High School: Lincoln Southwest (NE)
In six starts spread across the season, Banderas recorded 50 tackles and one quarterback hurry. His best game of the year came against USC in the Holiday Bowl. With the assurance one mistake wasn’t going to put him on the sidelines, Banderas recorded 14 tackles against the Trojans.
While Banderas was forced into MIKE action, it’s very possible the former Lincoln prep could have played the BUCK linebacker spot if Michael Rose had not gotten hurt during fall camp.
The sophomore started the year in the middle, but was eventually benched after a few missed tackles in favor of senior Trevor Roach. It was the second straight year where Banderas got the early yank. One’s confidence can’t be very high when he’s worried about getting pulled as quickly as it happened.
To the casual observer, it looked like the former high school All- American was playing to not make a mistake, instead of to make a play.
After a solid spring, Banderas says the pressure has been taken off and he can just play and have fun.
“I feel like it’s a lot easier to play. I think it’s like high school again,” said Banderas. “There is one ball and go tackle… See it go…instead of see it, think about it, and then go.
“I didn’t have the best start in the world, but I think this defense is a chance for me to get going and have a new start. We went from a dictionary to a preschool book. It’s easier to play in.
The hesitation was something his position coach Trent Bray saw as well.
“Watching him on film last year, he wasn’t quite sure of going and getting things,” said Bray. “Hey go play, don’t worry about making a mistake. If you make it, we will correct it, but I want to see you play fast. He’s really taken to it.”
BRR projection: The Nebraska linebackers have looked faster this spring, swarming to the football. Locked into the MIKE spot, it appears Banderas is the coaching staff’s guy, no matter what. We think it will give the junior quite a bit of confidence going forward. Look for him to play at the four-star level he was graded at in high school. We think fans are going to be pleasantly surprised on how much different the Lincoln native looks. Don’t be surprised if Banderas is pushing for a spot on the Big Ten All-Conference team in late November.
How he ended up in Lincoln:
A legacy recruit, Josh’s father is Tom Banderas, a former tight end in the ‘80s who recorded 10 career touchdowns.
Rated the nation’s No. 251 player by Scout.com coming out of high school, it was never really a question if Banderas would commit to Nebraska, but when?
Banderas was an Army All-American and committed to Nebraska in April of 2012. He instantly became a leader in the 2013 class. When prospects were on campus, the four-star linebacker was there with them, showing them around and chattering in their ear about becoming a Husker.
"This class is my baby. I'm excited to be able to play with guys who became my friends during the process," said Banderas at the time. "Helping out the class and bringing everyone here, it really means a lot to me."
His senior season was nothing but special. LIncoln Southwest head coach Mark King challenged Banderas to have enough stamina to play both ways during the summer months leading up to the Silver Hawks' first contest. Banderas responded to the challenge, becoming the squads workhorse on offense, while not sacrificing much on the defensive side of the football. Injuries piled up for the 2013 prospect, but he battled through them the best he could and put up big time stats on both sides of the football.