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Nebraska's linebackers must make big transition this spring

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Over the course of spring practice, no position group will be forced to make a bigger transition than Nebraska’s linebackers.

The Huskers will be moving into a 3-4 defense, after running a 4-3 scheme since 1993. This has required defensive ends to move to outside linebacker, and it’s moved multiple former outside linebackers into inside linebacker spots.

That transition will change everything with the linebacker position going forward, but head coach Mike Riley said he’s excited about what the future holds.

“The recruiting will change a little bit for sure as we go recruiting a little bit different style linebacker," Riley said. "So a lot of things change with the advent of a new front and it’s very exciting."

One player that will be expected to carry a big load this spring will be senior Chris Weber. The Elkhorn native has played both inside and outside linebacker in the 4-3, but has now made the transition over to the strong side inside linebacker spot in the 3-4.

“It’s just learning a new system with new terminology,” Weber said following Saturday’s first spring practice. “I’ve done it twice now, and this will be my third new defense. You kind of take some of what you learned earlier and apply it to this new defense - a lot of it is terminology and new concepts. You just have to learn it.”

Weber said the new defense will require him to play a little bigger than his previous playing weight.

This off-season Weber said he’s gone from 230 to 240 pounds as he prepares to take on the strong side inside linebacker position.

“It’s going to take a lot of reps, and that’s the only way you can learn it by doing it,” Weber said.

“I think I can play inside. I’ve got to put on some weight and I think I’ll do alright in there.”

The competition should be interesting to follow, as Weber, senior Marcus Newby, junior Dedrick Young and sophomore Alex Davis will start the spring as the four starters.

However, there is a large group of younger backers that will all be vying for time hoping to make a strong impression on new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco.

“Any time you can compete every day, spots aren’t just going to be handed out just because you are a senior,” Weber said. “There are going to be no spots that are handed out. You’ve got to come out and earn it.”