Today we’re continuing our annual top ten pre-season football players of 2016 countdown, as voted on by the BSD staff. In creating this list, we considered players’ ability, value to the team, and past performance, among other factors. We continue our countdown with Jason Cabinda.
How He Got Here:
Jason was a consensus 3-star player coming out of high school, hailing from Flemington, NJ. While he didn’t have the highest scout grades, his versatility was well-noted, and Brent Pry recruited him hard. In October 2013, he committed to Penn State, flipping from Syracuse in the process. He chose Penn State over Boston College, UConn, Maryland, UMass, Navy, BTPR, Old Dominion, Syracuse and Temple, and signed with the 2014 recruiting class – James Franklin’s first at PSU.
Cabinda appeared in 9 games as a true freshman with one start, against Illinois. His best game on the season was against Northwestern, his first appearance on the field, in which he recorded 8 total tackles. He finished the season with 17 tackles, and 0.5 tackles for loss. He was named honorable-mention Big Ten All-Freshman Team for his efforts.
In 2015, Jason was called upon to man the middle linebacker position after Nyeem Hartman-White went down in the season opener with an injury. Cabinda filled the role admirably, leading the team for the season with 100 tackles, adding 5.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble. He was named honorable mention All-Big Ten after the season.
What To Expect in 2016:
Jason returns as a veteran on the defense, and will fight through training camp to retain his position at middle linebacker – with Wartman-White recovered from his 2015 injury, it appears that the two will go head-to-head to see who captains the defense. Those two, along with Brandon Bell, are set as the surefire starters at linebacker. Unfortunately, the linebacking corps is thin on experience – true sophomores Manny Bowen and Jake Cooper figure to be the primary backups, along with senior Von Walker. It is of utmost importance that the starters stay healthy while Brent Pry and Sean Spencer break in three new starters on the defensive line. Cabinda’s age and experience will help him to lead the charge in a fast, aggressive defense, led by one of the best linebacking trios in the country.