We are unveiling one unit per day and will end Thursday with overall coaching staffs.
The rankings take into account what the players have accomplished, how we think the players will do this season and sheer talent. But production does trump potential.
Here are the linebacker rankings. Next up: secondaries.
LINEBACKER UNIT RANKINGS
1. NORTH CAROLINA BUZZ: Seniors Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant are potential first-round draft picks on a Tar Heels defense loaded with talent. The third returning starter is sophomore Kevin Reddick, and there is good depth. Sturdivant had 11 tackles for loss last season.
2. OHIO STATE BUZZ: Ross Homan is the centerpiece. He paced the team with 108 tackles last fall while tying for the team lead in interceptions with five. Etienne Sabino always has possessed the physical tools but has needed to master the schemes. Brian Rolle is on the small side (5-11/218), but he runs well and is a punishing hitter.
3. MICHIGAN STATE BUZZ: Is there a better linebacker in America than Greg Jones, who has made 359 tackles in his three seasons? Jones made 154 tackles last season, with nine sacks, 14 tackles for loss and eight quarterback hurries. Eric Gordon is good, too, while Chris Norman teems with potential. That trio heads a deep group.
4. ALABAMA BUZZ: The Tide have to replace all four starters, but Dont'a Hightower is making his return from an anterior cruciate ligament injury and could be an All-American. There is a ton of talent here, and it's finally going to get a chance to shine.
6. OKLAHOMA BUZZ: The Lewises (Travis and Ronnell, no relation) are beasts. Travis has made 253 tackles in his first two seasons with the Sooners. A lot is expected from redshirt freshman Tom Wort in the middle.
8. TEXAS BUZZ: Keenan Robinson is an emerging star on the outside, and Emmanuel Acho is solid, too. The middle 'backer will be a new starter, but the leading contenders are seniors. There also are some talented incoming freshmen.
9. FLORIDA BUZZ: The Gators lost two starters, but there was excellent depth last season. Senior A.J. Jones has all-league potential, senior Brandon Hicks has been a part-time starter in each of the past two seasons and coaches rave about redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins. Sophomore Jon Bostic also will see a lot of time.
10. CONNECTICUT BUZZ: With Scott Lutrus battling injuries last season, Lawrence Wilson -- who went to Paul Bryant High in Tuscaloosa, Ala. -- shouldered a bigger load, leading the Big East with 140 tackles, including 11 for loss. Lutrus, who had 69 tackles in eight games, is healthy, and sophomore Jory Johnson saw ample time as a rookie.