Jack Lambert and James Harrison are just two of the excellent linebackers the MAC has produced throughout the years. This years crop of linebackers features some excellent talent as well, and at the end of the season one of them will be named the conference's best and earn the Lambert Linebacking Award.
1. Khalil Mack (Buffalo) — Let's be honest, this is Mack's award to lose. One of the most intimidating defensive forces in college football, Mack has destroyed offenses throughout his career. He's the active career leader in tackles for loss, and will likely hold the NCAA's All-Time record by the end of this season. He's big, he's fast, he's highly intelligent, and plays with a level of controlled aggression rarely seen. There's Mack, and then there's the rest of the conference.
2. Gabe Martin (Bowling Green) — It's easy to overlook Martin on a defense like Bowling Green's, but you shouldn't do it. He led the Falcons in tackles a year ago with 70, despite starting in just nine games. He's an intelligent linebacker with the ability to drop into coverage, or play the run. He's arguably the best member of Dave Clawsons' defense, and that should speak volumes about his candidacy right there.
3. Johnnie Simon (Western Michigan) — Simon finished 10th in the conference in total tackles in 2012, and that was actually a down year for this Florida native. This linebacker is really more like a large safety and he can play all over the field. The 2013 Jim Thorpe Award watch list member will have great numbers, but will it be enough to win the Lambert Linebacking Award?
4. Chris Wade (Miami) — The returning conference leader in tackles, Wade has good size (even if he's a bit on the short side) for a linebacker. He wears the title of quarterback of the defense proudly, and seems to have his hand in every defensive stop the RedHawks make. He was 10th in the nation with 128 tackles a season ago, in a true breakout year. Baring injury Wade will be right near the top of this list by season's end.
5. Keith Moore (Ohio) — From walk-on, to team captain, and now a member of our prestigious Lambert watch list, Moore has had a heck of a career in Athens. He led the 'Cats with 98 tackles a year ago at Mike. He's switching to Sam this fall, but don't expect to see his numbers drop. He's smart, and athletic, and has a nose for the ball carrier.
Who on this list will have the biggest season? Who will have the biggest fall? What names would you have liked to of seen on this list? Let us know in the comments section below.