Talented Group of Linebackers Figure to be Strength of Defense

Aug. 15, 2008

STANFORD, Calif. - The linebacker position figures to be strength of Stanford's defense, as the Cardinal returns three starters from a year ago in Clinton Snyder, Pat Maynor and Chike Amajoyi.

Snyder, who is listed on preseason watch lists for the Bronko Nagurski, Chuck Bednarik and Butkus Awards, sets the tone for Stanford's defense with his physical presence and leadership skills. He has started all but two games over the last two seasons and earned honorable mention All-Pac 10 honors in 2007 after finishing among the conference leaders in virtually every defensive category, including fumbles forced (4-t-1st), tackles-for-loss (14.5-5th), fumbles recovered (3-t-4th), sacks (8.0-t-7th) and tackles (89-t-9th).

A fifth-year senior, Maynor has played in 30 games and has made 20 starts over the last two seasons and is tied for second on Stanford's active career list with 135 tackles and 19.5 tackles-for-loss. He finished third on the team last year in total tackles (88) and led the team with a career-best 16.5 tackles-for-loss. His 1.50 TFL per game average ranked second in the Pac-10 and tied for 12th nationally.

Amajoyi made an immediate contribution last season as a natural freshman, finishing with 47 tackles, 9.0 tackles-for-loss and 4.0 sacks. He also tied for the team lead and ranked fifth in the Pac-10 with three fumble recoveries. Amajoyi made a seamless transition from outside linebacker to the middle during spring drills and seems poised to develop into a major force this season.

'Those three guys set the tone for a very tough, aggressive and athletic unit,' said head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Harbaugh also points to the versatility of this group as a key to its cohesiveness. 'They've all had experience playing other positions, which helps in leaning what each player is responsible for. They are of one mindset as a group.'

Harbaugh is also pleased with the quality depth which has developed at this position with the continued improvement of Will Powers, Nick Macaluso and Max Bergen.

Powers, a local product from nearby Foster City who prepped at Serra High School, is expected to see most of his time backing up Snyder. A physically-gifted player, he has appeared in 23 of 24 games over the last two seasons, including four starts.

Macaluso made significant strides last season as a viable defensive contributor, playing in nine games and earning six starts. He finished with 23 tackles (15 solo), 2.5 tackles-for-loss and one sack to earn Sporting News All-Pac-10 freshman team honors. The Middletown, N.J.-native finished with a career-high six tackles, including three solo stops, in Stanford's upset win over USC. He should see most of his time this season working with Amajoyi at middle linebacker.

Bergen, who coaches feel might be the quickest player among the linebackers, saw plenty of reps during spring drills and is slated to see most of his time working behind Maynor at WLB.

Senior Thaddeus Chase and junior Andrew Fowler will also add quality depth to this talented unit.

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