Like Ndamukong Suh, Lavonte David is not eligible for nomination.
There have been some greats at linebacker, yet Nebraska has never been known as a "linebacker U" type school. That's not all surprising when you consider that throughout the Tom Osborne era, Nebraska wasn't known as much for its defense as much as Osborne's offense.
Nebraska's linebackers tend to be defined by the decade in which they played. The 60s featured Jerry Murtaugh, who played from 1968-1970, earning First-Team All-Big Eight honors in 1969 and 1970. In 1970 he was the Big Eight Player of the Year, and gained All-America status. Murtaugh was the career tackle leader until Barrett Ruud broke his record in 2004 and his 132 tackles in 1970 remains sixth for single-season tackles.
Marc Munford and Broderick Thomas were the linebackers of the 1980s. Munford lead the Huskers in tackles for three seasons, finishing his career eighth on the career tackle list. He was a three-time All-Big Eight selection (1984, 1985, 1986).
Thomas, nicknamed "The Sandman", was named First-Team All-Big Eight in 1986, 1987, and 1988. He earned Big Eight Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1988. Thomas was ferocious as an outside linebacker, and unlike most of Osborne's players, knew how to run his mouth. It was refreshing having a guy who would publicly talk a little smack, something you haven't seen very often from a Nebraska player.
The 90s featured Ed Stewart and Trev Alberts.
Stewart played on the 1994 national title team, and earned First-Team All-America status, First-Team All-Big Eight and was the Big Eight Defensive Player of the Year.
There was a period during which Alberts became my favorite Husker player. Alberts played outside linebacker on the 1993 team, the team that lost 18-16 to Florida State in the 1994 Orange Bowl in which the refs made just about every call they could in favor of Charlie Ward and the Seminoles (the William Floyd fumble at the goal line still hangs on my bathroom door).
Alberts was a terror that season, becoming the first and only Husker linebacker to win the Dick Butkus Award. He was the Big Eight Defensive Player of the Year and the Big Eight Male Athlete of the Year. He also tied Jim Skow's record for single season sacks with 15.
The 2000s (other than 2001) aren't known as a great period in Husker football, but Barrett Ruud was a stand out. Ruud lead the team in tackles in 2003 and again in 2004, and in 2004 set the record as Nebraska's all-time tackle leader with 432 tackles. He had 218 solo tackles and 214 assisted. He was never selected as a First-Team All-American, but he did make First Team All-Big 12 in 2004.
The funniest thing I remember about Ruud was the complaint from some Husker fans that he was too slow to be playing linebacker. Yet, here he was making all those tackles. Then it was "he'll never play in the NFL" and Ruud went on to play in all 16 games as a rookie for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, ultimately becoming their starting linebacker. On April 6th, 2012, he signed with the Seattle Seahawks. Not bad for a guy who couldn't play in the big league.
It's not that I don't think Nebraska had some worthy linebackers, but given that we're restricted to five nominees amongst the categories, a Husker linebacker isn't going to be one of the nominees.
I am interested in hearing whom, besides Lavonte David, you would consider the best linebacker in Cornhusker history. I would pick Alberts, the school's only Butkus winner.
About the SB Nation College Football Hall of Fame
SB Nation is starting its own College Football Hall of Fame. Here's how it works:
For players or inactive coaches, the nominee should have been out of college for four full years. The first class will cover players and coaches who finished their career from 1962 through 2007 (bowls of January 2008). The other option for active coaches OR coaches who haven't been inactive for four years is that they were at their current position for at least five seasons. (Position, NOT school.)
Each SB Nation college site will come up with up to five nominees from these 10 categories suggested: QB, RB, WR, TE, OL, DL, LB, DB, ST, Coach.