Alex Davis

Nebraska outside linebacker Alex Davis has shed the doubt that stayed with him earlier in his career, position coach Jovan Dewitt said Tuesday night on Sports Nightly. 

LINCOLN — When Nebraska senior outside linebacker Alex Davis walks in a room, position coach Jovan Dewitt said Tuesday night on the Husker Sports Network, he’s “everything you’d want a person to look like” for the pass-rushing role. Long, thick, athletic.

And now, Dewitt said, Davis is sure of himself and his role in Nebraska’s defense. That might be the biggest development of all.

“The one thing that held Alex back early on, in my opinion, was almost his doubt in himself,” Dewitt said on “Sports Nightly.” “ ‘Should I do this, should I not do this?’ Now I think you’re seeing him turn it loose and not be afraid to make some mistakes.”

Davis’ comfort with the position, his role and his position coach and coordinator is also a factor in his growth. The same is true of the smaller, hybrid outside ’backer who may start opposite Davis in 2019, JoJo Domann, who switched from safety at midseason.

“He understands, because he comes from the safety position, that he has that 30,000-foot view of things,” Dewitt said. “So he understands how some of the intricacies up front relate to some of the back end stuff.”

Domann now weighs 230 to 235 pounds, Dewitt said, and will be “a lot more physical” at the line of scrimmage, where play moves faster and requires faster reaction than at safety.

More notes from the “Sports Nightly” appearance by both NU linebacker coaches:

  • Scottsbluff true freshman Garrett Nelson, who enrolled early, has to be told “whoa” at times in practice, but that’s better, Dewitt said, than “giddyup.”

“He’s old-school, Blackshirt football, he’s in the office 24/7, he’s watching film, he’ll be a huge contributor for us on special teams and have a situational role on the defensive front,” Dewitt said. Nelson’s work ethic is “infectious.”

  • Incoming freshman Jamin Graham has such big hands, Dewitt said, that a handshake with him is “emasculating.”

“And I don’t have small hands,” Dewitt said.

Graham needs time in the weight room to grow into his tall, long frame. Dewitt said NU coaches have broken down how Graham runs and begun to rebuild it.

  • Managing reps in practice is important, Dewitt said, for fifth-year senior outside linebacker Tyrin Ferguson, who has battled various injuries in his career. When healthy — like in the 2018 season opener against Colorado — Ferguson has a high ceiling.

Staying healthy is equally important for sophomore Caleb Tannor, who had a “fundamental issue with how he took some stuff as a freshman and through his high school career that we’ve gotten fixed.” Tannor hadn’t experienced a summer of lifting weights until he arrived at NU.

“If he doesn’t have a really good year, I’m going to be really surprised and disappointed,” Dewitt said.

  • Inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud said his position is thin as one of the top guys, Will Honas, missed spring practice while rehabbing a torn ACL. Honas, who retained his redshirt because he got hurt in the fourth game last season, has two seasons left and will be “full go” for training camp, where he’s expected to compete for time with expected starters Mohamed Barry and Collin Miller, who has completed the transition from outside linebacker.

Omaha Burke freshman Nick Henrich had been one of the top players in spring practice, but a knee injury will keep him from at least the start of training camp. Ruud does expect Henrich to play at some point in 2019, with a possible redshirt because of the NCAA’s new four-game rule.

“He’s smart, he’s tough, he’s very athletic, he’s dependable and he’s got a natural feel for the game,” Ruud said. “He was on track to play a lot of football this fall.”

  • Another freshman, York’s Garrett Snodgrass, is obviously a coach’s son, Ruud said. Garrett’s dad, Glen, is York’s coach. Garrett’s understanding of the game is high for a freshman, Ruud said.

“He’s all about football,” Ruud said. “Guys like him made Nebraska really successful for a long time.”

  • Jackson Hannah, also an incoming freshman, is “sharp” and “versatile.” Redshirt freshman walk-on Joseph Johnson, from Gretna, is athletic and intelligent and will “only get better and better” after making a “huge jump” in the offseason.

Reporter - Nebraska athletics

Sam covers Nebraska football, recruiting, women's basketball and more for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @swmckewonOWH. Email: SMcKewon@owh.com

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