College football is a sport of turnover. With players having only four years of eligibility, college fans know they have precious little time to see stars emerge on the field before they move on. So looking for the next big thing is a regular occurrence for any college football fan.
After 2011, Nebraska had a number of stars depart, leaving holes to fill in the roster. So who will be the players that step into those holes and become the next big Nebraska stars? Here are five players who have the potential to become household names around the Good Life State in years to come.
Before Aaron Green’s transfer, Nebraska looked pretty stacked at running back. Stacked enough that Braylon Heard moved from running back to defensive back. But with Green now wearing purple at TCU, the depth at running back is starting to look a little less stellar. Behind Rex Burkhead is Ameer Abdullah and Heard, who is playing iron man by practicing on offense and defense.
Enter Mike Marrow, the 6'2", 250-pound transfer competing for the starting fullback position. Marrow was a Nick Saban recruit at Alabama, and left the program after a death in the family. So we know that, at one point, Marrow was an Alabama-caliber recruit. And with his size, he has the potential to give Nebraska the kind of bruising presence at tailback that Abdullah simply does not provide.
Don’t be surprised if Marrow wins the starting fullback job this fall. And don’t be surprised if he sees a lot of the field in 2012, offering a change of pace for Nebraska.
Allen spent his redshirt year in 2011 toiling on the practice squad, drawing rave reviews for his performance. Now, as a redshirt freshman in 2012, Allen will get his chance to shine. At 6'3" and 195 pounds, Allen has the size to be an imposing target for Taylor Martinez.
Look for Allen to move up the depth chart in 2012 and be a mainstay in Nebraska’s passing attack for years to come.
You don’t become the first true freshman to start a season opener as an offensive lineman for Nebraska without having some talent. And while Moore struggled as the 2011 season went on, his underlying size (6'6", 290 pounds) and undeniable talent make him the most likely of Nebraska’s crop of young offensive linemen to stand out and be a star on the Pipeline.
Taylor Martinez will, barring injury, be Nebraska’s quarterback in 2012 and 2013. But incoming freshman Tommy Armstrong looks to be Nebraska’s future signal-caller. A prized recruit out of San Antonio, Armstrong is much more of a passing threat than Martinez was at this stage of his career.
Armstrong thrived in a pro-style offense, and most scouts viewed him as having the ability to play from a traditional under-center role as well as on the run. With two years' experience under his belt (potentially with one as a redshirt, playing on the scout team), Armstrong should be well prepared to step into the quarterback position in 2014 and succeed for Nebraska.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one. An undersized linebacker doesn’t get picked up by a big program out of high school, and decides to attend junior college to hone his skills. That undersized linebacker hits the field for Nebraska, and becomes a superstar, breaking records and going early in the NFL draft.
Sure, that’s Lavonte David’s career path. But it’s also mirrored, at least at the start, by Zaire Anderson. At 6'1", 210 pounds, Anderson had the same size concerns that David did early in his career. Like David, Anderson has shown the quickness and football sense to get where he needs to be on the field and disrupt opposing offenses. And, like David, Anderson will likely see the field in a hurry for Nebraska.
Is Anderson the next David? We won’t know until the games start, but the potential is certainly there.
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