2023 HSSN football position-by-position breakdown: Scouting the linebackers

Tuesday, August 22, 2023 | 1:12 AM

TribLive HSSN will break down the top players at one position per day until Week Zero. Here’s a look at the top linebackers for the 2023 season.

1. Cole Sullivan

Central Catholic

Senior, 6-3, 210

Sullivan had a terrific junior season and emerged as one of the state’s most disruptive linebackers. The Michigan recruit had 117 total tackles, one forced fumble and two sacks for the WPIAL Class 6A runners-up, despite playing part of the season with a cast on his right hand. He earned first-team all-conference and all-state honors. Rivals.com ranks him as the 36th-best outside linebacker prospect in the country. He received around two dozen college offers, including Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Utah and others. He also plays tight end. Last winter, he started for a Central Catholic basketball team that won a WPIAL title.

Watch Cole Sullivan highlights

2. Anthony Speca

Central Catholic

Senior, 6-2, 220

The Penn State recruit is a four-year starter and a leader in the middle of the Central Catholic defense. He’s already played in the WPIAL finals three times and could lead the team back again. He and Sullivan work well together and form a tremendous tandem. Speca made 122 total tackles last season, forced three fumbles and intercepted a pass. He earned second-team all-conference honors. Rivals.com ranks him as the 11th-best inside linebacker prospect nationally. He received around two dozen college offers including Pitt and West Virginia, along with Florida State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan and LSU, among others.

Watch Anthony Speca highlights

3. Cameron Lindsey


Senior, 6-2, 210

The Pitt recruit is a three-year starter and has played in consecutive state championship games. He had 97 total tackles and forced three fumbles for a defense that gave up only 8.7 points per game against WPIAL opponents. He was voted first team all-conference and all-state. The Quips are two-time defending WPIAL champions and won a state title in 2021. They were the state runners-up last season. Rivals.com ranks Lindsey as the 23rd-best outside linebacker recruit nationally. He had around a dozen college offers including Penn State and West Virginia. He scored five offensive TDs for the Quips last season, three rushing and two receiving.

Watch Cameron Lindsey highlights

4. Tyreé Alualu

North Allegheny

Senior, 6-0, 216

Alualu already is a two-time all-conference inside linebacker for the Tigers, who won a WPIAL Class 6A title last year. He contributed to the championship season with 61 tackles, including 11 for a loss, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. The NA defense held opponents to 13 points per game. He’s received college offers from more than a dozen schools including Oregon, San Diego State, Navy, Temple and Cincinnati, among others. He is the son of former Steelers defensive lineman Tyson Alualu.

Watch Tyree Alualu highlights

5. Dayshaun Burnett

Imani Christian

Junior, 6-4, 220

Burnett already had an all-conference season as a sophomore, yet his ceiling for growth this fall could be higher than almost anyone’s. He had 55 tackles a year ago, including 11 for a loss, and three sacks. He also recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown. Rivals.com ranks him as the state’s top linebacker prospect in the junior class. He already has college offers from Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, Michigan, Michigan State, Kentucky, Duke and others. He was a 1,000-yard passer as Imani’s quarterback last season, highlighting his athleticism.

Watch Dayshaun Burnett highlights

One to watch

Colsen Gatten

Central Catholic

Sophomore, 6-2, 210

Yes, the Vikings are loaded at linebacker. Gatten is just starting 10th grade and already lists college offers from Pitt, Penn State, Wisconsin and Nebraska. He played some tight end as a freshman for the varsity team and caught a 34-yard pass in the WPIAL finals. His father, Aaron Gatten, was a three-sport WPIAL standout at Washington who later played linebacker for Penn State.

Watch Colsen Gatten highlights

• • • • •

Position breakdowns

QB | RB | WR | OL | TE | DL | LB | CB | S | K

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Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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