Nebraska Spring Questions: LB

A look at a few questions regarding the linebacker position during Nebraska spring practices.

Can the position stay healthy?

Continuity was a luxury first-year position coach Trent Bray didn’t have last season. Five different linebackers started in the fall and the same three starting week to week was limited.  

“I know a lot of the guys started getting more into the nutrition side of things,” said Nebraska linebacker Josh Banderas on Wednesday. “Focusing more on eating right, cut out the Krispy Kreme and that stuff, definitely just taking care of your body, stretching-wise, doing a lot of yoga, going into the actual studio instead of bringing them here in order to get the full benefit. As far as total body health, I think that’s going to be a big factor next season in injuries.”

Does a youngster emerge?

Many eyes will gravitate towards sophomore Tyrin Ferguson in the spring, after the Louisiana native played in ten contests this past season mostly on special teams. Ferguson couldn’t crack the two-deep at middle linebacker, but bulked up over the fall. His versatility playing both inside and outside will give him a chance to make a contribution this spring.

“I know he was probably a little disappointed he didn’t see any linebacker snaps,” said Banderas. “He made a big impact on special teams and showed the coaches that he’s going to work hard and he stayed the course throughout the whole season and kept competing in the meetings and kept learning and asking the guys for advice. This will be a good time for him, he’s got a year under his belt. He’s a lot bigger than he was when he came in; a lot bigger, stronger [and] faster. These young guys in the last class have really improved in the offseason and it’s going to be really exciting what they can bring to the table.”

How much growth has Dedrick Young made?

One of the more interesting storylines in the spring will be the growth in year two of Dedrick Young. The former four-star prospect had 61 tackles as a true freshman in 2015, after enrolling early and participating in spring football. Young exceeded Bray’s expectations and has all-conference potential.

“He never gets flustered, you’ve got to force the kid to smile, he’s always just smooth all the way through,” said Banderas. “He’s really mature for being a freshman, coming in and playing all those games, but he handled it very well and he should be one of the leaders on the team no matter how young he is.”

Mohamed Barry redshirted in 2015 and spent the fall adding weight, after hitting Lincoln a bit undersized. Barry was a big recruiting win for a new staff last recruiting cycle. He came to Lincoln with big high school numbers, but played in a defense that afforded him quite a bit of freedom to make chase the football.  Barry will likely be contending for a spot on the second-team and special teams work.

“I think he’s going to do awesome,” said Banderas. “If you look at the kid, he’s a really good-sized kid. Running with him and working out with him in the off-season, he’s strong and he’s fast and he’s been the guy to text on the weekends, text some of the older guys and get in the film room and he wants to learn and do all that extra stuff. I’m really excited to see if he can put that on the field and translate all that work he put in the offseason, so it’s going to be exciting.”

Is this the year everything comes together for Josh Banderas?

A senior next fall, Josh Banderas started nine contests in 2015, battling a groin injury. The former Army All-American was still fourth on the team in tackles, with 61 on the year. At 6-foot-2, 235-pounds, Banderas has a NFL body, but is still looking to put together a clean full season. The Lincoln native has appreciated the move to Mark Banker’s defensive scheme and should be even more comfortable in year two.

“It feels more comfortable off the get go with these coaches and the new staff,” said Banderas. “They’re real easy to talk to and get along with and now after a whole year, a whole season, all these experiences and stories we have now, I guess it would be a lot more comfortable and it’s nice not having to start from step a, now we can start from s or whatever and pick it up where we left off.”

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