Hill, Silvio part of effort to replace Kozeal

UNK sophomore linebacker Rakid Hill practices defensive pass coverage on Aug. 15, 2017 (KHGI)

KEARNEY - Arguably the greatest linebacker to ever play at UNK, and one of the all–time leaders in NCAA tackles, Tyke Kozeal left a lasting impression after four years with the Lopers.

He gone.

"A lot of times, he was there before everyone else," said head coach Josh Lynn, who is in his first year with the program.

It's time for the next wave of linebackers to step up in Kozeal's spot.

"I think this is going to be a team effort of defensive linemen holding down offensive linemen, keep them off our linebackers, and the linebackers we do have, we need to be rallying to the football, getting two, three guys to the football," said Lynn.

There's an extremely young bunch on the come up; 11 of the 15 linebackers from the entire roster are a junior or senior.

Right now, the Lopers are taking small steps in the right direction, with sophomores Rakid Hill and Sal Silvio leading the way to help replace a legend.

"Myself and Sal, we're trying to embrace that role to the maximum potential," said Hill, who started two games and played in eight last year. "It's up to us to get up the energy now, we're not the young guys anymore. We just have to keep his intensity. He played practice like a game and we have to keep that intensity going."

Lynn says Hill and Silvio are mainstays on the defense as leaders, don't make mistakes and are solid tacklers.

It's a great time for each and every linebacker to make a name for themselves, and two redshirt freshman are really catching the attention of players and coaches alike.

"There's another young man, Ty Botsford, from Wisconsin," said Lynn. "Just coming along every day. Every day he's making plays, every day he's doing a good job."

"Well Quinn (Brummer) and Ty (Botsford) are doing an excellent job," echoed Hill. "They're in the meetings every day, writing down notes, they're focused.

"We've got guys like Alex Sovereign and Creighton Hamik stepping in and taking some reps, but Quinn and Ty really know how to feel the run and get into the pass drops. They really understand the defense just as well, if not better, than Sal and I."

All four of these guys should get significant playing time at Saturday's scrimmage from 5–7:30 p.m. at Foster Field. It's open to the public and serves as a prelude to the Lopers Under the Lights event.

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