Before the season opener, here’s a first look at who will be playing defense for Loyola. Pictured above is senior inside linebacker Graham Repp.

LINE

position coach: Beau Desherow

Vito Cannizzaro, sr., 6-1/235, end

Coach’s comment: Vito is a versatile and consistent player that can play inside and outside. He worked extremely hard during summer camp and has put himself in position to be a key contributor to the defensive line.

Marty Geary, jr., 6-3/255, tackle

Coach’s comment: Marty saw action last year as a blocking back in our Wildcat package. This summer, Marty made a smooth transition from offense to defense. He possesses the size and athleticism to be very productive in our defensive system.

Matt Gordon, sr., 6-1/240, end

Coach’s comment: Matt is a very versatile player and can play all three defensive line positions. He could be the most explosive player on the defensive line and has big-play potential.

Omar Mendez, sr., 6-3/260, nose guard

Coach’s comment: Omar is very stout at the point of attack and is improving on his pass rush skills. He is one of the strongest players on the team and is looking to have a breakout senior season.

+++

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

position coach: Mike Dooley

John Costello, jr., 6-0/200, Will linebacker

Coach’s comment: He’s a physical and tough player. He’s willing to make the sacrifices that allow him to make plays. But he’s still learning the position.

Tomas Henning, sr., 6-0/200, Sam linebacker

Coach’s comment: He’s physical and covers ground well. He’s new to the position after playing running back in the past, so it’s been a learning process for him. He’s only been with us since July.

Mickey Kane, sr., 6-2/220, Will linebacker

Coach’s comment: He’s an excellent athlete and a great pass rusher. He really understands the position and what we expect out of him. He can cover, play man-to-man, play zone. He’s a terrific, terrific outside backer.

Anthony Rodriguez, jr., 6-1/195, Sam linebacker

Coach’s comment: He’s an excellent athlete and one of the fastest kids on the team. He runs track and plays basketball. The only thing keeping him off the field is mental mistakes, but he’s getting it more and more every day.

Peter Kennedy, jr., 5-11/180, Sam linebacker

Coach’s comment: He’s smart and savvy. He’s a little smaller, so it makes it more difficult for him to play our brand of football. But he plays hard and is always in position. He is someone you can depend on.

+++

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

position coach: John Holecek

Graham Repp, sr., 6-0/200, Mike linebacker

Coach’s comment: He’s smart, athletic and productive. Graham usually is in the correct spot and knows how to help others around him on the field. He started every game as a junior but one when he was sick. He communicates and leads well. He plays as big as needed on the field.

Anthony Romano, sr., 6-2/220, Mike linebacker

Coach’s comment: He’s tough and hard-nosed. He’s a physical throwback player that had a huge junior year. He should have another huge impact on the field through his leadership and play.

+++

SECONDARY

position coaches: Pete Devine/Tim Feldheim

Jake Gonzalez, so., 6-2/185, safety

Devine’s comment: He’s fast and long. He’s been a great kid to coach. He really cares about getting better. He will make some mental mistakes because of his age, but he will learn from them. It’s rare that we will start a sophomore in the secondary. He’s the first one since Anthony Fassett did in 2007.

Charlie Largay, jr. 5-10/175, cornerback/safety

Devine’s comment: He’s our most consistent defensive back. He’s a smart kid, and he’s tough. He’s versatile, too. We can use him at corner or at safety. He’s earned a look at both positions.

Ryan Lin-Peistrup, sr., 5-11/175, cornerback

Devine’s comment: He’s a great athlete, a star shortstop on the baseball team. He has great hand-eye coordination. He’s injured right now, and we don’t know when he will be back. We like his size and toughness at corner. He made a real commitment to football in the summer.

Mark Nicholson, sr., 6-1/185, safety

Devine’s comment: He was a wide receiver last year, but he was stuck behind some really good players. We asked him to take a look at playing safety this summer. He’s made a lot of improvements and done a lot of good things.

Ian Swenson, sr., 6-2/187, cornerback

Devine’s comment: We are a young group, so his experience and leadership alone are huge. He’s also very athletic. He’s long and big. Having that big body at corner gives us a lot of freedom to do other things on defense.

Jack Walker, sr., 5-11/185, safety

Devine’s comment: He’s a strong safety, but he can play both safety positions. We like that he’s been a safety in our program since freshman year. He’s heady, and he knows where to be on the field. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.

+++

PUNTER

Mark Nicholson, sr., 6-1/185

Holecek’s comment: Has above average leg strength and athleticism, which makes for a good combination as a punter. He played and contributed as a wide receiver last year before moving to strong safety. He improved in all facets and compete for a starting safety position by the end of the year.

Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola