LINCOLN, Neb. - Nebraska’s starting front four is set.
The next wave of the Huskers’ defense – not yet.
While juniors Josh Banderas and Michael Rose look to be locked in as starters and as the older statesmen of the group, a battle for the WILL linebacker spot appears to be going on between sophomore Marcus Newby, redshirt freshman Luke Gifford and true freshman Dedrick Young.
“Everyday they are graded on assignment,” said linebacker coach Trent Bray after Saturday night’s practice. “It’s going to be who executes, who is executing at the highest rate and who physically has that present to make plays.
“You look at a guy like Newby, he’s really good in the box, not as good out of the box. He’s good in the box because he’s strong and powerful. Yet he’s got some speed where he can run things down.
“Dedrick can play either of them. He can play in space and he’s big enough and strong to play in the box. We like that he’s versatile like that.
“Luke gives us coverage ability. Using him in NICKEL packages and in situations where we are going against a good passing team. There are things he can do covering tight ends that the other guys can’t.”
Whoever wins the job, all three have very little to no experience at the college level when it comes to the linebacker position.
Newby redshirted his freshman year at the linebacker spot, but last season played as a rush defender off the edge.
Gifford is a converted safety, who now has only been practicing the linebacker position for 18 official practices.
Young did himself a favor enrolling early at Nebraska in the spring, giving himself a chance to make an instant impact.
Big Red Report projection: Newby started with the first-team during the Husker’s Thursday night practice the media was allowed to attend. We wouldn’t be surprised to see him locked in as a starter at the beginning of the year. But, we think Young will eventually get a starting spot during the fall.