August 12, 2008

Culbert pushing for starting safety job

Major Culbert believes his instinct, athleticism and energy level are his strongest assets on the football field, which would seem to make him a
perfect fit for the Huskers' new defensive philosophy under first-year head coach Bo Pelini.

"I like to play with a lot of energy, use my instinct and run to the football," Culbert said.

Culbert, a 6-foot, 205-pound junior from Harbor City, Calif., is known for his versatility. He's played multiple positions - on offense, defense and special teams - during his first two seasons with the Huskers, but it
appears he may have finally found a home at the strong safety position.

Just one week into fall camp, Culbert's emerged as a player who's going to press No. 1 strong safety Larry Asante for playing time this season.

"Camp is going wonderful," Culbert said. "Every day I feel more comfortable. As long as I stay focused and keep my eyes on my keys, I should be golden.

"Once you get more comfortable, the game slows down. Right now, that's what it's looking like for me out there. It's slow and I'm reacting fast to it."

Culbert began feeling at home with the Huskers' new defensive scheme by the end of spring practice and quickly caught the attention of his coaches with his level of play in the first week of fall workouts.

"I would say right now that Major has had the best camp so far," defensive backs coach Marvin Sanders said. "He plays with an effort level that I want everybody to play at. You don't always have to be the fastest if you play with a little bit of passion and that's what Major does."

Culbert may not be the fastest player in the Husker secondary, but the energy level and effort he puts into every play is unsurpassed, Sanders said.

"You would never know whether he's slow or fast," Sanders said. "Major plays at a certain speed you want everybody to play with."

Culbert said Nebraska's new defensive coaches have been sending a strong message since their arrival in Lincoln last winter: they expect nothing less than an all-out effort from their players on every play, in practice and on game day.

"Coach Pelini, he wants nothing but effort, as long as you give effort, even if you mess up. If you're hustling to the ball and show effort, that's what they want," Culbert said.

Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini said he likes what he's seeing from Culbert on the practice field.

"Major's had a good camp," he said. "We are throwing new concepts at them every day and their heads spin sometimes, but you know what, they're communicating well and they are making adjustments on the run. Every day there is improvement. Major is doing a good job."

For now, Culbert will remain the back-up to Asante, but Husker coaches haven't ruled out the possibility of letting him line up at the free safety position.

"He's intelligent enough to play either spot," Sanders said. "I'm not worried about that. What my job right now is to make sure those guys understand the concepts, than once everything is put into the defense, then I can find out or not if I want to move him opposite of Larry (Asante) or

Culbert has already proven that he'll play wherever he's needed. He just wants to get on the field and run to the football.

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