Coming into last season, there were many questions about the quality of Nebraska's defensive line. But, by the end of the 2008 season this unit had become the heart and soul of the Cornhuskers, while playing at a level that far exceeded expectations.
And one player, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh established himself as a physical and dominant force that opposing teams had great difficulty keeping under wraps.
Nebraska did lose several quality players from this unit and will be looking to replace guys like DE Zach Potter, NT Ty Steinkuhler and DE Clayton Seivers.
The following is a breakdown of each player expected to be major contributors or role players for the Nebraska defensive line in 2009.
Classes listed will be for the 2009 season.
Sr. DT Ndamukong Suh 6'4" 305lbs
What is there to say that hasn't already been said about Suh? Not much. Suh is a dominant and physical force at the defensive tackle position that demands double teams from the opposing team offensive line.
Even in double teaming him, Suh was often able to get off of these tandem blocks and be a factor in plays. Suh lead the team in tackles from his DT position last year, which hadn't been done in over 30 years.
Suh will be looked to for leadership and to continue with the performance of last season.
Is a potential All-American and honors candidate and if he has another stellar year, he will undoubtedly be among the very highest picks in the 2010 NFL draft.
So. NT Jared Crick 6'6" 285 lbs
A role player in 2008 who will be one of several players looked upon to replace the graduated Ty Steinkuhler. Has shown signs that he could be a player that could get it done at a high level at the nose tackle position.
So. NT Terrance Moore 6'3" 285 lbs
Another young reserve from the 2008 season looking to be the guy at the nose tackle position. Style of play and his physical stature probably very well suited to the nose tackle position. Lower pad level guy like Ty Steinkuhler was that can use that leverage to his advantage.
Rfr. NT Baker Steinkuhler 6'6" 295 lbs
Yes, another Steinkuhler in the mix at nose tackle. Is Ty's younger brother and Baker was a 5 star recruit out of Lincoln in 2008. Word out of spring practice is that Baker is looking good and will definitely be among the players in the rotation at nose tackle.
Sr. DE Barry Turner 6'3" 265 lbs
Barry came onto the scene in 2005 and had a freshman campaign that resulted in freshman All America recognition. Coming into 2008 he was expected to be a leader and a force, but then, he was injured in the second game with a broken leg and missed the rest of the season.
He was granted a medical hardship by the NCAA and got one more year of eligibility.
If he comes back healthy with the speed and quickness, he will pose a problem for opposing offensive lines.
Sr. DE David Harvey 6'4" 275 lbs
David has proved to be a very versatile player in his career through multiple position switches, but in his last year, he is shaping up to be a contributor at the defensive end position. Coaches speak well of his attitude and his practice play. I expect to see him as a regular player at one of the defensive end spots in 2009.
Jr. Tyrone Fahie 6'3" 245 lbs
Fahie (Foy) is the oldest player on the team, as he graduated high school in 2000 and did six years active duty military, with two tours of duty in Iraq. Will be a player that will be in the rotation at the defensive end spots.
Jr. DE Pierre Allen 6'5" 265 lbs
Allen came into 2008 not expecting to be a major contributor in 2008, but then Turner got hurt and a major contributor he became. He played at such a unexpected and surprising high level in Turner's place, that it could almost be said that Turner's injury was a "blessing in disguise." Sorry Barry.
It meant that in 2009, we would be returning not just two defensive ends with starting experience, but two talented defensive ends to play on either side of Ndamukong Suh.
Rfr. DE Cameron Meredith 6'4" 260 lb
The early word out of spring practice is Cameron is playing at a very good level for a redshirt freshman and will likely be a regular back up to Turner and Allen.
Rfr. DE Josh Williams 6'4" 245 lbs
Josh is another young player who is performing well in spring practice and will certainly see action next year as a back up to the more seasoned veterans.
Rfr. Quentin Toailoa 6'4" 300 lbs
Well, at this point it is difficult to say where Quentin is going to play. Just prior to spring practice he made the switch from defense to offense. Since, I have already done a preview for offensive linemen, I will include him here.
Where ever it is he plays, Quentin has the potential to become a very good player on either side of the ball.
Below is the rest of the defensive line players who will look to provide depth and fill reserve and special teams slots for the Cornhuskers in 2009.
Rfr. Faron Klingelhoefer 6'2" 255 lbs
Rfr. Kenny Anderson 6'2" 240 lbs
Rfr. Josh Molik 6'3" 245 lbs
Rfr. Conor McDermot 6'2" 240 lbs
Jr. Ben Martin 6'2" 260 lbs
Rfr. Justin Jackson 6'3" 270 lbs
So. William Yancy 6'4" 245 lbs
Jr. Dan Glassman 6'4" 250 lbs