|J.B. Fitzgerald (#42)|
Weight: 244 lbs.
High school: West Windsor Plainsboro High School in Princeton, NJ
Jersey number: #42
Last year: I ranked Fitzgerald #33 and said he'd make 20 tackles as a backup linebacker. He started 3 games at OLB and made 22 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 1 sack on the season.
Fitzgerald was the utility linebacker last season, playing a key backup role at all three linebacker positions and finishing 15th on the team in tackles. When it became obvious to the coaches (though it was obvious much earlier to fans) that Craig Roh was not cut out to be a 3-3-5 outside linebacker late in the season, Fitzgerald stepped into the starting OLB position. He had an up-and-down tenure as a starter in that time, recording half his tackles in those three starts and finishing the season with 6 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and his 1 sack in the bowl game against Mississippi State.
In the spring Fitzgerald played SAM linebacker but was #3 on the depth chart behind Cam Gordon and Jake Ryan; he also played MIKE linebacker but was #2 on the depth chart behind Marell Evans...who was only playing MIKE because Kenny Demens was out due to shoulder surgery. Essentially, Fitzgerald is buried in lots of places. That doesn't bode well for his future. Fitzgerald seems to play well in spurts, but he can't ever seem to put together a string of good play. "Clunky" is a good way to describe the way he moves on the field. He's not a bad backup to have on the roster, but at this point, it looks like he'll finish his career with a John Thompson-like whimper rather than a David Harris-like bang.
Prediction: Backup linebacker; 15 tackles