Albany State’s Marcavius Dudley isn’t very tall, but the 5-foot-9 linebacker has done just fine on the field this season with 47 tackles through six games. (email@example.com)
WHO: Albany State (3-3, 2-1) at Morehouse (2-4, 1-2)
WHAT: ASU’s fourth conference game of the season.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday.
RADIO: 98.1 FM.
LIVE UPDATES: Log onto: twitter.com/AlbHeraldSports.
ALBANY — Marcavius Dudley wasn’t born to be a linebacker.
He just turned into a pretty darn good one.
Dudley is listed at 5-foot-9 — “probably 7 1/2,” head coach Mike White joked — and a 220-pound wrecking ball in the middle of the Albany State defense.
He played middle linebacker in high school in Brunswick High’s 4-3 defense and never had a real problem with being vertically challenged. He stuck in the middle of ASU’s 3-4 defense and still hasn’t had a problem, second on the team and 15th in the conference in tackles with 47 through six games.
“Best linebacker in the conference,” Rams’ senior defensive back Gary Howard said of Dudley.
That’s high praise for a junior, who may not be able to see in the backfield at times.
“He’s as tough as they come,” White said. “He’s done a good job for us. He’s got leverage on people, but half the time you can’t see where the (heck) you’re supposed to be.”
All joking aside, Dudley uses his height (dis)advantage as a way to fight off blockers who sometimes outweigh him by more than 100 pounds.
“It’s hard, but I’ve got to do it,” Dudley said. “I wouldn’t say there’s a disadvantage. (I’ve got) a low center of gravity, so it helps me make a lot of tackles.”
He also credits the guys in front him, ASU’s defensive line, with keeping blockers off of him so he can stand tall and make reads in the backfield.
“My defensive line has been making it pretty easy, keeping (blockers) off of me,” Dudley said.
White hasn’t had many Dudley’s size to star at inside linebacker, which is usually reserved for taller, heavier bodies in the middle of the 3-4. He recalled Isaac Warren, a 5-9 linebacker, who graduated in 2010.
Dudley is probably done growing as a junior, too.
“This is it for him,” White said, although he’s good with that. “If we had a 6-2 guy like that, he probably wouldn’t be playing for Albany State.”
FORMER TORNADO STILL TACKLING: The guy in front of Dudley on the tackling leader list is former Monroe High star Larry Whitfield. Just a sophomore, Whitfield leads the Rams with 49 tackles from his linebacker position, which ranks 12th in the conference. He’s also fourth with 30 solo tackles.
Whitfield led the Rams in tackling last year with 104, was second on the team in tackles for loss (11.5) and even picked up a pair of sacks.
“I was just worried about playing hard and anything that comes my way, just come up and tackle,” Whitfield said. “You know, come get it.”
Whitfield had more time and space to come get it last year when he started the season at safety before being moved to linebacker two games into the season as a freshman after playing defensive end and wide receiver at Monroe.
“I really like linebacker,” Whitfield said. “You get a lot of contact.”
NO PLUS TO PENALTIES: Some analysts will tell you teams with high penalty counts are sometimes the more aggressive and better teams in football. White doesn’t buy it, at least not when you’re getting the flags the Rams are.
“We’ve talked about that a little this week,” White said. “Holding and illegal procedure – we’re having too much of those types of penalties. That has to stop because that puts us in bad situations.”
ASU (3-3, 2-1) has been flagged the most in the conference — 70 times in six games. The Rams are third-to-last in penalty yards per game with 91.3. The two least penalized teams in the conference are two of the worst teams record-wise.
Delay of game penalties have also cropped up at times during the season, and White isn’t sure why. One delay penalty in last week’s win over Lane came after another penalty that forced Rams’ offensive coordinator Uyl Joyner to come up with a new play-call scenario for a longer down-and-distance and caused a delay.
“(Joyner) calls (plays) from up top and it goes down to coach (Kenyan) Conner and he signals to the quarterback,” White said of the play-calling process. “I thought we did it better the week before, but then we came back against Lane and we got a couple penalties again.”