Falcons’ veteran linebackers bringing ‘high energy’ to defense


Bowling Green State University placed a nation-best five football student-athletes on the 2023 Wuerffel Trophy Watch List, the All Sports Association announced on Thursday.

Three of the five, interior linebackers Darren Anders and Brock Horne and outside linebacker Demetrius Hardamon, play on the defensive side of the ball.

The Wuerffel Trophy, known as “College Football’s Premier Award for Community Service,” is presented each February in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Named after 1996 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel from the University of Florida, the Wuerffel Trophy is awarded to the FBS player that best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.

All three veteran linebackers have been filling the bill on the athletic achievement side of the equation, coming into the season with a combined nine letters (Anders 4, Horne 3, Hardamon 2).

They got their first chance to show what the defense can do when the Falcons hosted its first practice open to the media on Wednesday.

“I think it was high energy out there. Everyone was excited to be there. We were flying around at the start, and it probably dropped off a little bit and then we picked it up again,” said the 6-foot-1, 235-pound Horne, a senior from Romeo, Michigan.

“Hopefully our offense can kind of match the tempo or we’ll just keep getting them after them like we did today.”

BGSU head coach Scot Loeffler said at the beginning of the practice the offense seemed to be controlling plays from scrimmage, but by the end of practice the defense seemed to be getting the upper hand.

“Defensively, at the end I thought we played well,” Loeffler said. “I saw some positives, being the head coach, but you never walk out happy. You always find a way to be made about something.”

Horne said there was talk after the practice session ended among his defensive teammates about how they turned the scrimmage plays around.

“It was definitely a talking point at the end — we were all brought up together,” Horne said. “It felt good, and we were talking about how fun it was. Everyone out there as a defense making all those stops. It’s a lot more fun when it is that way.”

Last year, Horne appeared in all 13 of BGSU’s games with one start, getting seven tackles and one tackle for a loss in a win at Akron and five tackles and a TFL in the Quick Lane Bowl against New Mexico State.

The Falcons finished the season 6-7 and were one game out of appearing in the MAC championship game.

Horne returns with his roommate, Anders, who graduated, briefly entered the transfer portal, but since decided to stay at BGSU to get his master’s degree and play his final year of college football as a Falcon.

The 6-0, 225-pound Anders (Sr., North Olmsted, Ohio) led the MAC in tackles in 2021 and was a first-team All-MAC honoree.

Anders has started 31-straight games for Bowling Green and is coming off a 2022 season where he had 77 tackles. He needs 24 tackles to become just the third Falcon since 2000 to amass 300 career tackles.

“It’s good to have Darren back,” Horne said. “He and I were roommates and we’re super close so it’s going to be awesome to be able to play with him again.

“Last year, I got to rotate in with him a little bit and that was awesome. It’s exciting to hopefully be back on the field more.”

Hardamon (Sr., Beavercreek, Ohio), at 6-4, 240, has appeared in 26 career games for the Falcons after transferring to BGSU in 2019 from Georgetown College, an NAIA school in Kentucky.

He was second on the team with six sacks in 2022 and was named MAC East Defensive Player of the Week after recording five tackles, three TFLs, two sacks and forcing a fumble BGSU recorded in the win over Miami. He also returned a fumble 45 yards for a touchdown in a win at Central Michigan.

Not resting on laurels

Horne says this is a defense that loves to play football.

“Everyone on our defense loves football,” Horne said. “I think that is the most fun when everybody flies around. We all love getting after it.”

However, Horne believes that the Falcons cannot rest on their laurels. Despite reaching a bowl game and having some success in the Mid-American Conference, they need to do better.

“It does help but it is going to take everyone to step up,” Horne said. “I think we should kind of move away from what we did last season and kind of focus on this season.

“A lot of older guys left so we need a lot of younger guys to step up. Obviously, we want to be better than we were last season. We weren’t good enough last season at the end of the day.

“We lost some games, and we could have been better. Build off it? Yeah, but more importantly focusing on what we can do better as a defense. Being the best defense in the MAC and in the country is more important.”

Plus, there is a good chance Horne will find himself in a starting role this year, and he has to take advantage of the opportunity.

“I think the goal is always to be like an All-MAC player,” Horne said. “Obviously, All-American would be awesome but I’ll set the bar as an All-MAC player and leader of the defense — those are the two most important things.

“But, you know, it’s not all about me. It’s about how we play defensively. As long as we are out there making a ton of stops and stopping their offense — that is the most important thing.”

Bowling Green, which returns 52 letterwinners and 13 starters (offense and defense), opens the season at Liberty on Saturday, Sept. 2. Kickoff is set for noon on CBS Sports Network.

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