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Bison linebackers will have new look for game against Central Arkansas

NDSU will have to fill void left by Jabril Cox and Aaron Mercadel
Published: Sep. 22, 2020 at 8:13 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - As the Bison get set to play Central Arkansas on Saturday, Oct. 3rd, there will be a couple of new names stepping into starting roles for the NDSU defense.

Jabril Cox transferred to LSU and Aaron Mercadel called it a career earlier this fall which leaves Jackson Hankey as the only returning starter at linebacker for Code Green for the game against UCA.

“Jackson Hankey brings an incredible amount of stability to that linebacker room with his experience with that mike linebacker position," defensive coordinator David Braun said. "When you lose an Aaron Mercadel and you lose a Jabril Cox at both that Sam and Will position, James Kaczor and Jasir Cox, and the depth within that room, within that linebacker room, is going to have to step up in a big way and I’m excited to see that happen.”

Jabril’s younger brother Jasir has been tapped as his replacement this season.

“He’s had a good summer, a good fall camp, a good last eleven practices and it’s been fun to see him shift into this game plan mode where he can really start to hone in on a smaller package of defense and study our opponent, but we see him filling that role for us,” Braun said of Jasir.

On the other side will be James Kaczor, who has completed the transition from playing safety to moving up one level closer to the line of scrimmage.

Kaczor was able to get some experience playing the spot last season in a hybrid role.

“James has improved a lot in certain personnel’s.," Hankey said. "So last year he was more of a 10, 11 personnel guy and he didn’t play a lot of base reps, a lot of heavy, fullback, tight end sets. Really that’s a whole different set of run fits, coverages and all those things so it’s been very interesting to see him improve quite a bit.

"He’s gotten a lot better at playing that position.”

Hankey adds both Kaczor and Cox have put some weight on in the off season while still maintaining their speed.

“It is good to know that I have some guys outside of me that are very fast and can maybe compensate for my lack in that area at times,” he joked.

Copyright 2020 KVLY. All rights reserved.

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