Nebraska Hands out 11 Blackshirts

Posted By: Sports

Story Courtesy: Nebraska Athletics

Lincoln — For the Nebraska football defense, Monday’s practice marked an exciting and long-awaited day. Among their red and black practice jerseys, there were speckles of black throughout, as a select few players received Blackshirts today.

Byerson Cockrell, Josh Banderas, Greg McMullen, Kevin Williams, Jack Gangwish, Vincent Valentine, Dedrick Young, Maliek Collins, Joshua Kalu, Daniel Davie and Nate Gerry received the coveted jersey before the start of Monday’s practice. The black practice jerseys, a tradition which dates back to the early 1960s, signifies the first-team defense.

Nebraska Defensive Coordinator Mark Banker spoke to the media after the team practiced for just under 90 minutes outside in half pads. Banker highlighted the responsibility that comes with the coveted Blackshirt jersey.

“Now it’s time to represent [the Blackshirts] in everything you do, whether it be on the field, which is the important criteria, and the other part is off the field, whether it is academics or on the street.”

Dedrick Young, one of the Blackshirt recipients became the first true freshman linebacker to earn a starting position. According to Banker, there were a couple key factors that gave Young an edge.

“Dedrick is one of those young men who came in as a high school senior,” Banker said. “He’s extremely intelligent, number one, off the field and number two, it translates. A lot of times guys are book smart and then aren’t very intuitive on the field, but he has good football instincts and has great movement. He did some really good things in the spring. He wasn’t really set to go at that point in time. We gave some of the upperclassmen a first shot at it because everybody was learning the new schemes, so we didn’t want to let that get in the way. Once we came back, it continued and he’s very deserving of that position.”

Banker also commented on the team’s upcoming opponent, BYU and how it would be an “ultimate test” for his Blackshirts.

“This is a heck of a season opener,” Banker said. “They’re going to walk into this stadium and it’ll be a great test for us because there are a lot of unknowns. They’ve got very capable receivers, they’ve got a handful of backs and they’ve got a big offensive line. So they’re not just going to come at us, they’re going to spread us out they’re going to come at you, they’re going to get the ball out on the perimeter and it’s going to be a heck of a test of everything we’ve got in us.­”

Practice Notes: The offense and defense practiced separately today. The offense worked on Tom Osborne Field in Memorial Stadium, while the defense was on the Ed and Joyanne Gass Practice Facility outside of the Hawks Championship Center.