#8 | 6'1, 245, Sr. | Dallas, TX
2009: 12 games, 8.0 tackles, 1.0 TFL
2011: 13 games, 9.5 tackles, 2 FF, 1 QB hurry
2012: 11 games, 30.5 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PBU, 4 FF, 1 QB hurry
Bill C.: Donovan Bonner's been around forever. He was thought of as the Next Sean Weatherspoon while Spoon was still on the team. (His redshirt was torn off for mop-up duty in 2009, and he missed 2010 with a knee injury.) He has waited a long time for his chance at a starting role, and now it's come.
Bonner was basically the backup at every linebacker position last year, seeing quite a few first-string reps over the course of the season. He mastered the art of the big play, picking off a pass against Georgia, making noise behind the line of scrimmage, and managing to force a perhaps unsustainable four fumbles. His challenge in his fifth year is to master the art of the mundane. He's a decent tackler, but not a great one, and opponents seem to know it. South Carolina picked on him quite a bit, dumping frequently to running backs and tight ends in his space. He made most of the tackles (he had four solos and four assists), but it only takes a couple of misses.
Regardless, Bonner is a tremendous athlete who has patiently waited in line and now gets his chance. That's pretty exciting.
MizzouRugby: Another hard hitting LB. I hope it all comes together for him in his senior year, as has the potential to be just as good as any LB on the roster.
The Beef: I just became surprised about how many seniors are on this defense. Bonner seems to be pretty entrenched at the SAM, and he will need to be one of the top tacklers on the team. Remember, last year, a LB did NOT lead the team in tackles. A testament to Big Shel, but also perhaps to how the LB group did as a whole.
countrycal: Although Bonner has not produced the same stats as Wilson, the two have been stabilizing forces for the linebacking defenders the past three years. Donovan is strong, fast, and a ball-hawking defender who knows how to close out a tackle. He and his fellow linebackers may be called on more than last year to stop opponents at the line of scrimmage, but I think they are up to it. I really like the experience at this position.