“Family” is a word that is always used to describe K-State football. On the field, there is one unit that epitomizes this relationship unlike any other: the linebackers.
The improvements they have made this year have become evident down the road. From the struggle at Iowa State to the shutout against Texas, the linebackers have come to be a dominant and complete position.
The family structure starts with seniors Dakorey Johnson and Jonathan Truman as the two big brothers, who organize and push their younger sibling into doing exactly what needs to be done.
At the bottom of the structure is freshman Elijah Lee as the little brother, who is in the process of being molded into the type of player the lynch mob needs at linebacker.
“We’re all pretty close, we joke around, we all hang out together outside of football,” Lee said. “So its just not an on the field thing, because we’re really close as a family. If your teammates aren’t that close to you, you’ll never learn the ropes or how to play at the position.”
Lee understands how his age plays a role in the complex of the position, and knows that he can rely on any of his teammates.
“Everybody is really experienced and no one is really close to my age,” Lee said. “But whenever I get out there, I feel like they take care of me and make sure I’m in the right position.”
With the help of his teammates, Lee has put himself in the position to be known as one of the best linebackers off the edge on the team. Lee leads the team with 3.5 sacks on the season, also forcing a fumble with his hard-nosed style.
Improvement isn’t something that happens without work, just like building a relationship with teammates. For this group, it started after last season, through the winter and spring where the workouts forced them to improve together.
“We’ve grown together, it started all the way back in winter conditioning, and it has moved us forward,” sophomore Will Davis said. “We’ve watched film together, we’ve hung out together – I think it has really helped us jell as a group, and we’ve become really cohesive that way. I think it is just that we spending so much time together, we’re all best friends, so I think that’s really helped us.”
The preparation and hardship that this group has went through has caused the group to become a more crisp unit. They have progressively made less mistakes and have been able to become one of the best second-levels against the rush in the nation.
“The biggest jump for us is just understanding the game better, it’s probably evident (to everyone else), and we think it’s evident when we watch film,” Davis said. “We’re getting our reads better, we’re getting to places faster because we know where we’re going and what we’re supposed to do.”
For Truman, one of the defensive captains and leading tackler for the team, confidence isn’t something that has run short for the group. He knows everyone in the group can step up when they need to, and that it all stems from the relationship that they’ve built.
“We have a lot of talent at our position, I’m just very fortunate to have Will Davis and (Johnson) beside me, and (Lee) and those guys coming in and out of the game,” Truman said. “I just have a lot of confidence in those guys and their preparation, they prepare well each week, they care about their teammates. They want to do absolutely everything they can to help the team.”