Will Banker bring back Blackshirts of old?

Toughness. Athleticism. Football instincts. That is what Mark Banker looks for in his defensive players.

New Nebraska defensive coordinator Mark Banker has to be excited. The caliber of player he can recruit has upgraded significantly as he transitioned from Oregon State to Nebraska.

It is the difference between building a new car on a Mercedes budget over a Ford Fusion. The question becomes, what kind of parts does he want in his car?

Banker isn’t going to reinvent the type of player he wants - he just gets better versions of what he used to work with. What is that type though? What can Nebraska fans be expecting to see when it comes to the type of defensive players the new staff will be going after?

“Toughness, athleticism, and football instincts.” Banker said, when asked what type of characteristics he likes in his player. “We can teach the skills from there. If you have those three things you can do anything with those kids.”

Every Nebraska fan that misses the toughness of the old Blackshirts have to be thrilled that it was the first word out of Banker’s mouth. Most would probably take some sloppiness, if it was accompanied with some seriously tough players. For the last several years they experienced a defensive posture that was marked more with hesitation as they over thought their role.

When Banker elaborated on athleticism, he mentioned a few specific attributes that he looks for: speed, ability to change direction, and flexible. You put a bunch of speed on the field coupled with the ability to change direction and you can get pretty good, pretty quick.

The last one he noted was “football instincts,” which he called “FBI.” He admitted this one was harder to evaluate and wasn’t quantitative. Banker said you can only observe “football instincts.” This is really the one that forces the staff to be good talent evaluators.

We see a lot of these things in the type of players the new staff went after in the 2015 class.

Take Tyrin Ferguson for example. Ferguson only has a little over one year of football under his belt, but yet he has a nose for the ball and shows good FBI. You also see his toughness and athleticism as he fights through the offensive line on consistent basis to get to the ball carrier.

Dedrick Young, Mohammad Barry, and Adrienne Talan that all posses above average speed for outside linebacker in the 4.5 range. Young’s athleticism leaps off his film as he was a two-way standout at both running back and linebacker.

It sounds great to recruit a bunch of tough, fast athletic kids with great football instinct. The question becomes can they teach and develop them well enough to bring back the Blackshirts of old?

*** Uploaded by Josh Harvey ***


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