Monday, March 31, 2008

Ekeler Confident of Young Husker LB Corps

More from the OWH on Husker LB Coach Mike Ekeler and his young charges. Mike is confident that the players will be able to perform well under the new system despite not having any returning starters. As he sees it, the challenge will simply be to get the best players on the field.

"Here's what was left for Ekeler when he arrived from Louisiana State to assume his first job as a full-time assistant:

• Not one returning full-time starter from last season, and only one player with more than a dozen career tackles.
• Just one senior, who happens to be a walk-on.
• Only five scholarship linebackers, one of whom was recruited to play safety.

For comparison, NU has seven scholarship receivers. Yet Ekeler looks insulted if you question what he has to work with during spring football practice. "We're fairly deep," Ekeler said. "We've got some good guys. We don't look at it as scholarship and non-scholarship. We just need to see who's going to rise to the top. That's what it boils down to."

NU hasn't had to replace all three positions since 1997. Mike backer Phillip Dillard has three career starts, bur has played in 24 games total and looks to establish himself as a defensive anchor. Blake Lawrence and Latravis Washington (moved from safety) seek to fill the starting spots with competition from scholarship LBs Nick Covey, Austin Stafford and walk-on senior Tyler Wortman. In addition, the current crop will recieve four scholarship recruits in the fall, including highly touted prospects Will Compton and Millar North's Shawn Fischer, as well as Micch Kriekemeier and Alonzo Whaley.

"So what makes the perfect linebacker?"A guy who is sharp, a guy who's going to play with fanaticism, play with his hair on fire and a guy who's going to just be relentless and refuse to get blocked and make plays," Ekeler said. "That's perfect to me."

Sounds perfect to me too. Good luck to Mike and his players.

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