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With opening at outside linebacker for Towson, Eric Handy making move from inside linebacker

With opening at outside linebacker for Towson, Eric Handy making move from inside linebacker
Rhode Island Rams quarterback Wesley McKoy eludes Towson Tigers linebacker Eric Handy (58) to run for 4 yards at Johnny Unitas Stadium on Nov. 21, 2015. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

Eric Handy knows an opportunity when he sees one.

After opening last season as a starting inside linebacker through the Towson football team's first five games, the Columbia resident and Wilde Lake graduate eventually ceded the position to then-freshman Chris Tedder, who started the final six contests. With Tedder and fellow sophomore Diondre Wallace (Arundel) returning to the two inside roles in the Tigers' 3-4 defensive scheme and redshirt junior outside linebacker James Simms (Reservoir) removed from the program, Handy agreed with the coaches' suggestion to move to the outside role.

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"Diondre and Tedder are improving every day, and it made more sense to go to the open position," he said after Wednesday's practice at Johnny Unitas Stadium. "You can sort of see the opening, but at the same time you know there's going to be competition."

Moving Handy to outside linebacker means that all four projected starting linebackers – Tedder, Wallace and redshirt senior outside linebacker Jordan Mynatt (Wilde Lake) – started at least five games last fall. That's an enviable wealth of experience in the middle portion of the defense.

The 6-foot, 248-pound Handy began working in his new spot during the spring. Although he never played outside linebacker in high school or college, he said playing inside has aided his change of position.

"There are differences, but I feel like coming from the middle makes the transition a lot easier because the middle is one of the tougher positions," he said. "You really have to know everything. On the outside, you just do your job. So I think coming from the middle helped me out a lot."

Handy said he has found that outside linebacker is a better fit for his skills.

"I'm more of a run stopper, and on the edge, it's a lot easier to set the edge on the run," he said. "So I feel a lot more comfortable there."

Towson coach Rob Ambrose said Handy, who ranked third on the team with 58 tackles last season, brings a cerebral quality to the linebacker group.

"Eric's played, I think, every position but SAM as a backer since he's been here," Ambrose said. "He knows the schemes completely. When you take those two young inside guys and [senior inside linebacker] Malik [Jackson] as a third, Eric's going, 'Well, where do I fit in?' and there's a hole on that outside. He's thinking, 'I can play this.' He's taking to it like a fish to water. He's a guy I want in there. The more he's on the field, the better we are."

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