Last year, we saw vast improvements from the Blackshirt defense, even though the Big Red struggled, going 4-8. One of the more noticeable positions of improvement was the linebackers. This group showed their ability to attack the run, stop the pass reasonably well, and rush the passer as well. But in all three of those areas, the Huskers will look to make improvements.
The one athlete who didn’t have many holes in his game, senior inside linebacker Mohammed Barry. Barry was an All-Big Ten Third-Team member, selected by the media, and he had quite the season. He started all 12 games and totaled 112 tackles. Before last season, he had just 44 career tackles. This 100-tackle season was the first time that a Husker has gotten to that number since 2014. Barry does a fantastic job of play recognition and attacking the ball. He was by far the most consistent player on the defensive side of the football. Barry just loves to play football and you can tell that because he is all gas, no brakes.
Junior Will Honas will look to bounce back after a knee injury and he has a great opportunity to make plays for the Huskers this season. Honas played in just four games, so he was able to redshirt with the new rules in effect. Honas showed some flashes with 15 tackles on the season and he too has great play recognition from the inside linebacker.
Collin Miller will also look to improve off of solid sophomore campaign as he has seen time at the inside linebacker position. Miller played in all 12 games last year and showed the ability to be versatile. He totaled 17 tackles last season and one tackle for loss. Miller will look to take the next step for the Huskers and become a player that can be on the field more often.
Looking at the outside linebacker position for the Big Red, there are plenty of serviceable players who will fit the bill for them. Tyrin Ferguson enters his senior year looking to put together a full season of production as he has battled injuries throughout his career. Ferguson totaled 36 tackles last season in eight games. If he can remain healthy Ferguson could post 50 or more tackles for the Huskers.
Senior Alex Davis looks to break out this season for the Huskers. He’s the perfect size for this defense and the type linebacker they are looking for. He stands at 6’5 255 pounds, but it hasn’t all clicked for him. He played in all 12 games but had just five tackles. There are discussions that he could be utilized as a pass rusher for the Huskers, but we will see how the Big Red decides to utilize him.
JoJo Domann was a player that came along nicely for the Huskers late in the season and looks to carry that into his junior campaign. Domann is fairly lean for the linebacker spot at 6’1 225 pounds, but he adds an element of speed and also pass coverage. He battled injury for four games, but when he was healthy and seeing the field, the impact was there. He finished the season with 19 tackles and a sack. Domann also showed a great nose for the ball with two forced fumbles, broke up a couple of passes, and a fumble recovery. He has an opportunity for a monster season.
There may not be a Husker linebacker with more upside than sophomore Caleb Tannor. Tannor isn’t the biggest guy in the world weighing just 210 pounds, but his speed is phenomenal. He had just 10 tackles as a true freshman, but he could be a real difference maker this season.
Other players in the linebacker room that could see the field include senior Jacob Weinmaster, junior Quayshon Alexander, junior Pernell Jefferson, sophomore Breon Dixon, redshirt freshman Tate Wildeman, true freshman Garrett Nelson, Jackson Hannah, and Nick Henrich.