Fall Camp Preview: Linebacker
As things get close to the start of fall camp, HuskerOnline.com will spend the next few days breaking down the different position groups and biggest storylines heading into the 2017 season.
As we move forward on our defensive previews, today we take a closer look at both the outside and inside linebacker positions as they make the adjustment into Bob Diaco's defensive scheme.
WHAT WE KNOW: Weber appears to be the guy Diaco will lean on
When you look at the projected starting group at linebacker, the one guy who has really benefited from the move into the 3-4 defense is senior Chris Weber.
The former walk-on is the latest in a long line of former Elkhorn walk-ons to contribute at NU in recent years. Weber joins Trevor Roach, Graham Nabity, Spencer Long and Jake Long as former Antler walk-ons who have gone on to earn scholarships the last few seasons.
Weber represented Nebraska at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago this past week, and that should serve as a clear message what defensive coordinator Bob Diaco and head coach Mike Riley think of his potential this season.
WHAT WE WANT TO KNOW: Does Nebraska have the proper pieces?
As you start to look at the pieces Diaco has to work with in year one of this defense, the biggest question probably is at outside linebacker. Do the Huskers have adequate pass rushers on the edge?
As camp opens, sophomore Alex Davis continues to be the guy at the Cat outside linebacker spot who will play more of a hybrid outside linebacker and defensive end. Senior Marcus Newby and junior Luke Gifford will both work at the Dog outside linebacker spot where they'll be responsible to cover the running back in space, among other duties.
Davis is probably the bigger question, as he had a long ways to go this spring, and in all reality that is one of the most important positions in this defense the Huskers need a difference maker at according to Mike Riley at Big Ten Media Days.
WHAT WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING: Roberts and Barry
I expect to see both Barry and Roberts be key special teams players, and continue to push Young and Weber for snaps at the two inside backer positions. Roberts has a chance to be special in this defense, while Barry is finally starting to come into his own.
FALL CAMP NEWCOMERS
Roberts enrolled in January, but the Huskers will add three more scholarship linebackers to the mix this August in Andrew Ward, Willie Hampton and Guy Thomas. Of that group, Thomas is one of the more intriguing newcomers with his ability to be a potential edge rusher at outside linebacker.
Another name to keep your eyes on for the future is Central City outside linebacker Jordan Paup, who turned down full-ride offers from top-10 FCS programs North Dakota State and South Dakota State to walk-on at Nebraska.