This is a series on the key players for the 2012 season. Big things are expected for some, while others will need to improve over their previous performances. If 2012 is a good year, it will be in part to the key players overachieving.
Junior Linebacker, Kevin Pierre-Louis
What he's been: BC's second-leading tackler. On most teams KPL would already be a star. But he played next to college football's tackling machine. There wasn't much room for headlines or an extra tackle with Luke Kuechly doing so much. Pierre-Louis also missed three games last year and played through pain in others. When healthy, he showed great anticipation and was a very solid tackler. In a way, he's a lot like Kuechly.
What he needs to be: KPL needs to be more of a game changer. He's got the speed and instincts to do it. Also, his role won't be in the middle, so he can take chances that Kuechly could not. Ideally he'd have a season like Herzy's 2008. Where on one play he's blitzing the QB and on the next he's running a fumble back. While our scheme has defined much of the defensive success the past five years, we've also benefited from great individual performances. To be great again, we need someone with the tools like KPL to become elite.
Why I like his chances to shine: KPL played really well in the first half of 2011. If he had stayed healthy, he would've been all conference. There's no reason he can't be even better this year. We'll miss Kuechly, but the defensive line might be better this year -- that will create more opportunities for big plays from Pierre-Louis. I also like his stats. His tackles for loss and pass break ups in a shortened season give me hope that he'll do even more when playing in all games and playing at 100%.
I think KPL takes off this year. I think he'll be first team ACC, lead BC with over 110 tackles, and have at least two INTs and two fumble recoveries.