2008 was a great year for Husker Fans. After firing the University's Athletic Director and hired former head coach Tom Osbourn to replace him, head coach Bill Callahan was fired and replaced by former interim head coach Bo Pelini, a down to earth, good old Nebraska boy.
Then the team bounced back from a dismal losing record of 5-7, to an 8-4 regular season record including a postseason win vs Clemson in the Gator Bowl. The program seems to finally be returning to the days of old.
So where do we stand now? The team is improving every day and they are skyrocketing to greatness once again. Looking forward to 2009, let's see how the Husker football team looks position by position.
The most uncertain position on the Husker football team this year is with out a doubt the quarterback position. With the loss of fan favorite Joe Ganz and the transfer of Pat Witt, the top two players on last years QB depth chart are gone.
The only player to have played in a game for Nebraska is Junior Zach Lee. He has been running the first team offense in spring practice up to this point.
Next is Kody Spano. He is a Redshirt Freshman from Texas who put up impressive numbers in High School.
Then there's true Freshman Cody Green, from Dayton Texas. He is listed as an Athlete by most recruiters because he is known more for his speed than his throwing ability, but don't let this trick you, he is very accurate and has a pretty strong arm.
The own side is that he is coming in injured and will miss spring practice. The other notable QB on the roster is LaTravis Washington. The Junior is said to have a "cannon" for an arm.
Probably one of the most experienced positions in the upcoming season is at running back. Marlon Lucky was the starter for the majority of the season last year, although he washeld out of Colorado game because of injury. His pass catching ability will be missed, but he has now cleared the way for Roy Helu Jr.
The speedy Junior is electrifying. He uses his speed, quick reaction, and elusiveness to cut up field for many yards at a time. He is a big play threat and can hit the home run at any time.
Joining Helu with the bulk of the carries will be fellow Junior Quinton Castille. He has the ability to knock you out and keep running over you. He will use his power to create the perfect one-two punch.
The other notable I-Back is Sophomore Marcus Mendoza. He had little experience during his Freshman season but showed that he could developinto another elusive back. The fullback position is a question. Junior Justin Makovickaand true Freshman C.J. Zimmer looks to be a good options.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
The Huskers will miss WR's Nate Swift's and Todd Peterson's sure handedness, but here comes the speed!
Senior Menelik Holt and Junior Niles Paul will most likely start next year. They are two fast players who have good hand and are allot alike in size. Holt was the third receiver last year, but to the fans, he was nothing compared to Niles Paul.
Niles Paul is a WR/KR. His Kickoff return for a Touchdown against San Jose State last year assured him a place in the fans heart. The third WR will be a toss up. The only other receiver with a TD reception in '08 is Senior Chris Brooks.
The tight end position was questionable at the beginning of last year, but was quickly solve when Mike McNeil exploded into the offense.
The Junior from Montana is sure handed, quick, and a good route runner. He developed into a big touchdown threat last year. The second tight end will be another Junior in Dreu Young. He is also a great receiving tight end.
With the loss of guard Matt Slauson and tackle Lydon Murtha, the right side of the line will be very shaky and inexperienced, but the left side will be solid.
Returning starters Jacob Hickman, Senior center, Mike Smith, Junior left tackle, and Keith Williams, Junior left guard, played tremendously in 2008.
They will continue to improve and build on last year's success. Possibilities to replace the losses on the right side could be Junior tackle Javario Burkes, who saw action last year when Mike Smith was hurt, and Junior guard D.J. Jones.
By far the most experienced and most deep position on the team this year will be the D-line. Despite the losses of Ty Steinkuler and Zach Potter, everybody getting down in a three or four point stance will have tremendous experience.
At D-end, Redshirt Senior Barry Turner and Junior Pierre Allen will be able to provide an unstoppable pass rush. Turner is coming off a season ending injury and is excited to get back on the field.
At D-tackle, native Nebraskan Jared Crick will be excited to begin his first year starting as just a Sophomore. Then there is the beast in the middle, the best player on the team, Nose Guard Ndamukong Suh!
The 300 pounder decided not to enter the NFL Draft, but to return for his Senior season. He is one of the best, if not the best run stopper in the nation. He is a projected Top 10 Draft pick next year's Draft.
Only one starter will be returning at Linebacker next year, and that is Phillup Dillard. The two Seniors leaving will be AcademicAll-Big 12 selection Tyler Wortman and fan favorite Cody Glenn, who was beloved after his switch from Runningback to Linebacker in '08.
Dillard is a solid tackler an has good flow to the ball. He needs to work on his athleticism but is an overall good player. Blake Lawerence will most likely be a starter at the Strong Side position.
He got valuable playing time when Cody Glenn was suspended for the last three games. Another player with allot of experience is Colton Koehler, who played when Dillard was injured.
The Secondary will be a very experienced and important part to the pass defense. Three of the four starters will be returning. At Strong Safety, Senior Larry Asante will leadthe secondary.
He is a very reliable tackler to prevent long runs and will not drop easy picks, as well as catch harder ones. Ricky Thenarse will be the starting Free Safety. Last year, he split time with Matt O'Hanlen, who graduated this past fall. He will need to step up because neither safety position is very deep.
At Connerback, Armando Murrillo will be missed. He was a captain and really stepped up when his counterpart Anthony Blue was injured at the begging of the season, and stayed injured for most of it. Replacing Blue was Anthony West.
Blue's injury gave West a chance to show his stuff, and now the team will have two Conners with experience. Other Conners to keep an eye out for are Junior Eric Hagg and Junior Prince Amukamara.
Last year, Alex Henry showed that he was one of the best placekickers in the nation. Although he is known for his accuracy, the Somphomore's 57-yard game winner against Colorado was the longest in school history.
The other big footed kicker on the roster is Adi Kunalic. He is a kickoff specialest and has a very high touchback percentage. The fans love the two kickers and truly make them feel like every other player.
The punter is a big question. Don't be surprised to see one of these two or a freshman starting at this position.
At returner, Niles Paul will start on both the Kickoff and Punt returns. Alfonzo Dennard will join him on Kickoffs.
So there it is. The 2009 Husker football season should be an exciting one. Hopefully, Coach Pelini will soon restore Husker tradition to the program. I am looking forward to seeing how they do with the new change at QB.
Thanks for Reading,