Regardless of who stood out at the spring game this Saturday, Cody Glenn gave the most valuable performance of the spring. While his move from running back to linebacker could be cynically viewed as opportunistic, it’s clearly helpful to the team.
Linebacker depth was easily the biggest concern for the 2008 Huskers going into next season. Only Phillip Dillard brings starting experience at linebacker and only a handful of other scholarship players were competing at the position (Nick Covey, Austin Stafford, Blake Lawrence, and Latravis Washington). Glenn not only helps solidify the two-deep with scholarship options, but he appears good enough to start. In fact, with the walk-ons at the position counted in, there seemed to be enough competition to prompt Kyle Moore (a walk-on and brother of former standout Husker defensive end Jay Moore) to transfer away.
Glenn’s position switch also eases the crowding at running back a bit, which while a nice problem to have can still be a problem. With an 85 scholarship limit, the name of the game is retention. One big reason the Huskers aren’t three-deep at every position is that a fair number of players don’t stay in the program four to five years. Leon Jackson for example was a touted recruit that might have helped the Huskers at safety who opted to transfer when it became clear he wasn’t likely to see much playing time at running back. Had Jackson stayed, we likely wouldn’t have seen Major Culbert move from defense to running back to shore up the running back depth in 2006 and 2007. Without the move, Culbert would be that much more ready today to play safety at a high level today.
Nebraska has five scholarship running backs competing this spring besides Glenn and as many as three more are set to join the mix at the position in the fall. With so many kids competing for maybe three or four meaningful running back roles, a transfer would hardly be shocking. But the likelihood was that Glenn would have been among the four better players, leaving one more of the remaining backs out. In that way, his move decreases the likelihood of transfers.
But perhaps more than the specific problems Glenn’s move addresses is the example it sets for the rest of the team. That team needs are more important than individual desires. That if you do the work, you can switch positions and still ascend to a starting role. And if it all goes well, he may ascend to the professional level as a linebacker which would make switching positions that much more appealing to the next guy. Before even playing a down his senior year, Glenn may well have cemented a legacy at Nebraska to be proud of.