(Linebacker Prince Shembo from Ardrey Kell High School performs an exercise with a medicine ball at April's N.C. Shrine Bowl football combine at Butler High School. STAFF FILE PHOTO)
Each day this week, The Observer will rank the top five prospects in the Carolinas by position as we track their recruiting. Today we present the best linebackers in the area—our Lawrence Taylor wanna-bes. The first four of these guys are members of their state’s Observer Top 25 prospects list. If you have a question or can think of a player we’ve missed, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
1/CHRISTIAN MCCAIN, Northern Guilford: It’s highly likely that the 6-foot-5½, 196-pound McCain will bulk up and play DE in college, but he’s been an LB throughout his prep career and, with 4.7 speed in the 40-yard dash, could remain there. As a junior, McCain led Northern Guilford in tackles with 97, including 16 tackles for loss and four sacks. He also blocked a kick and produced a safety. Offers have arrived from ECU, Florida State, N.C. State, South Carolina, Syracuse and Virginia Tech, among others.
2/PRINCE SHEMBO, Ardrey Kell: Shembo is the reverse of McCain, spending time at DE in high school but, at 6-2 and 225 pounds with 4.65 speed, probably better suited for LB at the next level. As a junior, he made 90 tackles, including eight sacks, and intercepted two passes. Among those recruiting him are Clemson, Duke, UNC, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Stanford and Virginia Tech. 3/KENDALL MOORE, Southeast Raleigh: Similar to Shembo in size (6-2½, 229) and speed (4.7), and it likely translates to middle linebacker in college. As a junior, Moore was all over the place, making 125 tackles with seven sacks. He also had 30 receptions and seven TDs on offense. Numerous schools are chasing him, including Duke, ECU, UNC, N.C. State, Notre Dame, South Carolina and Wake Forest.
4/JUSTIN PARKER, Beaufort (S.C.): As a junior, the 6-2, 225-pound Parker made 97 tackles and had three interceptions from his ILB position. He could play OLB in college; Beaufort coach Mark Clifford calls him “A great open-field tackler.” Clemson, Georgia, Maryland, N.C. State, South Carolina, Syracuse and Wake Forest are some of the schools recruiting him.
5/TY LINTON, Charlotte Christian: A tough call for this spot between Linton and teammates Kelby Brown and David Durham. Linton should make a fine outside linebacker in college; he’s 6-3 and 210 pounds with 4.5 speed. Last year he was in on 74 tackles, with 6.5 sacks and 7 passes defensed. He has offers from Duke, East Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Wake Forest, Louisville, Syracuse, West Virginia, Illinois and Wisconsin.
Ken Tysiac has covered the ACC in the Raleigh Bureau of The Charlotte Observer since 2003. He spent eight years in South Carolina covering Clemson, first with the Anderson Independent-Mail and later with The (Columbia) State. He graduated from Notre Dame in 1991.