The best linebacker I covered at USC was Chris Claiborne.
But I always say the second-best linebacker I saw was Matt Grootegoed.
He also was one of the smallest but size did not matter with Grootegoed. The reason I rate him so highly is simple: He made plays.
Grootegoed did not disappear in games. He was always around the ball. Consider that he had 41.5 tackles for loss at USC. Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing, who were deserved All-Americans, combined for 49.5 in their careers. Grootegoed also intercepted six passes in his career.
Grootegoed was an All-American but sometimes he gets forgotten when people mention Cushing, Maualuga, Clay Matthews, Keith Rivers or Lofa Tatupu.