Outlook: The Huskers were positively gutted by graduation at linebacker. Given the way the defense performed in 2007, they may not be all bad. Nebraska must find starters and capable backups at every spot. Still, a transfer by Kyle Moore (brother of former standout Husker defensive end Jay Moore) suggests that there may be good competition at linebacker.
Incumbents: Phillip Dillard is the only returning player with starting experience at linebacker. He seems a lock to be the starting middle linebacker.
Rising Stars: Walk-on Tyler Wortman was the talk of the spring game after forcing and recovering a fumble on the first play from scrimmage and finishing with six solo tackles (including one for a loss). Wortman was already sharing a number two spot on the depth chart a year ago, but now he seems likely to win a starting spot.
In-The-Mix: Cody Glenn and LaTravis Washington seem to be battling for the starting spot at the WILL linebacker spot. Glenn may have the edge but both should see time. Blake Lawrence, though still a bit skinny, could retain a two-deep spot behind Wortman that he’d gained late last year. Colton Koehler might be the number two at MIKE linebacker behind Dillard.
Enigma: It’s not clear whether Austin Stafford will have any role coming off his redshirt year. He was highly touted out of high school but so far has been pretty silent in terms of making his presence felt.
Odd Man Out?: Nick Covey didn’t help his chances to win a rotation spot with his minor in possession of alcohol charge. While not as egregious as other offenses, it could easily be a setback in his bid to finally get a letter.
On The Horizon: Will Compton might sneak onto the field in 2008. His ability matches a great need and the coaches would likely want to get him up to speed fast at the middle linebacker spot. Alonzo Whaley, Sean Fisher, Micah Kreikemeier, and Kyler Reed could also all become linebackers, but you’d expect at least a year to go by before any of those newcomers were contributing meaningfully.