Chris Dierks, Senior Staff WriterClayton Mullins (9) and Dontae Wright (37) converge on fellow linebacker Joey Hudson (48) after an interception. (Michael Pickering)Amidst a sea of red and white practice jerseys, Dontae Wright's plain black jersey stands out like a sore thumb. Opposite Clayton Mullins and stacked next to Joey Hudson - both wearing ragged red jerseys - Miami's three starting linebackers don't all look exactly the same. But watch the way they play and you'll notice a common thread: These boys hit, tackle and play hard, really hard.Coming into the 2006 campaign, the RedHawks' linebacker corps was all but completely decimated by graduation, which took five seniors who all played key roles in 2005, including fifth-round NFL draft pick Terna Nande. Looking to 2006, the coaches and the players knew the task that lay before them - training and preparing a young and inexperienced linebacker group."I think the biggest thing we've done with the young linebacking corps is just have them play hard," said linebacker coach Craig Auckerman. "That's the biggest thing on defense. If you play hard, things will happen ... They're doing a real good job of just picking up our scheme."Auckerman also noted the dedication that his linebackers have shown in game preparation and in the understanding of the defense."They've been very responsive (to the defense). They're young and they want to learn, and that's the key thing," Auckerman said. "Too many guys get in there and think they know everything. These guys want to get in there and learn every single day. I think that really helps them learn the scheme of our defense."Miami defensive coordinator and former linebacker Taver Johnson also feels that his young defense, especially his linebackers, are coming along nicely."I think they've adjusted well," Johnson said. "The one thing about our scheme is that we try to keep it very simple. That way when a guy has been in the system for four or five years, they really have it down ... And we've got some smart guys; not only book smart, but football smart too. The main thing at that spot is just experience."Johnson also hammered home a point that because of his experiences as a linebacker, his linebackers are taught and coached to play like they're superhuman."That's the one thing I tell them, they're not human," Johnson said. "That's a disadvantage they have because I played the position. I was always coached that way, and we coach that way, coach Auckerman and myself. Those guys have to be supermen. ... We truly try to teach them and coach them in a way that they got to be supermen, they've got to make plays, they got to get off three or four blocks at a time and all those things because in a 4-3 defense, your linebackers have to be playmakers."Looking more like Achilles in body armor than Superman with a cape and tights, the linebacker corps of Miami views their task and their future as though it is theirs to mold and nurture. Wright, the lone senior of the group, has been very impressed with the progress and maturity that his counterparts have made in the last few weeks."They're not as young as they were in the beginning," Wright said. "I mean they're already grown up. We've got people that can make plays. That's all that matters to me."Sophomore Mullins knew coming into the season what the situation was, but didn't feel unprepared, thanks to the upperclassmen from the previous year."We just had to grow up quick," Mullins said. "We had to step up and know we had to make the plays and be ready right away."Addressing critics of the defense, the guys take on the censuring and criticism but also see it as a point for motivation."I don't think it's an excuse for us to say that we're young anymore," Hudson said. "We've played two Big Ten teams, and we've stepped up as a defense and we're getting better each week."We try not to listen as much," Wright said. "Yes, we want all our fans base and all that, but what matters is that we believe in each other here."Despite all the pressures, stresses, strains and agonies of being a varsity football player, this linebacker corps goes home at the end of the day loving what they do."I love how I get to line up five yards away from a guy across the line and get to get a running head start and hit him," Hudson said.Mullins and Wright agreed that their favorite part was that they know that they're the best athletes on the field."Being the most athletic players on the field is the best part of being a linebacker," Wright said. "We have to be the best athletes on the field because we have to bang with the big guys, 300 pound linemen and run with the wide receivers and the running backs."Chris Shula, a sophomore who sees regular action in the linebacker rotation, finds that the best part of being a RedHawk linebacker is more about fun."(It's) being out there, having fun, making plays and celebrating with the guys," Shula said. "That's the best part." While the RedHawks have not had the best of luck in their first four games, the linebacker corps wouldn't let you know it. With every snap at practice, someone gets hit. With every pass thrown, all three fly to the ball and hit someone. Every time the scout team tries to run, one of them is in their face and of course they hit. But then again, that is their business - intensity and pain.