With Spring Practice just around the corner, Nebraska will be looking to find players in the offensive line to replace the departed seniors, that among them amassed approximately 80 starts over the past three seasons.
Most notable, is that Nebraska will have to replace the right side of it's 2008 offensive line that had been occupied by senior guard Matt Slauson and senior right tackle Lydon Murtha.
Slauson at 6'5" and 320 lbs had been a staple in the offensive line for three years and possessed great strength and versatility as he did play both tackle positions in his career but more recently had settled in at the right guard spot.
Murtha possessed the prototypical tackle measurements at 6'7" and 315 lbs and had a reach that probably equaled that of players even taller.
Both players are currently at the NFL combine in Indianapolis hoping for a shot at the next level.
Among those two, they had approximately 55 starts between them in the last three seasons and it could have been more if not for some injury issues for Murtha.
Also gone is senior guard Mike Huff who was interchangeable at either guard spot the last three years and very strong.
I have to say, that although much of Bill Callahan's tenure at Nebraska was a disappointment, he did leave Nebraska with a stockpile of talented offensive lineman.
Derek Meyer, a senior transfer from Kansas State who added depth to the position is also gone.
Considering Callahan's NFL pedigree he did go out and find a slew of big bodied, long, strong, and athletic offensive lineman.
The following is a quick snippet of information for each of the offensive lineman on the Nebraska roster for 2009.
Classes listed will be for the 2009 season.
Jr. Mike Smith 6'6" 285 lbs.
Mike was a regular starter at left tackle in 2008 and looks to continue to be in the mix at the position. Coming into 2008 he wasn't expected to be the starter coming out of fall camp, but due to blood pressure issues of Jaivario Burkes he was the starter for much of 2008.
Played very well much of the year. Did have some issues with Clemsons' Da'Quan Bowers in the Gator Bowl. Will look to add weight and strength in winter conditioning.
Sr. Jacob Hickman 6'4" 290 lbs
Started all year at the center position and will look to do the same in 2009. Nebraska coaches will be looking to him to provide leadership to the offensive line group.
Jr. Cruz Barret 6'4" 310 lbs
A regular player in the rotation at the guard position and will look to do the same in 2009, if not compete for a starting spot. A very physically strong player that fits the mold of a guard.
So. Mike Caputo 6'1" 275 lbs
Mike was a regular player at the center position and looks to be in line to replace Hickman at that position in 2010. Nebraska coaches are very impressed with his intensity and knowledge of the game.
His high school coach, Fred Pitito of Omaha's Millard North said Caputo is a real "spark plug" and fits the mold of a tough football player.
Jr. Keith Williams 6' 5" 305 lbs
A regular player in 2008 at the guard spot and will be in the mix for a starters spot in 2009
Jr. Jaivorio Burkes 6' 5" 325 lbs
Jaivorio was the likely starter at the left tackle spot in 2008 but due to some blood pressure issues missed some early season action. Once his health issues got under control he proved to be a very talented player at the tackle spot.
Jr. DJ Jones 6' 5" 305 lbs
The junior from Omaha Central will be looking to gain a starters spot in 2009. A likely replacement at right guard for Matt Slauson. Lots of action at that spot in 2008 and played well.
Red-shirt Jr. Ricky Henry 6' 4" 305
Due to Ricky's sterling performance in fall camp in 2008 it looked likely that he would be in the offensive line mix in 2008, but the coaches decided to save a year of his eligibility and red-shirted him for 2008.
Henry is an intimidating force among the offensive line and possesses a relentless mean streak when he steps on the field. Word out of fall camp in 2008 was that not too many players liked facing Ricky in drill work. Will be looked upon to be a possible starter at the guard spot.
Redshirt So. Marcel Jones 6' 7" 310 lbs
Marcel will be looked upon to replace Lydon Murtha at the right tackle position.
These players should be the ones that coaches look to, to find a likely starting lineup and find a nice rotation of players.
The status of Andy Christensen, a former starter at guard who is over coming some off the field issues is unknown at this time. Nebraska may or may not petition the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility for Andy.
Some of the others that will be adding depth to the line while they gain experience.
So. Max McShane 6' 6" 290 lbs
So. Brian Thorson 6' 3" 280 lbs
So. Cory Iske 6' 4" 285 lbs
So. Choi Jeung Hoon 6' 2" 300 lbs
So. Brandon Thompson 6' 6" 295 lbs
And we can't forget the incoming freshman from the 2009 recruiting class.
Nick Ash 6' 5" 260 lbs
Jesse Coffey 6' 7" 290 lbs
Brent Qvale 6' 7" 335 lbs
Jeremiah Sirles 6' 6" 280 lbs.
Of these incoming freshman I think Brent Qvale has the best chance to avoid a redshirt season and see immediate action. He carries a 4.0 GPA through his high school career and has great feet for a young man of his size.