts. He started 12 of 13 games last season, finishing second on the team with 84 tackles, eight for a loss, and 3.5 sacks. For his career, he has amassed 148 tackles for the Panthers.

    With the Panthers’ leading tackler from last season, Jontrey Hunter, preparing for the NFL Draft, Abraham is the heir apparent to take his spot.

    4) Charles Willekes, Arkansas State Red Wolves

    Charles Willekes waited four years in college to become a starter. He played in one game in his first two years at Michigan State (2019-2020) before being used sparingly in 23 games in his first two years at Arkansas State (2021-2022), registering 35 tackles.

    That changed last year when he started all 13 games, finishing second on the team with 89 tackles, eight for loss, and 1.5 sacks, and earning an All-Sun Belt Honorable Mention selection. After finally proving he can handle a full workload, Willekes returns for his sixth-year senior season as the Red Wolves’ leading LB.

    3) K.C. Ossai, Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

    A rotational player since he was a true freshman in 2021, K.C. Ossai exploded as a full-time starter last season, racking up 95 tackles, 4.5 for a loss, and a sack, earning an All-Sun Belt Honorable Mention nod. Ossai registered 62 tackles off the bench in 2022, 162 through his first three seasons.

    A rare four-year senior in today’s college football climate, Ossai is already the established leader of the Ragin’ Cajuns defense and starts the season positioned high on our 2024 Sun Belt LB Rankings.

    2) Marquise Watson-Trent, Georgia Southern Eagles

    Finishing as the conference’s third-leading tackler last season with 122 tackles, Marquise Watson-Trent has 245 career tackles in four seasons with the Eagles. A 2023 All-Sun Belt First Team selection and a 2022 Second Team honoree, Watson-Trent has racked up 236 of those tackles in the last two seasons alone.

    with Khadry Jackson leaving for the NFL, Watson-Trent’s role will only increase as a fifth-year senior in 2024.

    1) Jason Henderson, Old Dominion Monarchs

    Jason Henderson is a tackling machine with 434 tackles in three years, tied for 26th all-time, and 154 away from Carlton Martial’s NCAA record of 578 while at Troy (2018-2022). Henderson is also 98 tackles away from Luke Kuechly’s all-time, 4-year tackle record of 532 at Boston College (2009-2011).

    His last two seasons are in the top 10 for most all-time tackles in a year — 186 in 2022 (second most) and 170 in 2023 (ninth most). He was one tackle away last year from leading the country in tackles for consecutive seasons despite playing two fewer games than the leader, Iowa’s Jay Higgins (171 tackles).

    KEEP READING: 2024 Sun Belt Power Rankings

    Henderson averaged 145 tackles in his first three seasons but is averaging 178 in the last two years, putting him on pace to break Martial’s and Kuechly’s records. He’ll be without his fellow Monarch LB Wayne Matthews III, who committed to Michigan State after finishing second in the conference with 135 tackles.

    On the verge of his true senior season, Henderson is not just in the running for best LB in the conference; he’s in the running for best LB in the country and best overall player in the Sun Belt. He’s an easy selection atop our 2024 Sun Belt LB Rankings.

    2024 Sun Belt LB Rankings | 11-20

    11) Caden Sullivan, Appalachian State
    12) Taurus Jones, JMU
    13) Wyatt Gedeon, Coastal Carolina
    14) Josiah Robinson, Georgia State
    15) Clinton Anokwuru, Coastal Carolina
    16) Dante Motley, Arkansas State
    17) Travor Randle, ULM
    18) Derrell Farrar, Appalachian State
    19) Trent Hendrick, JMU
    20) TQ Newsome, Southern Miss

    Miss any action from the top college QB Rankings during the 2023 football season? Want to track all the movement with the college football transfer portal? College Football Network has you covered with that and more!


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