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Nebraska Spring Football Preview: Inside Linebackers

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Some returning experience. Some exciting new faces. What will we get out of this group in 2021?

Jon Johnston

Check out all of the other spring position previews!

Position Coach

Ruuuuuuuuuuuud!!!!!

Breakdown by Class

Seniors - 1

Juniors - 2

Sophomores - 4

Redshirt freshmen - 5

Freshmen - 8 (three are 2020 freshmen and five are 2021 freshmen)

Departed

Collin Miller - medical retirement

Incoming

The new face with the greatest potential to see the field quickly is graduate transfer Chris Kolarevic. He is listed as a junior on the roster and comes to Nebraska from FCS Northern Iowa (Scott Frost was once the co-defensive coordinator at Northern Iowa early in his coaching career). Kolarevic was a two-year starter for UNI (2018 & 2019) and notched 144 tackles, including 9.5 tackles for loss, with 2.0 sacks, two interceptions and five pass breakups. He did not play for UNI in 2020 as the FCS is playing their 2020 season right now (spring 2021).

As mentioned above, there are five incoming freshman for 2021 as part of an exciting recruiting class for Nebraska. Those are Randolph Kpai, Seth Malcom, Wynden Ho’ohuli, and Mkai Gbayor along with walkon Grant Buda. Most of these recruits were listed as inside LBs by some recruiting services and outside LBs by others, but they are all on Nebraska’s roster as ILBs (Buda at LB), so they are part of this preview.

Kpai comes out of South Dakota as a four-star prospect (24/7 rating) and three-star on Rivals. Kpai is on the roster at 6’3” and 185 lbs. He is going to need a lot of time with Zach Duval in the weight room to play Big Ten ball. Gbayor is from New Jersey and the one in this recruiting class who was listed as an ILB by both Rivals and 24/7. He was a three-star recruit. Seth Malcom is a three star out of Iowa. Wynden Ho’ohuli is the crown jewel of the recruiting class - a four star recruit (by both services) out of Hawai’i.

Returning Production

Three players spilit the starts in 2020. Collin Miller started four games before suffering a career-ending spinal concussion. Miller was a vocal team leader and was having a pretty good season before the injury. Luke Reimer stepped into his place in the starting lineup after filling in for one game as a starter for Honas.

Will Honas who started and played in seven games (missing the game vs Northwestern due to injury) and recorded 57 tackles (second on the team) and led the Huskers with 6.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks, setting career highs in both categories. Honas was named as an honorable-mention All-Big Ten selection and is one of the “super seniors” returning for a fifth year due to the ruling by the NCAA granting extra eligibility because of COVID.

Sophomore Luke Reimer battled some injuries early in the season but played in six games and started five. He pulled down 40 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks, ranking second on the team in sacks and third in TFLs.

The players who appeared in games behind Miller, Honas and Reimer were redshirt freshmen Nick Henrich and Garrett Snodgrass - both Nebraska natives and scholarship players. Juco transfer Eteva Mauga-Clements played in all eight games on special teams (He wins the “hair” award for Huskers.com bio pics). Jackson Hannah made the travel squad for three road games as a redshit freshman, but did not see game action. No one else on the roster played in a game or was selected to the travel squad in 2020.

Looking Ahead to 2021

If I had to guess, the majority of the starts will be manned by Honas and Reimer with Kolarevic, Henrich and Snodgrass providing competition for those spots. Mauga-Clements could turn his special teams experience into defensive snaps as well. Even though Kolarevic is coming in from FCS football, he played in the rugged Missouri Valley conference (yes, the one with the two Dakotas). While I won’t pretend the Missouri Valley is on par with the Big Ten, Kolarevic is impressing his teammates and coaches. He also provides an upperclassman in the room and someone with extensive game experience.

Depth has been an issue at this position during Frost’s tenure and it appears that (barring injury or more weirdness) that Nebraska should have some bodies in 2021. Not only bodies, but players with enough experience and talent to allow the youngsters to toil in the weight room and not be pressed into service before they are physically ready to play in the Big Ten. In a couple of years, Nebraska will hopefully reach Scott Frost’s desired goal of “getting old and staying old” at this position.

Roster

2021 Inside Linebackers

# Name Height Weight Year Hometown
# Name Height Weight Year Hometown
42 Nick Henrich 6-4 225 R-Fr. Omaha, Neb. / Burke
46 Grant Buda 6-0 205 Fr. Lincoln, Neb. / Southwest
3 Will Honas 6-1 230 Sr. Wichita, Kan. / Bishop Carroll HS/Butler CC
10 Jackson Hannah 6-3 220 R-Fr. Nashville, Tenn. / Montgomery Bell Academy
14 Mikai Gbayor 6-2 220 Fr. Irvington, N.J. / Irvington
18 Wynden Ho'ohuli 6-3 220 Fr. Mililani, Hawaii / Mililani
19 Seth Malcom 6-3 205 Fr. Tabor, Iowa / Fremont-Mills
22 Eteva Mauga-Clements 6-2 220 Jr. Pleasant Hill, Calif. / College Park HS/Diablo Valley CC
25 Zach Schlager 6-0 220 So. McCook, Neb. / McCook HS/Colorado State
28 Luke Reimer 6-1 220 So. Lincoln, Neb. / North Star
30 Randolph Kpai 6-3 185 Fr. Sioux Falls, S.D. / Washington
31 Chris Kolarevic 6-1 230 Jr. Traverse City, Mich. / Saint Francis HS/Northern Iowa
39 Garrett Hustedt 6-2 230 R-Fr. Omaha, Neb. / Mount Michael Benedictine
41 Garrett Snodgrass 6-3 225 R-Fr. York, Neb. / York
51 Braden Klover 6-1 225 Fr. Wymore, Neb. / Southern
53 Jake Archer 6-0 215 So. Omaha, Neb. / Skutt Catholic
56 Grant Tagge 6-2 200 Fr. Omaha, Neb. / Westside
57 Drew Monin 6-2 240 Fr. Atlanta, Ga. / Old Farms Prep (Avon, Conn.)
58 Chris Cassidy 6-1 225 So. Lincoln, Neb. / Pius X
59 Caden McCormack 6-0 235 R-Fr. Lincoln, Neb. / Southwest