The Nebraska Cornhuskers were lucky the past two seasons. Coach Bo Pelini found a steal in Lavonte David, who turned into one of the best linebackers in school history, has taken his game to the NFL, being drafted in the second round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, following in the footsteps of former Husker Barrett Ruud.
For Nebraska, both Sean Fisher and Will Compton came on strong last season. Last season, Compton racked up 82 tackles and half a sack, and really played well late last year. Compton has been a vocal leader this off-season and will be on during the season.
But besides those two, who will be with the Huskers?
Zaire Anderson is trying to follow in the footsteps of David. For those who did not know, David arrived in Lincoln during fall camp during his junior season, without a spring or summer camp with the team. Now that Anderson has arrived, he has the skills to start. In two seasons at junior college, Anderson had 187 tackles, 16 sacks, and 34 tackles for loss.
Alonso Whaley has put in his time in Lincoln and is hoping to impress the coaches enough to earn the starting gig, but he will have to hold out some strong, upcoming players.
Trevor Roach played sparingly, but when he did, his impact was everywhere. I never understood why he was not on the field more, perhaps because he was so young. Maybe he was not as familiar with the system as Pelini had wanted. But with the Huskers needing more physical bodies in the B1G 10, Roach could be that guy.
Michael Rose, who I’ve highlighted before, has been called by scouts the “next Lavonte David.” Rose has been called big, fast, strong, and knowledgable by many of the top evaluators of high school talent. Wether or not Rose is able to make the starting lineup depends on how fast he picks up the system.
Regardless of who plays, how will the Huskers play this season? In their standard 4-3, the Husker linebackers have a tough task, having to cover their porous defensive line (at least last season) while also helping out their less experienced defensive backs (more on that later this week).
One problem the Huskers had last season was, at times, they had to go to the peso defense. That usually involved bringing in somebody like Lance Thorell to play a hybrid linebacker/cornerback position. Thorell was not fast enough to stay with slot receivers, nor big enough to cover opposing tight ends. The Huskers lack of physicality should be less of a problem this season and into the future, when they continue to recruit bigger players.
When the Huskers play a running quarterback, they will have to play a spy defense. To that end, I think Anderson this season, and Rose the next, should be that player. Both have great speed and football awareness. They take great angles and are rarely out of position.
With 31 days until kickoff, it is time for football season to begin.