With no starters returning from last year’s Middle Tennessee linebacking corps, this season the Blue Raiders will rely on new faces to lead the defensive attack.
As middle linebacker, redshirt junior Myles Harges is hoping to provide a good deal of the leadership MT is replacing.
“He has to provide leadership and play within the scheme of the defense,” defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix said. “He’s the quarterback for us right now, and he’s probably the guy who’s most experienced from just being here and understanding what we’re doing. He’s done a great job.”
Harges transferred to Middle Tennessee before last season from Itawamba Community College in Fulton, Miss. After racking up 73 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and seven sacks in his sophomore year for the Indians, he had hopes of seeing the field regularly in his first year in Murfreesboro. But, the injury bug came biting, and a sprained MCL kept Harges out of games for much of the season.
The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder from Grenada, Miss., played in just two games in 2015, but he stayed focused and participated in practice drills even when he knew he wouldn’t see the field on game day.
“It was tough when it first started, but coach Nix made it clear to keep preparing like I was still on the field,” Harges said.
Now almost a year after hurting his knee, Harges said he doesn’t notice the injury anymore. He even said he feels like he’s playing faster than he was at the beginning of last season.
“I have no problem with it,” he said. “I forget about it most of the time. I move faster because I understand the defense more and more.”
Even with the injury and a 2015 season in which he didn’t see a lot of the field on Saturdays, Harges didn’t lose his leadership characteristics that will be crucial for the Middle Tennessee defense this year.
Though he said he can be a vocal leader when he needs to be, he prefers to lead by example. That’s what he tried to do last season though he knew he wouldn’t be on the field much during games.
“I really just have to provide leadership,” Harges said. “We have a lot of freshmen, so I have to lead by telling them what to do and how to do it. That helps them a lot.”
No linebacker on the Blue Raiders’ roster this season has ever started a game for the Middle Tennessee defense. With that inexperience, Nix said the group will have to get the most out of every rep, and every extra rep they can get is welcomed. Having a guy like Harges who knows the playbook and has prepared for big games will be critical.
“Overall, you gain a lot of experience from actually playing in the game, but he was fortunate enough even with his injury to practice with us and prepare just like he was getting ready to play each week,” Nix said. “Every rep is irreplaceable. I think he’s in position to help run the defense this year.”
MTSU opens their season at home Saturday September 3rd at home.