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Top 70 MAC Football Players: #42 Quentin Poling (LB- Ohio Bobcats)

The play of Quentin Poling could set the tone for the Ohio defense in 2015. What can we expect from the young linebacker?

Mark Zerof (USA TODAY Sports)

When arguably the best player on the defensive side of the ball for your team is a freshman, you typically have a reason to be optimistic. Heading into 2015, one could make a case that sophomore linebacker Quentin Poling, who proved himself as a frosh last season, is just that: the best athlete that Ohio puts on the field.

Poling was thrust into a starting role after early injuries to Blair Brown and Ben Russell, but responded in enthusiastic and convincing fashion. Poling recorded two MAC-East defensive player of the week performances with exemplary games against Kentucky and Idaho. Against the Wildcats, Poling piled up 10 tackles, two and a half which were for loss, and registered two sacks in the Bluegrass state as the offense struggled but defensive impressed. Versus the Vandals, Poling picked off three passes (a linebacker with three INT's I kid you not), and earned Nagurski National Defensive Player of The Week honors.

These examples are from the only times that Poling proved himself to be a playmaker. With five sacks (good enough to tie for ninth in the conference) on the season and 8.5 tackles for loss, the 6'0", 220 lb. backer proved his worth time and time again.

Poling found his way onto Phil Steele's All-MAC list as a second-teamer, so he's found some respect in the media. The other Bobcat linebacker to make the list, Jovon Johnson, could help poling to pack a formidable wallop just yards behind the line of scrimmage. Opposing offenses beware.

Bobcat fans will hope that character issues don't remain a question after Poling's offseason arrest in Athens for his alleged role (for which he was charged for) in a fight outside of a popular Athens bar.

It seems he has maybe matured. I mean, at least he understands what bad music is.

With an offense that ranked 11th in the MAC in scoring offense in 2014 but second in scoring defense and third in rushing defense, Poling is just one of the pieces that is crucial for Ohio to make any kind of noise in the MAC East.