If there was one group that, defensively, was a stalwart of consistency throughout the season, it was the linebacking crew of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Ross Els, who was not thought of highly by either fans nor players, was dismissed when Bo Pelini was dismissed as well. In came Trent Bray to interject energy and hope into the group.
That hope was damaged when injuries and suspensions seemed to brutalize the group. Josh Banderas and Michael Rose-Ivey, who were going to be counted on to help out the group, couldn't stay on the field for one reason or another. There was a slight dropoff, but the fact that guys like Marcus Newby, Luke Gifford and Dedrick Young kept the group afloat speaks just as much about Bray's coaching abilities than anything.
Young was a project last year, and seemed to have his moments both ways. Banderas seemed to be the one that flourished with the coaching change, making it known that he would have probably left his hometown college (that his dad went to) if Els had stayed.
Now, with the way that the Huskers have stockpiled Linebackers in recruiting, it makes sense to someone that stays on the scholarship numbers that the Huskers COULD, COULD be thinking of switching to a 3-4 type of Defense. That could be also an indirect reason from the fact that Nebraska's Defensive Line recruiting was a steaming plate of nothingness last season.
With the way that Greg McMullen is being moved to the interior of the DL, along with the edge rushers that Nebraska seems to want to incorporate in this class (Marcus Newby, Quayshon Alexander) and it seems to make sense. Of course, Jon will say not no, but fuck no (!), because why change things.
The biggest upside of this group is that only one person is leaving the team, and that's due to him being a knucklehead. Another year with Trent Bray should only help this crew be the best they can be.
Adrienne Talan: Was excused out of Football activities in August, so he'll be finding another spot.
# Name Ht/Wt Year Hometown (HS)
52 Josh Banderas LB 6-3 240 Sr. Lincoln, Neb. (Southwest)
18 Mohamed Barry LB 6-1 220 RFr. Grayson, Ga. (Grayson)
53 Alex Boryca LB 6-2 220 RFr. Cozad, Neb. (Cozad)
51 Jared Brugmann LB 6-2 235 RFr. Gretna, Neb. (Gretna)
59 Brody Cleveland LB 6-2 225 RFr. Ogallala, Neb. (Ogallala)
26 Thomas Connely LB 5-11220 So. Kearney, Neb. (Kearney Catholic)
43 Tyrin Ferguson LB 6-2 225 So. New Orleans, La. (Edna Karr)
12 Luke Gifford LB 6-3 230 So. Lincoln, Neb. (Southeast)
37 Noah Lazaro LB 6-2 225 RFr. Lincoln, Neb. (Lincoln Southwest)
3 Marcus Newby LB 6-1 235 Jr. North Potomac, Md. (Quince Orchard)
15 Michael Rose-Ivey LB 5-11 240 Sr. Kansas City, Mo. (Rockhurst)
56 Brad Simpson LB 6-0 230 Sr. Omaha, Neb. (Ralston)
49 Chris Weber LB 6-3 230 Jr. Omaha, Neb. (Elkhorn)
57 Jacob Weinmaster LB 6-0 215 RFr. Loveland, Colo. (Loveland)
5 Dedrick Young LB 6-1 220 So. Peoria, Ariz. (Centennial)
JoJo Domann (could project to Safety, but LB seems more likely)
Greg Simmons (Middle/Inside LB)
Collin Miller (Outside LB/DE hybrid)
Pernell Jefferson (Outside LB/DE hybrid)
Looking Ahead To 2016:
Trent Bray just got a big healthy raise and extension to stay with Mike Riley's staff, and it's not hard to see that with his coaching and recruiting efforts, he could be the heir apparent to Mark Banker as Nebraska Defensive Coordinator. With that energy, expect this group to get better.
With the youth and injury issues that the Huskers have faced, this group is young but has become battle tested. Look for not only Banderas and MRI (health permitting) to have big seasons, but also for guys like Mo Barry, Ferguson and even Greg Simmons to get into games and get better. Dedrick Young is a guy who we'll all be watching for to take a big step as well.
Nebraska is going to depend on the LB crew to help out with so many questions both in front and behind them. Is it too much to ask this group to lead the team? We'll find out early enough with Oregon coming to town.