Tuesday rundown: Young making move at LB
Click Here to view this video.
[rl]One of the biggest concerns facing Nebraska going into the offseason was the lack of proven depth it had to work with at the linebacker position.
While veterans like Josh Banderas and Michael Rose-Ivey gave the Huskers a solid starting group, the rest of the unit was made of young and inexperienced players competing to fill out the rest of the depth chart behind them. That's why for several reasons it has been somewhat of a perfect storm for Dedrick Young.
By graduating high school early and enrolling at NU to participate in spring practice, the true freshman linebacker got a major advantage with the head start over the rest of the linebackers. Since then, Young has been continuously impressing his coaches and teammates more and more with every rep he gets.
Now, with just over two weeks remaining before the season opener on Sept. 5, Young has worked himself to become a legitimate candidate for a starting role.
"Derrick had the benefit of graduating early and being here in the spring, and it's made a major difference and is probably very good for us that he did that," head coach Mike Riley said. "Because he's making a major move. He at this time is obviously not redshirting and he's getting ready to play. He appears to be one of those guys like Stanley Morgan Jr., like Devine Ozigbo, that are just very, very comfortable fitting in."
While he's still battling with sophomore Marcus Newby for the starting BUCK linebacker job, Young has quickly moved past the freshman nerves he dealt with in the spring. He's generally pretty reserved by nature, but Riley said Young takes on a noticeable confidence when he puts the pads on.
"He's relatively quiet, but very, very intense," Riley said. "He's a very good learner, and he's been very consistent. That's what's elevated him. It's not just that he flashes his ability once in a while, he's becoming reliable."
Along with continuing to learn and develop as a Division I linebacker, Young is working to becoming a more out-going personality in the locker room. But while linebackers coach Trent Bray jokingly calls Young a "mute" at times because he's so quiet, his teammates say there's no issues with his communication on the field.
"You get to know him more and he gets comfortable, he talks to you a lot," Banderas said. "As far as on the field, he's fine communicating. He's going to be a good 'backer."
***Players who sat out of Tuesday's practice with various injuries: receivers Brandon Reilly, Taariq Allen, Sam Burtch and Lane Hovey; safety Antonio Reed; cornerback Chris Jones; and running back Jordan Stevenson.
***Freshman wide out Lavan Alston suffered an injury late in the practice, but Riley said it was too early to know the severity.
***The good news was that junior receiver Alonzo Moore was back in action after missing the past two practices with a foot injury.
***Riley said Ozigbo has been playing really well this fall and doesn't look like a true freshman running back with how comfortable and natural he is at this level.
***Riley said senior running back Imani Cross has lost a notable amount of "good weight" since last season, which has made him a much more effective runner.
***Riley said NU's passing game is still going through the "ebbs and flows" of development. He said there are always struggles throwing the ball in camp because defenses can anticipate certain plays and are able to play much more physically in coverage as a result. To put it in simple terms, Riley's evaluation of the passing game is that "the ingredients are there, the consistency is not."
***Riley hinted that there would be some news regarding walk-on players earning scholarships by the end of the week. He said the staff has been talking about it for the past three or four days, and they want to use as much time before the weekend deadline as they can to decide which players are going to earn the honor. Riley said there was "a number of candidates" who could earn scholarships.
***Former Husker defensive end Zach Potter was in attendance for Tuesday's practice.
***Also in attendance were a reporter and photographer from a newspaper in Winnipeg, Canada, where Riley was once the head coach for the CFL's Winnipeg Jets. The reporter said Riley is still regarded as "royalty" up there for leading the Jets to multiple Grey Cups during his tenure.
Click Here to view this Link.