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2012 Preview: Cain Keys Linebacking Unit

Getty Images continues its preview of the 2012 TCU football team with a look at the linebackers.

Former Miami (Fla.) head coach Randy Shannon is in his first year as the Horned Frogs' linebackers coach. In five of his six seasons (2001-06) as their defensive coordinator, the Hurricanes ranked in the top seven nationally in total defense. Shannon was a four-year letterman at linebacker and a starter on Miami's 1987 national championship team.

Kenny Cain (6-1, 225, Sr.), an all-conference selection last season, had a team-high 72 stops in 2011. He became the fourth different linebacker in the last four years to lead TCU in tackles.

Paul Dawson (6-2, 230, So.), a transfer from Trinity Valley Community College, is in the mix to be an immediate contributor. Dawson was a wide receiver at Skyline High School in Dallas.

Joel Hasley (6-1, 220, So.) is from nearby Aledo, Texas, and a returning letterman. He tied for fourth on the Horned Frogs last season with nine special teams tackles.

Danny Heiss (6-1, 222, So.) and David Stoltzman (6-0, 210, Sr.) add depth and will push for playing time this fall. Heiss was on special teams in 2011 before suffering a season-ending injury in the opener at Baylor.

True freshman A.J. Hilliard (6-2, 215, Fr.) and Marcus Mallet (6-1, 216, So.) are young players who could factor as well.

Hilliard was ranked by as the No. 5 inside linebacker in Texas and No. 21 nationally coming out of Klein Oak (Texas) High School. He was also No. 72 in the Texas Top 100. Mallet lettered in 2011 for his work on special teams.


1- Horned Frog linebackers (Danny Heiss) whose fathers lettered in baseball at TCU (Chip Heiss, 1983-84)

3- National championships won by TCU linebackers coach Randy Shannon as a player and assistant coach at Miami

4- Former TCU linebackers active in the NFL (Tank Carder, Buffalo; David Hawthorne, New Orleans; Jason Phillips, Carolina; Daryl Washington, Arizona)

9- Career starts by TCU linebackers, all by Kenny Cain

72 - Team-high tackles by Kenny Cain last season, making him the fourth different linebacker in the last four years to top TCU in that category