NCAA FB

Pelini: 10-tackle night just start for Huskers' LB

Share This Story

   
 

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP)

David Santos wanted to pass on redshirting his first season at Nebraska and play right away. His coaches, intrigued by his speed and tenacity, were tempted to relent and put him on the field.

The patience paid off.

Santos soaked up all he could from being around older teammates and spent extra time in the film room. When he stepped on the field against Michigan last Saturday, he didn't look like an ordinary first-time starter.

Santos made 10 tackles, including one for a loss, in the 21st-ranked Cornhuskers' 23-9 victory. Monday he was chosen one of the Big Ten's co-freshmen of the week.

''He can run, he's explosive, he can play in the open field and do some good things,'' coach Bo Pelini said. ''Now he's at a point where he's not going to hurt us. He's really helping us and doing some good things. He's nowhere near where I think he'll be in the future, but he's getting better.''

Pelini's defensive system is not easy for young players to grasp, and Santos had to put in his time. Santos didn't even play in the opener against Southern Mississippi.

The timetable for Santos was accelerated after Zaire Anderson went out with a knee injury in mid-September. Santos played some against Wisconsin and Ohio State but didn't really emerge until Oct. 20 against Northwestern.

He made three tackles against the Wildcats, including his first behind the line of scrimmage when he broke through and threw Kain Colter for a 2-yard loss.

Pelini deemed Santos ready to be a starting linebacker alongside Will Compton when the Huskers opened in their nickel package against Michigan.

When Denard Robinson handed off to Fitzgerald Toussaint on the second play, Santos was there to meet him for the first of his six solo tackles.

''He's starting to make that push to being the guy we thought he could be,'' defensive coordinator John Papuchis said.

With his playmaking ability on the perimeter, the 6-foot, 220-pound Santos is a perfect fit for the Huskers when they go against mobile quarterbacks and spread offenses.

Nebraska (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) will see more of a pro-set offense at Michigan State (5-4, 2-3) this week, meaning the Huskers probably will employ more of their 4-3 base alignment.

''I'm not really sure where I'll be at,'' Santos said, ''but I feel like I might get a couple snaps during the game.''

Given how productive Santos can be, it's difficult to imagine him being off the field for long stretches.

Asked what differentiates Santos from other Nebraska linebackers, senior Alonzo Whaley said, ''He's just quicker.''

''He's a smaller guy. He'll pursue to the ball. I don't want to say he gives us something another linebacker doesn't. He has (a nose) for the ball just like guys you've seen in the past. He does a good job pursuing the ball.''

Whaley has taken Santos under his wing in the linebackers' meeting room. Whaley likes to give him advice and answer his questions. Whaley said Santos' humility is refreshing.

''He's good, quiet, willing to learn, takes notes,'' Whaley said. ''He's in that stage where he's trying to consume everything. He asks questions.

''You have to respect a guy like that who doesn't get above himself because he got a lot of playing time. The name of the game is that you can never learn too much, and he understands that at a young age. That makes his future a lot brighter.''

Santos was ranked among the nation's top 15 outside linebackers by Rivals.com when he was coming out of Klein Collins High School in Spring, Texas. Rivals also had him ranked among the top 40 overall players in the Lone Star state.

Arkansas, Kansas and Utah offered scholarships, but Santos picked Nebraska after making his official visit in October 2010. He attended the Huskers' game against Missouri and saw Pelini's defense sack Blaine Gabbert six times in a 31-17 win. Santos wanted to be a part of it.

A lack of depth at linebacker last year had Santos and the coaches thinking that he might step in and play immediately.

Looking back, Santos is glad he didn't, even though he found it difficult to not be able to play in games.

''It's an eye-opener, and it'll humble you real quick, realizing this is a whole `nother level of play,'' Santos said. ''Watching the first couple games and some of the tough losses, you think maybe if I had played I could have helped out. But that's not up to me; that's up to the coaches. I think everything worked out well in the end.''

Tagged: Michigan, Nebraska, Alonzo Whaley, Will Compton, David Santos

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by

College Football Pick'em on FOX


NCAA FB Videos

Sumlin annoyed by media's Manziel questions Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Kevin Sumlin responds to questions about life after Johnny Football by toying wi...

AJ Pasquale's journey back to UCLA Posted: Jun 17, 2014
UCLA football ops intern AJ Pasquale describes his own personal journey after th...

Winston issued adult civil citation Posted: Apr 30, 2014
Get the latest news surrounding Jameis Winston's recent shoplifting fiasco.

Get Inside the Locker Room with Scout.com

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/759777/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_759000/ff_759777_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Michigan_State_Spartans/browse/featuredproduct/760171/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_760000/ff_760171_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White
    Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_USC_Trojans/browse/featuredproduct/761373/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_761000/ff_761373_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/829709/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829709_xl.jpg&w=100 64.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimso..
    Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_LSU_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/829740/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829740_xl.jpg&w=100 49.99 Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple
    Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oklahoma_Sooners/browse/featuredproduct/830935/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_830000/ff_830935_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/861243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861243_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue
    adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Nebraska_Cornhuskers/browse/featuredproduct/861247/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861247_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapback Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1087345/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1087000/ff_1087345_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapba..
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1093431/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1093000/ff_1093431_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash