Will Compton is enthusiastic in an interview, but he prefers playing over talking.
Photo by Shamus McKnight/Huskers.com

Compton Eager to Let Playing Do the Talking

By NU Athletic Communications

Randy York's N-Sider

Nebraska senior linebacker Will Compton does not need an introduction. He just needs a conversation, so the N-Sider started one, and the senior linebacker put himself in high gear like he just heard the snap count and knew right where he was going.

Q: What kind of a summer has it been?

A: It’s been a great summer, picking up where we left off from the spring, and we had a great winter, too. It’s been great. It’s been awesome. We couldn’t have had anything much better than what we put together this summer.

Q: What’s been the difference in the training regimen?

A: We have a bunch of stations and we have to rotate quicker. It’s anywhere from seven to nine seconds, depending on what position you are. Then you get anywhere from 20 to 35 seconds of rest, and that just varies. Every once in a while, we’ll get a timeout and a 90-second rest, but then we go right back at it because we simulate drives on offense and defense.

Q: What did the Navy Seals teach you last spring?

A: They taught us about leadership and how to be a good teammate. You don’t have to be in a leadership position to be a leader. You can do it from a teammate standard, and we learned a lot about how to be a good teammate and how to hold each other accountable. The Seals made us all realize that we’re only as good as our weakest link.

Q: Last January, Bo Pelini let the seniors think about what they wanted to accomplish this year. You guys thought long and hard about that. What’s the verdict?

A: Winning a championship takes a vision. You create it and then you try to get everybody on board with that same vision. We’ve pushed it real hard, and it’s a process we’re still working on. Everybody has to share that same vision so you can carry it out. I think it will make us a very tough team to beat. We’re getting everybody on the same page so we can see that vision from a coach’s perspective. That way, we have one ultimate goal and one way to do things. The coaches have done a great job handling it the way they have. They’ve taken a player’s opinion of things and adjusted some things around. It’s been pretty much a no excuse, no explanation type of off-season. I know I’m beyond excited to get going. It’s been a long time coming. I know I speak for all of us when I say we’ve busted our butts to get prepared and ready for this season.

Q: You’re in Chicago with a video camera. Let’s put our lens on you. How surprising can this defense be?

A: It’s not going to be a surprise to us. I don’t want to speak too soon on things and get a bunch of talk and hype going. All I can say again is I’m beyond excited about what we have and what we work on, and I just know the leadership we have on this team has been taken to another level. The coaches have found a new level in their game, too. I can speak on behalf of our whole team when I say it’s just different. Man, I’m beyond jacked to see what happens. Everybody wants to talk about losing the big three on defense (Jared Crick, Lavonte David and Alfonzo Dennard). We’re going to put a strong 11 on the field. I can’t even put it into words how I excited I am.

Q: Who are the leaders that are emerging besides you and Rex Burkhead and Kyler Reed, the three seniors selected to represent the team at the Big Ten Media Days?

A: We’ve had a bunch of guys who have grown and it’s hard to name names because I don’t want to leave people out. There have been so many, and I go back to what we’ve learned from the military and how we’ve come together as a team. I know every team probably says they’re close every year, but this team is really close. I don’t know how to put it except to say we’re just like a brotherhood. Let’s keep it at that. I mean, guys have been transformed ... Quincy Enunwa, Daimion Stafford, Alonzo Whaley, Baker Steinkuhler, Ben Cotton. We’ve had a bunch of senior leaders step up. Golly, Ameer (Abdullah) is just a sophomore, but I see him emerging. He hasn’t been picked to be on the Leadership Council or anything like that. We have great leadership from that running back area already in Rex, but Ameer, he’s a leader. Gosh, the list goes on, and I don’t want to leave anybody out ...T.J. Zimmerer and a bunch of other guys. It’s been awesome watching each guy come into his own. It’s just phenomenal, and I can’t say enough about the group of guys we have ... Justin Jackson – he’s a big one. Spencer Long. Like I said, the list really can go on and on. I wish outsiders could know what’s gone on, but it’s just indescribable.

Q: Can you give me one example of the brotherhood that’s so obvious?

A: I always get real hyped up just talking about it, but I don’t want be putting stuff out there because every year there’s always a certain hype that gets built up ... blah-blah-blah and this and that. I think a good example of brotherhood is me being able to name off all those guys and know I’m still leaving guys out who deserve to be mentioned. That’s brotherhood. It just speaks volumes knowing you have this kind of support system. We have leadership from every area of our football team coming together. I know on defense we work as a unit, and we understand that every level has to get it done. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it, and I know the offense is the same way. There’s been great competition among us all summer long, and that’s why I can name all those guys. I know I’m forgetting people, but that’s just how strong our team’s come around. There are a select few guys who are on different phases of leadership and it has come from every angle. If I say something to Rex or Kyler, you have all these guys and all these seniors and there’s no question that when somebody says something and we all know it’s right. That’s why we’ve grown so much. We’re to the point where there doesn’t need to be an explanation for anything. It’s said and done. It’s set in stone. We have all kinds of support behind all kinds of leaders. I know this. If a group of guys feel really strongly about something, I’m going to back ‘em. You know what I mean? I mean 100 percent. Even if it’s a younger guy or doesn’t agree with everything, you have to show that support, too. This program is about going after things the right way and going all out, and that’s what we’re going to do.

Q: What else have you learned about Nebraska?

A: I’ve learned about routines, I guess. What I’ve learned over the years is finding the leadership in the off season and keeping it at an even keel because we’ve been inconsistent. That’s an obvious sore thumb that everybody can see. I think that what we’ve accomplished this summer we have to build off of it. There’s no getting too high or too low about it. We’re coming to work every day with that same even-keel approach and that same sense of purpose. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned.

Q: You mentioned the coaches have been almost as transformative as the players. Can you describe what you mean?

A: That’s where it all starts – on that floor above us. The coaches are our father figures and our role models. I mean, they’re the guys we live through. Just because we have certain seniors doesn’t mean we’ve always had the right leadership. That doesn’t mean we were put in these shoes and all of a sudden we’re leaders. We need guidance, too. I’m always picking the brains of every guy I named off. I now we’ve been to Coach Bo’s office and J.P.’s (John Papuchis) office and Coach (Ross) Els’ office. We pick their brains, too. I’m a leader, but obviously I don’t know everything. I mean, I’m doing a better job all the time, but that’s because we all use our resources. We use Coach Dobson. We use everyone. Our coaching staff has done a great job, and it trickles down. They’ve taught us and led us in the right way.

Q: What’s been the highlight of the summer?

A: The whole summer and the way we finished up the second half of the summer.

Q: What have you seen that you consider the most amazing?

A: The progress of the fifth-year seniors has been phenomenal. The strength gains and all the improvements have been amazing. Usually, you don’t see that from fifth-year seniors. Usually, you maximize your strength when you’re younger and new to a program. By the time you’re a senior, you’re pretty much maxed out. Usually, it’s over no matter how hard you push yourself. But we’ve changed the model, from top to bottom ... everybody is getting stronger. The new stuff that Dobson put in this off season has beyond paid off. Our approach has been different. It’s a different mentality. It’s a different feel. It’s just ... different. We’ve done things one way. It takes time to figure things out to do that one way. I think we’re figuring it out every day. It’s a one-way mentality, a one-way approach and it’s paid off. I don’t want to go through fall camp with all these questions. I just want to play and show people that we’ve been through a process, and we’re going to continue through that process. And I’m just excited that we can finally let our playing do our talking. That’s what football is all about. Playing! Not talking!

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