Open door for Banderas

There are definitely question marks about the linebacker spots, but there is talent in the ranks including true freshman Josh Banderas, who could see himself on the field this season.

Nebraska enjoyed a team on defense that was experienced last season. At linebacker, Bo Pelini is looking to replace 27 of the combined 42 starts at the three positions. Not to mention some serious production.

GONE:

Will Compton, MIKE (Starter) – Played in 50 games starting 37 of them. 2012 leading tackler with 110 total stops and ranks 12th all-time at Nebraska.

Sean Fisher, BUCK (Starter) – Played in 39 games at Nebraska starting in 19. Fisher finished the season with 48 total tackles.

Alonzo Whaley, WILL (Starter) – Started 10 of the 36 games that he played at Nebraska. Whaley had 65 total tackles last year.

LOST TOTAL PRODUCTION:

125 total games including 66 starts. The three were the first, fourth and ninth leading tacklers on the team with 360 total tackles accounting for just short of one third of the team's overall stops last year.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

Nebraska will come back this year with potential. There is going to be some on the job training and patience will be required at times. There is talent though. It's young for the most part, the eldest is just a junior, while the other five that Big Red Report projects to the two-deep include two sophomore, two redshirt freshmen and one true freshmen.

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART:

Jared Afalava, BUCK (Starter) – Redshirted in 2012 and has the edge to start after Thomas Brown was dismissed from the team.

Zaire Anderson, WILL (Starter) – Played in three games in 2012 before a season ending knee injury and was granted a medical redshirt.

David Santos, MIKE (Starter) – Played in 13 games last year earning a start against Michigan when he had 10 of his total 24 tackles last year.

Next UP:
Josh Banderas, BUCK/WILL – A true freshman who was a U.S. Army All-American from Lincoln (Nebr.) Southwest, Banderas can probably play two linebacker spots this year, but doesn't have the game for MIKE at this point.

Michael Rose, MIKE/BUCK – Redshirted in 2012 and is key to the MIKE spot after Trevor Roach was lost for the season.

Max Pirman, BUCK – Worked the position in the spring.


That projected depth chart looks fairly solid at both the MIKE and WILL spots. Santos has a start to his credit, a 10-stop effort against Michigan, and Anderson had been playing and flashed prior to a knee injury early last year. Then there is the BUCK spot.

Afalava is a player that in 2012 many that followed recruiting were very excited about. A longer, physical linebacker that looked like a natural fit for the BUCK position at Nebraska. Afalava was as a Semper-Fi All-American his senior year.

A year in the system separates Afalava from his most likely competition in Banderas. Banderas is big and physical as well. The home grown product is the son of a former Husker, Tom Banderas, and was a U.S. Army All-American last year.


Josh Banderas
"Banderas has the skill set to play all three," said Pelini. "The hard thing about Bando is to picture how big he's going to get. Right now he's tall and lean...it's going to be interesting to see how big he gets, but he can run, so it's not going to hurt him...I think he's going to help us in a number of ways."

Banderas was a guy that might had been tough to keep off the field next year regardless of the injuries to Roach and the dismissal of Brown. Nebraska has to be looking for some ways to improve kick and punt coverage. The instate product has exceptional speed to go along with his big, powerful frame that could help out Nebraska on special teams.

Simply put players like Banderas could get valuable experience on special teams and pick up on the speed of the game. Figure to see the true freshman on the football field in the fall for Nebraska, likely at a couple different linebacker spots, and also on special teams.

*** BRR Publisher Josh Harvey contributed to this report ***

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Bryan Munson has worked with Big Red Report for 11 years covering recruiting and football and has covered Nebraska recruiting for 13 years.
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