It was just a two-hand touch sack during practice one day last week, but Michael Rose enjoyed another chance to show he could make a play.
“I count it. I count it,” said the Nebraska sophomore linebacker from Kansas City, Mo. “It feels good to make plays and have fun. One thing Coach Bo (Pelini) talked about is making sure we bring our energy through the whole practice, and not just when things start to look bad or our backs are against the wall.”
It was Tommy Armstrong who Rose got to in the backfield in one of the final practices before the Huskers took a week off for spring break, but there was no tackling allowed.
“I’m probably going to let him know about it,” Rose said.
Rose is looking to build on what he had going at the end of his redshirt freshman season -- emerging in the second half of the season to start the final five games, and those 17 tackles against Iowa (the most by a Husker last season). His 57 tackles were the most ever by an NU freshman.
Experience is the biggest thing Rose took from last season.
“I felt like last year we were trying to find a rotation. We were trying to find the right fit and the right chemistry,” Rose said. “Luckily for me I was able to be out there for the last six or seven games and starting and playing 60 or 70 snaps on average. That really propelled me into the winter, and realizing that I’m going to be given the first opportunity to go out there and perform with the first string, so I need to make sure I’m in shape and I’ve gotten more explosive and faster.”
Rose may need to hold off guys behind him, such as senior Trevor Roach and sophomore Josh Banderas, but he won’t concern himself with daily moves on the depth chart at this point. Pelini has said this spring he feels really good about the linebacker spot.
Linebackers coach Ross Els is creating lots of competition at the position, and that bodes well for the defense. Rose is still a young guy, but is trying to be a leader.
“I feel like anyone has leadership capability in them. I think it just takes certain situations to bring it out of people,” Rose said. “Fortunately for me, I was able to start a couple games last year. You got to be a leader at the MIKE spot; you got to be vocal and willing to show not only what you’re saying, but how you’re carrying yourself. I feel like right now I have to step up.”
His father, Michael Rose Sr., played linebacker briefly at Northwest Missouri State. Most of the time, father and son steer clear of too much football talk, but the Husker's dad also has passed along some things from his experiences.
“He’s been a great person for me to lean on when football hasn’t been so great to me, and when football has been good to me,” the younger Rose said.
His parents also prepared him for the media exposure that comes with playing football at a place like Nebraska.
Now Rose is a bit of a chatterbox and comfortable in front of cameras, but it wasn’t always that way.
In his final years of high school, more cameras began showing up and Rose was attending recruiting camps and being interviewed. His parents wanted him to come across better.
“You get all that attention from media and stuff like that when you’re a recruit,” Rose said. “Actually, my parents used to sit me down. I say, ‘uhh’ a lot when I talk, and my parents can’t stand that, so what they would do is sit me down and kind of give me a mock interview and I would work on not saying ‘uhh.’ I’ve gotten better with it. They’ve helped me out in that aspect.”