Nebraska linebacker Chris Weber was home for Thanksgiving break when he got a phone call. On the other end of the line – head coach Mike Riley.
Weber didn’t know the call was coming. He thought it might be a possibility, especially after talking to position coach Trent Bray a few days prior.
Weber was being put on scholarship.
“Coach Bray talked with me after the Iowa game, saying he was going to ask Coach Riley his thoughts on the matter,” said Weber. “It was pretty sweet. It was great to see your hard work pay off. But at the same time, you want to make their investment pay off as well.”
As a redshirt sophomore in 2015, Weber recorded 49 tackles in 10 games, starting four times at the MIKE linebacker spot in place of injured Josh Banderas.
A former Elkhorn high school product, Weber passed on football scholarships from North Dakota, South Dakota and Northwestern Missouri State before enrolling at Nebraska as a walk-on. UNL was always his dream school, but didn’t become a possibility until he was awarded a Regents Scholarship.
According to a University of Nebraska spokesman in the Scholarship/Financial Aid office, a Regents Scholarships covers “tuition” up to 135 credit hours. No other expenses, including room and board are covered.
Now on a full scholarship with the football team, Weber doesn’t owe a dime to anyone. He’s actually making money, albeit very little, when you factor in the new stipend program.
“They were pretty proud,” said Weber when asked about his parent’s reaction. “I always wanted to tell my parents they didn’t have to pay for anything. I never wanted them taking out loans or having to put money out each year for me.”
It was last spring when Weber took a hard look at the position and realized he had a chance to make some noise. He used the Huskers’ 15 spring practices to impress the new staff, but battled a groin-injury most of the summer, delaying his development.
“Really last spring was when everything slowed down and I learned how to play,” said Weber. “It was a lot easier when things slowed down. I think the experience factor helped. I was finally getting a lot of reps. I kept getting exposed to it.”
With the goal of a scholarship now achieved, Weber says it’s time to take his game to the next level.
“The weight room as been big for me. I have been able to put on some good weight. I have been watching film with a lot of the younger guys. It’s been a good offseason,” said the junior. “I wanted to go into spring ball feeling as good as I could be and feeling like I was in my best shape. My neck thing lingered throughout the year and I wanted to get that squared away…It’s going to be nice not worrying about anything injury wise.”
A position group banged up for much of 2015, the linebacker spot will return everyone from the two-deep last season. In addition, guys like sophomore Tyrin Ferguson, who played special teams, and redshirt freshman Mohamed Barry are expected to get more reps.
“My view on the room is to try to bring as many guys to the party as we can,” said Weber. “It’s the Big Ten. Guys are going to get dinged up. Coach Bray will play as many guys who are ready to go. So our goal this spring is to get as many guys ready to play as we can. Those young guys have a lot of talent. It’s now about the reps, experience and learning how to play at the college level.”
Getting done in the classroom as well, Weber carries a 3.97 grade-point average in nutrition science according to a press release by Nebraska in November.
Nebraska currently sits at 87 players on scholarship.