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NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Predicting the Blackshirts – MIKE Linebacker

By Huskerlocker @huskerlocker

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By Brandon Cavanaugh
A Bo Pelini-led defense is salty and vicious. Only a select few can call themselves starters and are rewarded by being part of a Nebraska tradition that spans over four decades. A simple black practice jersey denotes some of the nastiest young men in the country. We look into the crystal ball and see what's to come for the 2011 Blackshirt unit.
MIKE Linebacker
In 2010, Nebraska ran much of their defense out of the Nickel formation allowing some of the best athletes on the defense to play during every snap. In 2011, the Cornhuskers will likely continue this, but also flip into some modified 4-3 looks due to several power running attacks. Regardless of which formation they choose, the MIKE linebacker position becomes more important than ever in the Big Ten conference.
The first name that comes to mind for the position is Will Compton. He was injured before the 2010 season, but came back and performed admirably. Reports indicate that he has recovered well and at 6’2” 230 pounds, Compton has the frame of your prototypical Big Ten linebacker. Nebraska could use him on first and second down as a run stopper before allowing more versatile athletes like Lavonte David step in to defend the pass or stretch runs.
He participated in nine games last year and started four contests while totaling 15 tackles (eight solo), one tackle for loss, and one sack. While those numbers aren’t overly impressive, his injuries have to be taken into account. Once 100 percent, Compton is a force in the middle and should be just as punishing as any other MIKE in the conference.
Sean Fisher could step in on third down situations as a more fluid linebacker, but he may find himself in a position that’s been rarely used during Pelini’s tenure at Nebraska - BUCK linebacker. Still, he could be used as a third down substitution next to David in pass protection.
Other names that are likely to get a look would be redshirt freshman Trevor Roach and junior Graham Stoddard. As it stands, Compton appears to have the spot sewn up. Unless someone gets a fire lit under their rear end, No. 51 should be back in black.
Projected Blackshirt: Will Compton
Other Predicted Starters:
Strongside Defensive End, Strongside Defensive Tackle, Weakside Defensive Tackle, WILL Linebacker
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