Schedule Scouting: LB

Come inside for an in-depth look at the top linebackers the Huskers will face this season.

The Linebackers
September 1st – Southern Mississippi
Player: Dylan Reda

A big question for Southern Miss will be at the linebacker position. In the 4-2-5 scheme, the Golden Eagles value speed over size, a trait that is especially evident at the linebacker position. Six-foot-2, 219-pound Alan Howze, a converted running back, has been a career backup during his time at Southern Mississippi. Dylan Reda will be the likely starter at weakside linebacker and will act as more of a run-stopping threat.

September 8th – UCLA
Player: Damien Holmes

When healthy, the Bruins linebacker corps is a solid bunch. A 3-4 scheme was installed during the Spring and a recent position change by Damien Holmes should add some depth at the outside linebacker position. Holmes, who lined up as a defensive end in 2011, has become noticeably leaner since arriving on campus and will provide some explosive pass rushing abilities from the outside. He will be inexperienced at his new position, but that's a risk linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich is willing to take.

September 15th – Arkansas State
Player: Eddie Porter

Head coach Gus Malzahn was looking to replace star linebacker DeMario Davis when he lured JUCO transfer Eddie Porter. Regarded as one of the top JUCO linebackers, Porter will have some big shoes to fill as his predecessor just signed a four-year deal with the New York Jets.

September 29th – Wisconsin
Player: Chris Borland and Mike Taylor

When Big Ten play starts on Sept. 29, the Huskers will arguably be facing one of the best linebacking tandems in the country. Chris Borland, last year's first-team All-Big Ten linebacker, racked up 143 tackles (19 for loss), forced five fumbles, and added two interceptions to his resume. Despite the fact that he's a bit undersized, Borland exhibits a high level of speed, physicality, and displays excellent awareness at the middle linebacker position. Rex Burkhead and the Husker offensive line will have its hands full with Borland, a player who ought to be contending for All-American consideration in 2012.

Wisconsin's other first-team All-Big Ten Linebacker, Mike Taylor, should be another reason Burkhead and Co. pay close attention to the Badgers. Taylor led the Big Ten with 150 total tackles last season, 14 of which came against the Cornhuskers.

October 6th – Ohio State
Player: Etienne Sabino and Curtis Grant

The Buckeye linebackers were arguably the weakest links in 2011, which is odd due to Ohio State's talented linebacker corps. The talent is surely there, yet the hype has vastly outweighed the on-field production thus far. Five-star recruits Curtis Grant and Etienne Sabino were No. 1 and No. 2 overall prospects at their position when recruited by the Buckeyes, yet their production up to this point has been nonexistent. If those two start living up to hype, Buckeye Nation could potentially start two All-Big Ten linebackers. If not, they could be in for another frustrating season. The latter scenario sounds more likely.

October 20th – Northwestern
Player: David Nwabuisi

Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald, a two time Big Ten Defensive Player of Year at Northwestern, is still looking for his go-to-guy at the linebacker position. At 6-foot, 230-pounds, Damien Proby has impressed Fitzgerald despite his small stature. While Proby is only a sophomore, teammate David Nwabuisi should take on more of a leadership role. Regardless, linebacker will remain an issue that Coach Fitzgerald needs to address in order to achieve future success.

October 27th – Michigan
Player: Kenny Demens and Jake Ryan

Coming into last fall, progress was imperative for the Wolverine defense. Thanks in part to Kenny Demens, the Wolverine linebacker unit made monumental strides in 2011—an upgrade that played a huge role in Michigan's Sugar Bowl run. As the leader, Demens became a force in the middle while recording 94 tackles and three sacks. At 6-foot-1, 248-pounds, he looks poised to lead one of the top defenses in the Big Ten.

And you can't mention the Spartan linebacker corps without talking about Max Bullough. Although he will only be a junior in 2012, Bullough has already proved his worth at the middle linebacker position. In 2011, he recorded 89 tackles (seven for loss), 3.5 sacks, six QB hurries, and two forced fumbles.

November 3rd – Michigan State
Player: Denicos Allen and Max Bullough

Like Wisconsin, the Spartan linebacker corps is shaping up to become one of the nation's best in 2012. Denecios Allen, a second-team All-Big Ten linebacker, racked up 83 tackles last fall and finished second in the Big Ten with 11 sacks. The 5-foot-11, 232-pound strongside linebacker is every offensive tackles nightmare. Husker QB Taylor Martinez should see a lot of Allen on __ as the Spartans love sending him off the edge on outside blitzes. He finished fourth in the conference last year with 18.5 tackles. And you can't mention the Spartan linebacker corps without talking about Max Bullough. Although he will only be a junior in 2012, Bullough has already proved his worth at the middle linebacker position. In 2011, he recorded 89 tackles (seven for loss), 3.5 sacks, six QB hurries, and two forced fumbles.

November 10th – Penn State
Player: Gerald Hodges and Glenn Carson

There has been some debate as of late as to which school truly deserves the nickname "Linebacker U". Historically, Penn St. lays claim to the name but many would argue that Miami, Florida State, and USC deserve some love as well.

The debate, once again, should be in favor of Penn State this fall as Gerald Hodges anchored one of the nation's top defenses in 2011. The 6-foot-3, 234-pound junior finished the season with 106 tackles and 4.5 sacks and will undoubtedly be one of the top three outside linebackers taken in the 2013 NFL Draft. Once ranked as's No. 4 safety, it is Hodges' speed, strength, and coverage ability that sets him apart from other linebacker. The second-team All-Big Ten linebacker's 40-yard dash has been clocked at a remarkable 4.48

November 17th – Minnesota
Player: Mike Rallis

Minnesota's defensive struggles will likely carry over into 2012, but when you return a guy like Mike Rallis, there is some reason for hope. Last year, he recorded 83 tackles and was one of the few bright spots on a fragile defense. If the Gophers could recruit a few more players like Rallis, Gopher Nation could expect more than three wins per season.

November 23rd – Iowa
Player: James Morris and Christian Kirksey

Next fall will mark James Morris's third year in charge as middle linebacker at Iowa. Last year, Morris racked up 110 tackles and one interception for the Hawkeyes. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound junior is your typical Big-Ten linebacker - tough. Morris recorded a season-high 13 tackles against the Huskers last year, a stat that is more of a tribute to Rex Burkhead's school record 38 carries. Christian Kirksey also finished the year with 110 tackles and will accompany Morris as Iowa's weakside threat.

J.C. Reid has interned for Big Red Report magazine and since December of 2011. He is currently a junior at UNL, studying Journalism.
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