Zaire Anderson already has been a pleasant surprise to Ross Els with at least one element of his game.
The Nebraska assistant coach called Anderson “very physical” as the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder makes the jump from Riverside (Calif.) Community College to the Huskers.
“We knew he could run,” Els said Monday night. “We knew he was an intelligent kid. But he’s probably a little more physical than what we thought he was. He’s going to be a tough guy to block.”
Anderson, from Philadelphia, made 95 tackles last season for Riverside CC, including 19 for losses, and the program was 21-1 in his two years as a starter.
Anderson and David Santos are working behind senior Alonzo Whaley at weakside linebacker, the spot held down by Lavonte David the last two seasons – also after David made the jump from the JC level. Els said Anderson also could be considered eventually at strongside linebacker, where Sean Fisher is running No. 1, but hasn’t worked there yet.
At middle linebacker, Trevor Roach again is behind Will Compton, but Els said Roach has made huge strides from a year ago.
“As long as he continues to grow like he’s doing right now, he’ll see some playing time,” Els said. “Last year there was a big difference between Compton and Roach, but Roach is narrowing the gap a little bit, and hopefully we can get him some more reps this fall.”