It's tough to convince people that there are some extremely good talents on
one of the worst defense s in the MAC, but I promise that they exist. Ever since transferring from Concordia College, linebacker Great Ibe (pronounced: eBay; Kelechukwu Great Ibe is his full name) has been nothing more than a positive contribution for the Eastern Michigan Eagles defense.
Redshirted his first year with the team in 2012, he worked his way into making nine starts the following season and finished fourth on the team with 62 total tackles.
Having to quickly transition from a linebacker into a 4-3 system to being an inside linebacker in a 3-4 with the coaching changes and being on a team without its leading tackler from the 2013 team, Ibe was still able to be an over-achiever. He led the team with 133 total tackles (third in MAC) with 11 tackles for loss, two pass breakups, one forced fumble and an assisted sack. Ibe recorded double-digit tackles in nine games in 2014, including a career-high 21 tackles against UMass.
Ibe's 2014 campaign was good enough to earn Second Team All-MAC honors at season's end, and is projected to be a First Team player this year by both Phil Steele and Athlon. Ibe is also on the preseason Rotary Lombardi Award watch list heading into 2015.
Entering his final season with the Eagles, the redshirt-senior still has a lot to prove, not only in terms of individual performances, but for the rest of the team as well. The last time EMU wasn't last or second to last in scoring defense in the MAC was in 2011 when they were tied with Kent State for fourth with 24.3 points per game, before Ibe's tenure with the team. That's not a "well they're obviously better off without him" thing, because there would be no logic behind saying that. His leadership on and off the field is an absolute necessitation for EMU to turn things around, and with as deep as their linebacker corps is this year, the Eagles need to be a much better at stopping the run (or just better overall) with Ibe as the leader.