LEWISBURG, Pa. – Bucknell’s success on defense begins with the defensive line, and the defensive line’s success begins with one player in particular.

“It all starts with Abdullah Anderson,” said head coach Joe Susan. “He has the potential to be the best defensive lineman in the Patriot League."

And that's because Anderson never takes any rep or drill off. At the end of a long practice on August 8, the Bison lined up in the end zone for the shuttle run. When it came time for his group to go, Anderson exploded off the line and never slowed down, ultimately finishing the drill first.

Anderson, a STATS Preseason All-American, enters his senior campaign with 129 tackles (76 solo), 24.5 tackles for a loss, 13.0 sacks (11 solo) and three blocked kicks. A three-time All-Patriot League pick who was tabbed to the first team in 2015 and 2016, he is the only senior who has started all 33 games over the past three seasons.

In 2016, Anderson finished second in the Patriot League in tackles for a loss (13.5) and third in sacks (8.5). Nationally, he was tied for eighth in blocked kicks (2) and tied for 12th in sacks per game (.86).

"Nobody can block him," Susan said. "He’s talented as an inside guy, and we’re going to use him on the outside in certain situations. He makes our guys better, from his fellow linemen to the linebackers and secondary."

Bucknell will need to replace Troy Glenn, R.J. Sheldon and Doug Whitlock, who each started at least nine games a year ago. Susan believes Trevor Fennimore, Blake Fletcher and Alex Jordan will step into their spots after spending 2016 in the rotation.

“Alex could be an outstanding player and complement Abdullah so he’s not always double teamed,” Susan said. “Blake is very athletic and quick while Trevor is a senior who’s played a lot for us and brings great experience.”

Jordan had seized the starting job at nose guard when he was injured in Bucknell's game at No. 9 Charleston Southern. Now fully healthy, he's looking forward to taking on an expanded role in 2017. 

"I feel as strong as I ever was," he said. "I went back home, worked with some guys from the NFL to get back on my feet. I'm ready to come back and make a difference. Abdullah and I can be a one-two kind of punch."

Other defensive linemen high up in the preseason depth chart include Craig Cassidy, a former fullback, John Hunt, Sean Naiman and Jimmy Sheehan.

"This is going to be one of the least experienced lines we've had in the past few years," said assistant head coach Matt Borich. "There are a lot of younger guys who are going to end up stepping up and playing a lot of snaps for us. It's a young group, but it's an exciting group. We're going to remain really aggressive. We're going to do what we always do: attack up front and do everything we can to disrupt the offense."

NOTES: Scouts from the Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins attended practice on August 8 ... Bucknell carries 15 defensive linemen, the most of any single position group ... The unit includes three seniors, three juniors, four sophomores and five freshmen ... Borich, a standout defensive lineman for the Bison from 1997 to 2000, will continue to work with the line in 2017 ... Anderson is one of only two seniors to play in all 33 games, joining cornerback Trey Johnson ... Anderson was a force in 11-on-11 play, breaking into the back field with regularity to collect tackles for a loss ... Beyond Anderson, only Fennimore (2) and Jordan (1) have at least one start ... Fletcher and Roger Mellado consistently came off the edge to make plays in 11-on-11 play ... Borich noted Nick Zarkoski has done a "good job of making people miss" ... Borich praised the younger players, saying they've made tremendous progress thus far: "The freshmen come in and have to learn an entirely new language as part of our defense. I'm looking for them to fix their technique and have our systems click, and so far I'm seeing that happening."

Past Position Previews:

Cornerback (Aug. 3)

Running Back (Aug. 7)