Mount Rushmore Nebraska: Linebacker
Over the next few weeks of summer HuskerOnline.com will introduce a new feature called "Mount Rushmore Nebraska."
Similar to the legendary Mount Rushmore monument in South Dakota, HOL will recognize the "four faces" for each position in Husker program history. These are the four players Nebraska would choose to put on a monument for each position.
As you can imagine, narrowing it down to four players at each position is not an easy task. We also wanted to make sure that all eras in the program's history were included in this, so you will see players from as early as the 1920's included in our Mount Rushmore lists.
Today we continue the series with HOL's Mount Rushmore for the linebacker position.
Tom Novak - 1946-1949
South Omaha native Tom Novak is the only player in Nebraska history to be named first-team all-conference all four years of his career. His No. 60 was also the first number ever retired at NU, no player has worn it since he finished in 1949. Novak is regarded as the best player in program history before the days of helmets and facemasks.
Novak arguably could've been on the Mount Rushmore for both center and linebacker, as he was a two-way starter. His nickname was "train wreck," and he was once referred to as "Dick Butkus before Dick Butkus." In a 1947 game with eventual national champion Notre Dame Novak recorded 17 tackles in a 21 play span.
"My eyes have never seen Tom Novak's equal at any position," the late Lyell Bremser once said. "As football players go, the Good Lord made Tom Novak, then threw away the mold."
Jerry Murtaugh - 1968-1970
Omaha North product Jerry Murtaugh finished his career in 1970 as the program's all-time leading tackler with 367 stops in just three seasons. That record would stand all the way up until 2004. The only difference is today's players can have four-year careers, where when Murtaugh played freshmen were not eligible to play in varsity games.
Murtaugh was a 1970 All-American and a 1969 first-team all-conference selection. He played a critical role on Nebraska's 1970 national championship defense and led NU in tackles against LSU in the title game and led the Huskers that season with 142 total tackles.
Barrett Ruud - 2001-2004
Nebraska's all-time tackle leader, Lincoln native Barrett Ruud is part of one of the greatest NU football families in school history dating back to his legendary great grandfather Clarence Swanson.
Ruud finished his career with 432 total tackles, including 149 tackles in 2003 and 143 tackles in 2004. Ruud went on to have an eight-year career in the NFL with Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Seattle, New Orleans and Houston.
Lavonte David - 2010-2011
No linebacker did more in two years at Nebraska than junior college transfer Lavonte David. The Miami native had 285 tackles in just two seasons, and was a first-team All-American in 2011 and a first-team all-conference selection in 2010. David also took home Big Ten linebacker of the year honors in the Cornhuskers first year in their new conference.
David's 152 tackles in 2010 are also an NU single season record, which included a 19 tackle game against South Dakota State. David will be going into his third season in the NFL and he's considered one of the best young linebackers in the league.
Just missed the cut
Tom Ruud - 1972-1974: Ruud finished his career with 216 tackles and was an eventual first round NFL Draft pick by the Buffalo Bills in 1975. His sons Barrett and Bo would eventually go on to play at Nebraska in the 2000's.
Mark Munford - 1983-1986: One of the real defensive stars for Nebraska that led the Huskers in tackles three straight seasons from 1984 to 1986. He was also a three-time All-Big Eight selection.
Ed Stewart - 1991-1994: A 1994 All-American, Steward was key for the Huskers during the 1994 national championship season.
Carlos Polk - 1997-2000: Arguably one of the hardest hitting linebackers in school history, Polk was a 2000 All-American and went on to have a great pro career.
Demorrio Williams - 2002-2003: Like David, Williams was also a junior college transfer and had a very productive two-year career. Williams had 11 sacks and 21 tackles for loss in 2003, and was one of the real bright spots on Frank Solich's final team at Nebraska.