Trevor Roach and Michael Rose at middle linebacker? David Santos and Zaire Anderson competing for No. 1 reps at the weakside spot? Thomas Brown seeming a good possibility at Buck (strongside)?
They might look like the natural fits but Nebraska defensive coordinator John Papuchis isn’t ready to say how the Huskers might utilize their linebackers when spring practice starts next Saturday.
In fact, Papuchis feels as if NU has some different options — especially at weakside and Buck — with a bunch that also includes Max Pirman and Jared Afalava and a handful of walk-ons.
“They’re all kind of flexible guys,” he said. “I would think that we’re going to kind of mix and match a little bit through the course of spring ball.”
One thing for sure, some inexperienced players will be getting their first big chance after Nebraska had fifth-year seniors Will Compton, Sean Fisher and Alonzo Whaley leading the linebacker corps a year ago.
Roach is the veteran as a junior walk-on who has played 11 games over the last two seasons. Santos is a sophomore who saw his playing time increase the last half-dozen games last fall. Anderson is a former junior-college transfer who looked poised to see more snaps when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in September.
Rose, Brown and Afalava all redshirted last season but were considered promising additions in the 2012 recruiting class.
“One thing about that group – all 12 or however many of them there are – they’re all looking for their opportunity to go out and play,” Papuchis said. “So it’ll be healthy competition going into fall camp.”
Papuchis said Anderson has been cleared for spring practice, but said it will “be up to Coach Pelini’s discretion” as far as how much contact he sees.