With Fall camp just starting for Nebraska, there are a lot of questions for Rob Dvoracek to answer at the linebacker position. But who are the players that have already emerged and what names should fans know that the Nebraska linebacker position? Let’s find out.
Nebraska Players to Watch: Linebacker
Last season under former linebackers coach Mike Dawson, Luke Reimer proved himself as one of Nebraska’s best individual linebackers. He led the team with 86 tackles. In addition, he was effective in coverage as well. He had five pass deflections along with an interception and a forced fumble. Now in 2023, he is looking to have another strong season. According to 247Sports Brian Christopherson, linebackers coach Dvoracek has high expectations for him because “he is fast, smart and instinctual.” But can he translate his knowledge into the next step by playing at an All-American level?
Read more about Reimer here: Quick Thoughts From Rob Dvoracek’s Press Conference
Alongside Reimer, Nick Henrich was equally impressive in his duties at the position last season. Before his knee injury against Purdue, he tallied 15 solo tackles as well as 22 assists. Now, as the Cornhuskers head into Fall camp, Dvoracek has seen him become “more and more comfortable” with the new system. But does this help him come back stronger as a starter against Minnesota?
Throughout his playing career, Jimari Butler hasn’t had as much of an opportunity as the other two linebackers on this list. However, he still made the most of his starts last year with nine tackles. Now as a Jack linebacker under defensive coordinator Tony White, he should have plenty of time to improve his abilities as a pass rusher and in coverage. His only limit is the fact that Georgia transfer MJ Sherman and Florida transfer Chief Borders hold the majority of experience on the roster in that position.
Freshmen to Watch
As the son of former Husker and NFL veteran Danny Noonan, Maverick Noonan has football in his blood. This was demonstrated at the Spring game when he finished the day with two tackles and one quarterback pressure on Heinrich Haarberg as a defensive end. But these things don’t matter to his new linebackers coach. According to 247Sports, Dvoracek is more enthralled with the fact that “he does whatever you ask.” Because of this attitude, he is excited to watch his “career get better and better” as he moves over to the linebacker position.
In 2022, Millard South graduate, Gage Stenger found his way onto the field as a true freshman by playing special teams against Michigan. Now in 2023, he will be a redshirt freshman in White’s defense. And he could see increased playing time. In the Spring game, he caught an interception along with recording three tackles and a tackle for loss. But can he survive the competition? Veteran backers Garrett Snodgrass and Grant Tagge are ready to claim his spot if the situation demands it.
By looking at Eric Fields’ high school career, there is no doubt that he has the ability to make a huge impact on White’s new defense. And Dvoracek feels this way too. According to 247Sports, he is explosive and works really hard. But it may not be his time to step into the Big Ten. Since he is a new arrival, “there is still a lot of development to be had.” But he is someone to watch at the linebacker position when Nebraska’s season starts to get going.
As a former five-star prospect out of Maryland, Sherman comes to the Cornhusker program after receiving little playing time with the Georgia Bulldogs. But in his short time at Nebraska, Sherman’s talent has made him thrive. This was shown at the Spring game when he recorded four tackles and a tackle for loss. But now he has to prove that he has the ability to start against Minnesota.
For the Florida Gators in 2022, Borders played sparingly on special teams. He recorded an assisted tackle against South Carolina and followed it up by recording his first career tackle against Georgia. Now with his fresh start at Nebraska, he has ample opportunity to put his talents to good use in Dvoracek’s room alongside Sherman. With his palpable energy and energetic personality, it should be even easier for him to accomplish.
Photo courtesy: Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK