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Nebraska Football First Practice, 8.4.2012

Nebraska linebacker Alonzo Whaley (45) jokes around with teammate Sean Fisher before the start of the Huskers' first practice on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012, at Hawks Championship Center.

Alonzo Whaley's road from guy not on the 105-man roster last fall camp to potential starter on opening day this Saturday has been fairly well documented.

But five days before the opener, the senior WILL linebacker had quite a crowd of reporters around him as he discussed his growth and the season ahead.

Aside from getting himself right off the field, Whaley said the biggest on-the-field progress has come in taking time to understand the "whys" of the defense as a whole, and how all the parts of that defense work together.

"Rather than me figuring out just what I need to do, I want to know what everybody needs to do," Whaley said. "(And) just trying to be a better teammate as well, because I've been on the other side of the fence and it's not fun at all. It's helpful to be on this side of the fence and everybody on your side rather than feeling everyone is against you."

He wishes he had taken this approach a few years earlier.

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"I look at it as, 'Dang, this is what you could've been doing all along. So I want to make the best out of this.'"

Will his up-and-down journey to Saturday will bring some extra emotions come game time? Well, possibly some.

"But there's going to be emotions every Saturday because it's my last go round," Whaley said. "I'm going to try to soak it in but not be too emotional about it. Because at the end of the day, when the last game (comes), that's it. I'm a Husker for life, but there's no other way I can step on the field other than being a spectator."

If that sounds like a black-and-white approach, that's exactly the way Whaley said he looks at his situation heading into his senior year.

"Either you get it done or you don't."

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