At the other inside linebacker position, Buck linebacker, projected starter Manoa Pikula has been out while resolving academic issues. He was expected to return to practice sometime this week.
Austin Heder, who entered fall camp as the projected backup to Stout at Mike linebacker after recently returning home from a mission, has been the starter at Buck.
Teu Kautai and Jherremya Leuta-Douyere have been backing up Langi and Heder. But Tidwell added that Pikula and Stout “are going to be in the mix” this season.
Will Pikula reclaim his starting job at Buck linebacker?
“Whether he starts or not will really be up to him — how prepared he is and how well conditioned he is,” Tidwell said. “He’s going to have to earn it.”
Leuta-Douyere is also switching to the inside linebacker position after playing outside linebacker last season.
“Jherremya is becoming more and more reliable learning the position,” Tidwell said. “He’s smart. He’s a big kid. Very physical, very strong. He had a good spring, but it was new for him in the spring, and he’s still learning. But he’s getting it.”
Other inside linebackers who could make an impact this season include Sione Takitaki, Toloa’i Ho Ching and Phillip Amone.
“We’re going to have some good depth at that position,” Tidwell said. “Right now, we have seven guys that are active and three more to still get out there. We’ll have 10 total.”
One of those 10 is a recently returned missionary acclimating to a new school and learning a new position.
So far it appears Langi is equal to the challenge.
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