Oct. 5, 2011
By Sal Interdonato, Times Herald-Record
WEST POINT, N.Y. - Colin Linkul looks like he knows the snap count as he has a 300-pound offensive tackle on his heels in a split second.
Linkul gets as low to the ground as possible and keeps his feet moving.
The lineman grabs a hold of Linkul's jersey as he keeps driving. Linkul doesn't quit on the play and drops the quarterback.
Linkul, all 191 pounds of him, is becoming a disruptive force. The freshman defensive end had his first two career quarterback sacks and another pressure - which forced a key second-quarter interception - in a 45-6 win over Tulane last week. Linkul helped revive Army's defense, which had its best game of the season.
"It was definitely a thrill," said Linkul, a St. Louis native. "It's just good to have an impact on the game."
Linkul's effort was even more impressive considering he was coming off a hamstring injury, which caused him to miss three games.
And get this - Linkul had never played defensive end before he arrived at West Point this summer as a true freshman.
"I had always played linebacker," said Linkul, who played nose guard at 170 pounds for one game his sophomore year at St. Louis Priory School. "I was even undersized for a linebacker. I thought maybe they'd put me at safety when I came here."
Army coach Rich Ellerson noticed Linkul's explosiveness off the line early in preseason camp. Linkul was unblockable, leaving linemen in the dust during pass-protection drills.
"He's very explosive, very quick, he can add something in situations," said Ellerson, who inserted Linkul on passing downs last week. "I don't know if Josh McNary (Army's all-time sacks leader, who graduated in May) does that one thing any better than he does in terms of challenging a guy off the edge with raw speed."
One look at Linkul and pass-rushing specialist doesn't come to mind.
Coaches call him "Beave" for his resemblance to the "Leave It to Beaver" character in the sitcom.
Teammates nicknamed Linkul "Kraken" last week, a sea-like creature from the movie, "Clash of the Titans."
"He has the fastest get-off of the entire defense," said defensive tackle A.J. Mackey. "We all wonder how he's so fast off the ball. It's kind of crazy how he can create havoc while giving up 100 pounds or more."
Linkul was an unknown coming into the season. Ellerson had him pegged for an outside linebacker down the road.
Now Linkul is a difference-maker.