Nebraska defense spring preview

A look at the Nebraska defense entering spring football.

Defensive Line

Who needs to be replaced?

We are now in the era of the 3-4 defense with the hire of Defensive Coordinator Bob Diaco. The way the depth chart looks right now, I don’t think this new scheme change could have come at a better time for this defense. Nebraska loses starting DT Kevin Maurice and starting DE Ross Dzuris leaving behind an open spot at both positions.

Who is returning?

The defensive line will look a lot different in the 3-4 and it seems that there is a solid group that is making strides. Mick Stoltenberg has packed on the pounds and is now up to 310 and looking more like a nose tackle as the days go on. Freedom Akinmoladun and Carlos Davis are looking like the two Defensive Ends for next year. Other notable returners for next year are Khalil Davis, Daishon Neal, and Peyton Newell who all need to make big strides for next year.

Who is new?

Nebraska will have three new defensive lineman coming into next year for the fall semester and all are listed as defensive tackles, but not all of them will necessarily be at NT. Deiontae Watts and and Damion Daniels are the two recruits that I could see being nose tackles in the future for NU while Deontre Thomas is a guy I could see the staff pushing to one of the end positions. Either way, Coach Parella did a great job with the haul this year in recruiting and should pay off real soon.

Depth chart this spring

Weak-side defensive end

1.) Carlos Davis

2.) Peyton Newell

Nose tackle

1.) Mick Stoltenberg

2.) Khalil Davis

Strong-side defensive end

1.) Freedom Akinmoladun

2.) Daishon Neal

Linebackers

Who needs to be replaced?

Another position that is going to experience a dramatic switch schematic wise are the linebackers. Coach Bray will have to replace two very productive linebackers in Josh Banderas and Michael Rose-Ivey. The good news, however, is that this group returns guys who have starting and playing experience and should be a nice springboard into next season. 

Who is returning?

Chris Weber, Dedrick Young, and Marcus Newby highlight the group of returners from last season. Also Alex Davis who was a defensive end last year and has now moved to OLB in the new defense. Luke Gifford, Sedrick King, and Mohammed Barry are also guys to keep an eye on as we go through spring practice. Since coach Diaco doesn’t know these guys all that well, there could be many changes come fall practice as to who is starting September 2nd. 

Who is new?

Avery Roberts is the only linebacker signee from the 2017 class who has already made it on campus so he will have an edge over the others. Other new faces coming in are three-star ILB Andrew Ward and a pair of OLB in Guy Thomas and Willie Hampton. I think that Avery Roberts is one of the newcomers who could see the field this year especially with the move to a 3-4. 

Depth chart this spring

Field OLB

1.) Marcus Newby

2.) Luke Gifford

Weak ILB

1.) Dedrick Young

2.) Mohammed Barry

3.) Greg Simmons

Strong ILB

Chris Weber

Pernell Jefferson

Avery Roberts 

Boundary OLB

Alex Davis

Sedrick King

Ben Stille

Secondary

Who needs to be replaced?

Nebraska lost a very productive player in safety Nate Gerry this past year. The safety position is really up for grabs this next year. Some guys could move around a little and with the emergence of a new defense and a slew of new coaches, who knows what could happen.

Who is returning?

The Huskers have two proven starters in Joshua Kalu and Chris Jones at cornerback. There is also promise from sophomore Lamar Jackson coming onto the scene as a possible guy at corner. Jackson was recruited as a safety and one has to think he could be getting a look at safety for next season with the departure of Gerry but only time will tell. Nebraska also returns Aaron Williams, Kieron Williams, and Antonio Reed at the safety spot. Other notable returners for next year include Eric Lee, Avery Anderson and Dicaprio Bootle, who redshirted last season

Who is new?

This past year in recruiting didn’t go so well for the secondary however, there is hope going forward. Nebraska was in on a lot of guys right up until the end of their recruitment and a lot of that is credited to Donte Williams. Coach Williams helped to secure the commitment of four-star Elijah Blades and he is a guy that could possibly see the field early as a freshman. 

Depth chart this spring

Cornerback

1.) Chris Jones and Joshua Kalu

2.) Lamar Jackson and Dicaprio Bootle

3.) Eric Lee and Boaz Joseph

Safety

1.) Antonio Reed and Aaron Williams

2.) Jojo Domann and Kieron Williams

3.) Marquel Dismuke and Tony Butler


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