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Duke football 2018 position preview: Linebackers

Ben Humphreys (pictured) and Joe Giles-Harris will lead a strong Blue Devils linebacking corps this season.
Ben Humphreys (pictured) and Joe Giles-Harris will lead a strong Blue Devils linebacking corps this season.

With the 2018 season right around the corner, The Chronicle breaks down each of the eight major position groups: quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and tight ends, offensive line, defensive line, defensive backs, linebackers and specialists.

Duke's linebackers were its strongest unit last season, and with All-American Joe Giles-Harris and Ben Humphreys back for another year, it is likely to be more of the same this fall. Both starting linebackers were named team captains for this season and have proven to be reliable tacklers and leaders who are difficult for opposing linemen to contain.

Key players lost: None

Tinashe Bere, who made six starts as a freshman in 2015, transferred to Cincinnati after losing virtually all of his playing time last year, playing just 10 snaps all season in the Blue Devils', appearing in only the final two games. Zavier Carmichael also graduated after a productive first two years in Durham that featured five starts in 2015, though he registered just seven tackles in his junior and senior years combined.

Projected starters: Joe Giles-Harris and Ben Humphreys

Giles-Harris, a redshirt junior starting at will linebacker in Duke's 4-2-5 scheme, has led the team in tackles in both his years of action and was a first-team All-ACC selection and second-team All-American last season. Humphreys, the Blue Devils' senior mike linebacker, sat out two games with a leg injury last season but still registered 70 tackles, the third-most on the team. The duo are the linchpins of Duke's defense and will look to make an even bigger impact in their final season together, with Humphreys set to graduate after the year.

Dark horse: Koby Quansah

Quansah played in all 13 games last year and quietly racked up 52 tackles to finish fifth on the team. The junior was the only Blue Devil to force two fumbles, and though his talent won't surprise anybody anymore, he will be the clear choice to step in whenever either of Duke's stars need a breather.

The Blue Zone has already previewed Duke's quarterbacks, specialists, defensive backs, running backs and wide receivers/tight ends. And come back tomorrow as we break down Duke's offensive and defensive lines. 

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